We’d all like to save money on car insurance, but you shouldn’t cut corners.
Without adequate coverage, a collision could wreck your entire financial life, especially if you’re found legally responsible for someone else’s injuries.
So let’s look for ways to save money while still protecting yourself with reliable auto coverage.
10 Best Auto Insurance Companies in 2020
Hundreds of local, regional, and national insurance companies sell auto policies. I recommend shoppers check with the following auto insurers first.
This fast-growing company specializes in quality coverage and quality of customer service. You can find lower rates, but you’ll have a harder time finding better auto protection.
In most states, Amica doesn’t factor in your car’s depreciation during the first year. This means you may be able to avoid paying extra for gap insurance.
Amica offers online tools including an app that tracks claims and even calls for roadside assistance if you opt in to the service.
If you’re the kind of customer who likes to talk about your coverage on the phone, you’ll probably like the company’s customer service agents even better.
- Top-notch customer satisfaction
- Customer-friendly terms and claims process
- Fewer discounts than other carriers
- Few local offices
USAA Property & Casualty
USAA got its start a century ago after 25 U.S. Army officers couldn’t find affordable auto coverage. They decided to pool their resources and insure each other.
Now, USAA serves almost 13 million members, all of whom still have ties to the military. If you aren’t a vet or on active duty (or if you aren’t a military family member), you can’t join USAA.
If you can join, you’ll have access to excellent auto coverage at a great price. I’m a lifelong member.
As USAA has grown, some members have reported customer service concerns, but USAA knows the military life, and they have special benefits just for those who are active military or veterans.
In most states, you’ll be able to save up to 60 percent if you store your car when deployed. (This feature isn’t available in California, North Carolina, or Virginia.)
- Great military-specific discounts in most states
- Industry-leading apps and online tools
- Fewer discounts overall
- Few brick-and-mortar locations
Farmers Insurance has become more of a household name because of its national ad campaigns in recent years.
The company’s auto coverage offers solid protection for your auto investment and your liability after a wreck. You can customize your coverage with add-ons such as rideshare coverage and built-in gap coverage for new cars.
And if you like working with an in-person agent, Farmers has locations throughout the country.
Farmers Auto Insurance Pros
- Flexible coverage options
- Higher-than-average claims satisfaction
Farmers Auto Insurance Cons
- Customer service can vary regionally
Cincinnati Insurance Company
Now for a different approach: Auto coverage from Cincinnati Insurance, which you can buy from independent insurance agents throughout the nation.
Independent agents offer policies from dozens of insurance companies because they don’t work for only one insurer. They have more freedom to choose a policy that best fits your needs.
More and more independent agents choose to offer coverage from Cincinnati Insurance.
This coverage is particularly useful for policyholders who regularly rent cars because of the company’s enhanced coverage for rentals which does not require a deductible.
Cincinnati Insurance Pros
- Flexible coverage options
- Enhanced rental coverage
Cincinnati Insurance Cons
- Sold by third-party, independent agents
- Phone-based customer service
Before its big ad budget made GEICO a household name, the company had humble beginnings. GEICO started as a government agency serving government employees.
Now anyone can be a GEICO customer. Overall, GEICO performs well with auto coverage — both in quality and price.
Digital natives will feel right at home shopping for coverage on GEICO’s site or apps. More traditional shoppers can now find local GEICO agents in many cities across the nation.
- Military discount
- In-person agents available in many areas
- Top-notch customer service
- Recent customer service problems
- Online tools not as comprehensive as competitors
Another national carrier with household name recognition, Progressive also holds up pretty well as an auto insurance provider.
If you’re trying to save on premiums while maintaining adequate coverage, Progressive should be one of your first stops.
Though you can save with Progressive without putting your financial life in danger, you also won’t always be getting the best coverage in the marketplace. Progressive has a higher-than-average instance of customer service complaints.
- Excellent process for shopping
- Great online tools
- Low rates for a national carrier
- The claims process can be cumbersome
- Higher-than-average customer service complaints
Allstate, another leader in the auto insurance industry, underwrites policies for Esurance, a provider specializing in simple online coverage.
As a side note: Esurance says it will help military members save money when they’re deployed. Like USAA and GEICO, Esurance understands you won’t be driving when you’re deployed and shouldn’t have to pay full auto coverage rates.
Esurance doesn’t always advertise this flexibility online, so be sure to ask about it if you’re considering this company.
- Great online tools
- Competitive rates
- Wide variety of discount options
- Doesn’t accept mailed-in payments
- The simple approach lacks nuance for complex situations
Auto-Owners Insurance Group
Auto-Owners offers great coverage, and the company tends to have higher-than-average customer satisfaction rates.
Auto-Owners would likely appear higher on this list if it were available nationally. Auto-Owners has coverage in only 26 states, mainly in the Southeast, mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Central Plains, and much of the Mountain Time Zone.
If you live in an Auto-Owners state, ask a local independent agent about the company. If you like shopping and accessing coverage online, you may not like Auto-Owners’ approach.
Auto-Owners Insurance Pros
- Personalized approach to service
- Dependable coverage
Auto-Owners Insurance Cons
- Not available on the West Coast or in the Northeast
- Does not offer up-to-date apps
Erie Insurance Group
Erie Insurance offers coverage in only 12 states in the mid-Atlantic (including New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.), the Midwest, and the Upper South.
Yet the company makes a lot of top-10 lists — including this one — because of its excellent and detailed coverage which even offers protection for your pet after an accident.
The company’s customer satisfaction rate is higher than the industry average. Although you can do a lot online to manage your account, Erie does not have a dedicated app.
Erie Insurance Pros
- Detailed and flexible coverage
- Low level of customer dissatisfaction
Erie Insurance Cons
- Not available nationally
- No dedicated app
AAA Auto Insurance
People join AAA for its roadside assistance, its car care centers, and its discounts on hotels and attractions.
Club members can also access solid insurance at discounted rates. If you’re already an AAA member, you can call the number on your card to ask about insurance coverage.
Even though it’s nationally known, AAA operates as a series of regional clubs, and your insurance options will depend on your local chapter’s insurance affiliations.
Larger chapters such as AAA Southern California may offer their own coverage while smaller chapters often connect customers with third-party carriers such as CSAA Insurance Group or Auto Club Enterprises Group.
AAA Auto Insurance Pros
- Personalized approach
- Discounted rates with AAA membership
AAA Auto Insurance Cons
- Coverage varies regionally
- Not a good value for non-AAA members
8 Ways to Lower Car Insurance Rates
Along with protecting the value of your car, your auto insurance should protect your liability in a wreck.
If you caused a wreck and got sued for damages, for example, the right kind of car insurance could protect your assets from seizure.
So it’s just not smart to cut corners by opting only for the cheapest rates. You should, however, look for ways to save money on your quality coverage.
For example, to keep insurance rates lower, you should:
1.Maintain a Good Credit Score
Insurers now consider your insurance credit score when setting premiums.
Because your tendency to take financial risks can indicate you also take risks when you drive. The higher the risk, the higher your premiums.
2.Claim Available Discounts
Many insurers offer a dozen or more ways you can lower your rate.
Esurance, for example, has 18 ways you could save. Be sure to ask the agent for a list of discounts or do a thorough search online as you shop.
Common discounts include safe-driver and multi-policy discounts. Many companies give discounts to teens who maintain good grades.
3.Drive as Safely as Possible
Driving defensively can prevent wrecks. Preventing wrecks reduces the likelihood you’ll have to file a claim. Avoiding claims keeps your premiums lower.
Over time you can save a lot by staying claims-free.
4.Drive a Safer Car
Cars with modern safety features can qualify for lower rates because these vehicles can more easily avoid wrecks.
You can’t always keep a brand new car, but opting for more safety features can save on premiums for years down the line.
5.Customize Your Coverage
Buying coverage that fits but doesn’t exceed your needs will save money. For example, extra policy features like roadside assistance can be helpful.
But if you’ll never use the service, skip it.
6.Shop Around for Quotes
Try to get at least three different quotes on your coverage before opting into a policy. But make sure the coverage you can depend on.
A policy that won’t pay when you need it could cost you thousands of dollars more than the amount you’d saved on the lower premiums.
How can you tell? Independent rating agencies like A.M. Best and Moody’s issue grades for insurance companies.
Higher grades (As and better) usually indicate the insurance company stands on solid financial footing.
Every company on my list above has high ratings from A.M. Best. If you go with another company, check its rates before signing the policy.
7.Drive Fewer Cars
This is a no-brainer, but having fewer vehicles on your policy can save you a chunk of money.
If you’re holding onto a car for sentimental reasons or because you haven’t gotten around to selling it, consider removing the car from your primary policy.
Of course, if you don’t have the car insured, don’t drive it!
With many insurers, having fewer cars can save even more if you have a teenage driver who’s not assigned as the primary driver of a vehicle.
Canceling your coverage each time you’re deployed may seem like a good idea. But eventually, this will cost you.
Future insurers will see your gaps in coverage and charge higher rates.
If you’re on active duty, consider a company like USAA or GEICO which will let you suspend coverage for a lower rate while you’re deployed.
Quality Auto Coverage Doesn’t Have to Cost a Fortune
Ultimately, your car insurance has a simple mission: To protect your wallet if you have a wreck or if your vehicle gets stolen or damaged in another way.
With many products, a higher price signifies better quality. With insurance, you can’t always tell. You could be paying more for an inferior product.
So insist on a quality insurance company but look for ways to save through policy discounts and by driving safely, maintaining your vehicle, and keeping your credit score in good shape.
If you don’t have the time and patience to compare policies and you’re not too worried about the price, go with Amica or ask an independent insurance agent for the most reliable coverage.
If you’d rather make sure you’re getting the best deal, shop around and compare rates, but be sure you’re getting adequately covered.
The roads can be too dangerous and unpredictable to take chances.