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Best Car Insurance

Last updated December 13, 2018
Editor's Choice

USAA was founded in 1922 and is the fifth largest auto insurer, with 11.9 million members. It differentiates from other insurance companies by exclusively covering active and former military members and their families. Additional highlights include:

  • Competitive pricing, lower than most competitors (particularly for young drivers)
  • Bundle discount: Get up to 10 percent off your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance premium when you add auto insurance.
  • Flexible payment plans
  • Accident forgiveness is free after five years if your household has not had any at-fault accidents.

 

Allstate Insurance is one of the largest insurance providers in the U.S. and serves over 16 million American households. Many recognize the company by its catchy slogan, “Are you in good hands?” Highlights include: 

  • Competitive pricing
  • Accident forgiveness add-on package prevents your premiums from going up as a result of an accident.
  • Easy-to-use mobile app rewards you for good driving and enables you to quickly film claims.

 

Liberty Mutual Insurance Group is a diversified insurance provider based in Boston, Massachusetts. Founded in 1912, it provides property insurance, auto insurance, life insurance, pet insurance and several other smaller lines of insurance, such as identity theft, small business and more. Highlights include: 

  • Minimum coverage policies are cheaper than most competitors.
  • Optional accident forgiveness add-on package prevents your premiums from going up as a result of an accident.
  • Teachers’ Auto Insurance package offers free add-on benefits for teachers.

 

Progressive car insurance is a multi-disciplinary insurance company founded in 1937 and headquartered in Mayfield Village, Ohio. Best known for its car insurance, it also provides life insurance, health insurance, travel insurance and more. It is the third largest auto insurance provider in the U.S., serving 17 million people. Highlights include: 

  • Competitive pricing
  • Large and small accident forgiveness
  • Discounts such as safe driver, sign online, multi-car, good student and more

Metromile is a relatively new auto insurance company founded in California in 2011. Geared towards city-dwellers and infrequent drivers, it offers pay-per-mile car insurance. While other car insurance providers offer discounts for those who drive less than 10,000 miles per year, Metromile considers these drivers their bread and butter. Highlights include: 

  • Only available in eight states
  • Monthly rates starting at $29
  • 24/7 customer service

Top 5 Car Insurance Companies

Top 5 Car Insurance Companies

If you’ve ever wondered, “Why do I need car insurance?,” the answer is two-fold. Not only is it legally required in pretty much every state (Virginia and New Hampshire are the only two states that do not require it), but it’s smart. Having car insurance is smart because can it save you a lot of money and stress if you hit someone, injuring them and damaging their vehicle and yours. It can also save you a lot of money and stress if someone else hits you, whether they are insured or not.

What Is Car Insurance?

Girl next to blue carCar insurance is what protects your car (and you) if you are involved in a collision, but it isn’t a “one and done” deal. There multiple types of car insurance designed to keep you, your car, and your passengers protected should an accident occur. Liability insurance, collision insurance, and comprehensive insurance are the three most popular types, but there are also about a dozen more add-ons you can invest in to further protect you and your car.

What Does Car Insurance Cover?

New Audi

There are many different types of car insurance, so make sure you do your research to see what the best option is for you and your family. 

What Are The Different Types of Car Insurance?

As we mentioned before, the three primary types of car insurance coverage are collision insurance, liability insurance and comprehensive insurance. This is what they cover, and how they differentiate:

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance is the most common type of car insurance. It protects other people and their property from damage you may unintentionally cause should you hit them and/or their vehicle with your car. This form of car insurance is mandatory in most states. It covers both property damage and medical payments. Common claims for liability insurance include:

  • Bodily injury: If you are at-fault in an accident that injures another person, bodily injury liability coverage will help pay for the injured person’s medical costs.
  • Property damage: If you are at-fault in an accident that damages someone’s property, such as their car, property damage liability coverage will help cover the cost of repairs or even replacement.

Collision Insurance

Collision insurance is the second most common type of car insurance. Collision insurance protects your car regardless of who was at fault in an accident. It also covers your car should someone hit you in a hit and run accident, and also covers your car should you hit a stationary object. Common claims for comprehensive insurance include:

  • Collision with another vehicle
  • Collision with a stationary object, such as a mailbox
  • If your car or SUV rolls over

Comprehensive Insurance

Comprehensive insurance is the third most common type of car insurance. It protects your car if it’s damaged in an event besides a collision with another vehicle. It covers damage from fire, vandalism, hail, or other falling objects. It also protects your car should damage occur when no one is driving it, such as when it’s parked in your driveway or a parking lot. Comprehensive insurance is not legally required, but if you are leasing or financing a car, the lender will likely require it. Common claims for comprehensive insurance include:

  • Theft: If your car is stolen
  • Vandalism: If some keys your car, breaks your windows, or intentionally causes destruction in another way
  • Natural disasters: If your car is damaged in a hurricane, tornado or flood
  • Falling objects: If a tree branch falls and damages your car
  • Fire: If your car is damaged due to a house fire, or fire due to any other reason
  • Damage caused by animals: If you live in the mountains or like to go camping and a bear or other large animal

In addition to the above, many car insurance providers provide add-ons, including medical payments coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, rental car reimbursement and much more.

Top 5 Car Insurance Companies

Ferrari Convertible

At Top5, we searched high and low for the best car insurance companies, rating them based on price, add-on options, available discounts, financial rating, and coverage. Here are our top 5:

Best All-Around Car Insurance (Excluding Teen Drivers): Progressive

Progressive car insurance's spokeswoman, Flo

Progressive is a multi-disciplinary insurance company that offers car insurance, life insurance, health insurance, travel insurance and more. You may recognize Flo from Progressive’s marketing campaigns. It is the third largest car insurance company in the U.S., providing coverage to over 17 million people.

Progressive offers competitive prices and a plethora of discount options. There’s pretty much one more discount option available for any driver. Most notable are Progressive’s small and large accident forgiveness programs. Small accident coverage means that if you are involved in a small accident such as a fender bender and file a claim of less than $500, your premiums will not increase. Its large accident forgiveness programs means that if you have Progressive coverage for at least five years and remain accident-free for three yours, your premium will not increase should you become involved in an accident.

While Progressive does offer teen driver discounts and other good student discounts, its rates are typically more expensive for young drivers than competitors. Thus, while Progressive is our top choice for Best All Around Car Insurance, it is only so for those without young teenage drivers.  if you have teen drivers, we recommend Allstate.

Best All-Around Car Insurance (Including Teen Drivers): Allstate

Allstate Car Insurance Logo

“Are you in good hands?” You may recognize Allstate’s catchy slogan and, if you have Allstate, you really are in good hands. Allstate is our top choice for Best All-Around Car Insurance (Including Teen Drivers). Allstate serves more than 16 million American drivers and is one of the largest car insurance companies in the U.S.

Allstate offers competitive pricing and optional add-on packages such as accident forgiveness. This means that your premiums won’t go up if you are involved in an accident – no matter who was at fault! Allstate also has an easy-to-use app, which means if you are involved in an accident, you can file a claims form in second.

Did you know that teenage drivers can cost up to 80 percent more to insure adults and seasoned drivers? As such, adding a teen to your policy can be quite a financial undertaking.

Allstate offers a variety of discounts for teen drivers, and its good student insurance rates are more affordable that other car insurance companies on our list. Thus, if you want to add your teen driver to your car insurance, Allstate is our top choice for Best All Around Car Insurance (Including Teen Drivers).

Best Car Insurance For Military Families: USAA

USAA logo

USAA is our favorite car insurance company as it offers some of the best pricing around. However – it’s only available for active and former military members and their families. As such, we couldn’t vote it “Best All Around Car Insurance,” but it does make our list as the Best Car Insurance For Military Families. If you can qualify, we highly recommend it.

Even though it has a niche segment, USAA is the fifth largest auto insurer and has nearly 12  million members. USAA offers competitive pricing for everyone, including young drivers. In fact, its premiums for young drivers were some of the lowest we found. It also offers a variety of discounts including bundling (USAA also offers homeowners and renters insurance, so if you purchase more than one, you can get a discount of 10 percent). It offers flexible payment plans, as well as accident forgiveness. If you remain accident-free for five years, USAA will add accident forgiveness to your plan for free!

USAA is available for active military members, former military members, cadets and midshipmen, and family of military including widows and widowers, divorced spouses, and children of USAA members.

Best “All in One” Insurance Provider (And Best Car Insurance For Teachers):  Liberty Insurance

Liberty Mutual Car Insurance Review

Liberty Mutual Insurance Group is a multi-disciplinary insurance provider that has been around for over 100 years. It offers car insurance, property insurance, life insurance, and pet insurance. It also provides insurance for identity theft, small business and more. Given the variety of coverage, Liberty Insurance is our choice for “Best All in One Insurance Provider.” If you are looking for one company where you can enroll for car insurance, life insurance, property insurance and more, you can’t beat Liberty Insurance.

Liberty offers discounts for those with clean driving records, hybrid and electric cars, and good grades (if you are a student). It also offers add-ons such as accident forgiveness and lifetime repair guarantee. One of its key differentiators is its Teacher’s Auto Insurance Policy. Liberty offers educators protection against vandalism, personal property damage, and collision coverage if you are involved in an accident while driving for school-related business.

Best Car Insurance For Infrequent Drivers: MetroMile

Metromile Car Insurance Review

MetroMile is a new and unique type of car insurance that caters to people who live in big cities and take public transportation more often than they drive. MetroMile offers pay-per-mile car insurance and is ideal for those who drive less than 10,000 miles per year. Thus, it’s our top choice for “Best Car Insurance For Infrequent Drivers.”

MetroMile believes that the more you drive, the more likely you are to be involved in an accident. Thus, it rewards you for not driving. Rates start at just $29/month, making the cheapest car insurance option around for those who qualify. However, at present, MetroMile is only available in eight states (Arizona, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington), as some states actually prohibit pay-per-mile insurance. If you live in San Francisco and prefer taking BART to driving the 101, MetroMile may be a good choice for you, but if you live in NYC, unfortunately, it’s not yet an option.

Why Do You Need Car Insurance?

Parking lot with cars

This is easy: it’s legally required. Plus, it can save you a lot of money and stress if you are involved in a car accident, regardless of who is at fault. And if you accidentally hit a stationary object and the accident is entirely your fault? Car insurance can still save you money.

Did you know that there are approximately 6 million car accidents in the U.S. a year? That’s about 16,000 a day! Cars are expensive, and fixing them is just as expensive. Additionally, in the U.S. there are over 37,000 fatalities and 2.4 million injuries each year due to car accidents. In the U.S., the average cost of an accident is $820 per person, but it can be much higher depending on the extent of the damage, as well as depending on whether or not you have car insurance.

Car Insurance Case Study: Medical Coverage

Evan Walker, a lawyer who owns his own practice in California, shared with Supermoney how car insurance saved a family nearly $100,000 after their 9-year old son was hit by a car. After being struck by a car, the 9-year old boy spent a week in the hospital. The bill? $100,000.

While the driver of the car had insurance, his insurance company as well as the police blamed the boy for running out into the street and said he was 50% at fault in the accident. Thankfully, Evans was able to intervene.

“The driver was an 18-year-old driving a 20-year-old car, so I was guessing the driver had lowest legal amounts of liability insurance in California, which is $15,000,” Evans said.  “I put it all together and said I wanted the policy limits. Much to my surprise, the policy limits turned out to be 16 times that.”

In the end, Evans did not have to file a lawsuit and was able to get all of the boy’s medical bills paid. Without car insurance, chances are the family would have been stuck with the $100,000 in medical bills.

How to Use Car Insurance

Damaged fender

Hopefully, you’ll never have to use car insurance but if you do, you’ll be glad you invested in it. If you are involved in an accident with another driver or vehicle, you should always file an insurance claim, no matter how minor the accident may seem. If you don’t, it could come back to haunt you.

Liability insurance protects you from lawsuits. The truth is, settling an accident with the other driver yourself (ie, rather than turning it over to the insurance company) is risky. What happens if you pay to fix someone’s car, but then they come back later asking for more? Or even claiming injury? If you hadn’t filed a claim, they may be able to go after you financially rather than the insurance company. The only time it’s ok to not file a claim is if you hit a stationary object that you own and cause minimal damage. If you have collision insurance and the damage is less than your deductible, there wouldn’t be a claims payout anyway, so it’s not worth your time attempting to claim it.

How to File a Claim

Now that you know the reasons to file a claim, let’s discuss the “how to.” Each car insurance company varies slightly in how they handle claims:

How To File a Claim With Progressive

Progressive car insurance ad

Contact Progressive ASAP: The customer service team at Progressive Insurance is available 24/7 to help you with your claims needs. If you are involved in an accident, you should contact Progressive as soon as possible either via phone at 1-800-776-4737 or by logging into its website.

Schedule an Inspection: Progressive will ask you a few simple questions and work to resolve your claim immediately. After the initial call, a claims representative will reach out to you to answer any questions you may have, as well as schedule an inspection of your car. If you have any questions about your deductible or what is covered, this is your time to ask.

Repairs Estimate: After a Progressive representative has inspected the damage to your car, the company will send you an estimate of how much repairs will cost.

Repairs Process: Progressive will help you find a repair shop and schedule repairs, whether it is in their network or not. It will also help arrange towing service if need be. If you need a rental car, Progressive can help make arrangements as well. Depending on your coverage, the cost of a rental car may or may not be covered by Progressive.

Progressive will check in with the repair show to make sure everything is going according to schedule. If additional damage is found, Progressive will work with them on this as well. While you are welcome to use any repair shop, we recommend using one that is within Progressive’s network, as they will guarantee your repairs for the duration you own (or lease) your car.

How To File a Claim With Allstate

Allstate logo

One of the reasons we love Allstate is because of its easy to use claims process. The company enables you to file your claims via app, which is very straightforward and simple.

Contact Allstate ASAP: If you are involved in an accident, the first thing you should do when you get home is file a claim. You can do so via the app, or by calling 1-800-ALLSTATE if you would prefer speaking to a person. Once you file a claim you will receive a claims number so you can track your claim.

Allstate Will Investigate Damages: Once you have filed a claim, Allstate will send a professional to investigate the damages to your vehicle. They will look at how badly your car is damaged, and also provide an estimate of the cost of repairs.

If your car is utterly wrecked and Allstate determines it will cost more to repair your car than its cash value, it is considered a “total loss vehicle.” In this case, Allstate will pay you up to the actual cash value of your care, minus the deductible.

Review Estimate: Once the investigator has given you an estimate of the cost of repairs, a claims adjustor will contact you to discuss the details and payment options. You will have a few options of how to pay the cost of repairs:

  • Allstate pays the repair shop directly
  • Allstate transfers the funds to you using Fast Mobile e-Payment
  • You receive a check at the time of inspection
  • A check will be mailed to you after the estimate has been submitted and approved
  • If you are leasing your car, Allstate can pay the lien holder or finance company directly
  • Payment can be made jointly payable to the repair facility and you

Repairs: Once the estimate has been approved and you have aligned with Allstate on your preferred method of payment, the repairs can begin.

How To File a Claim With USAA

USAA ad

USAA’s app makes filing claims (and managing your account) simple. If you have USAA, we highly recommend you download it.

Contact USAA ASAP: Once you have returned home following an accident, you will need to file a claim. This can be done via USAA’s app, website, or via phone. Once USAA receives your claim, it will be automatically assigned to a claims representative who will keep you informed throughout the process.

Review Your Policy Coverage: Once you have filed your claim, you’ll want to know what your policy covers. You can review this on your own, or wait for a claims representative to contact you. Once he or she does, they will have your policy on hand and can answer any questions you may have.

Inspect and Appraise Damage: Your claims representative will assign someone to come out and inspect your car. This person will assess the damage and work to determine how much repairs will cost.

Determine a Resolution: Once the inspector informs you how much repairs will cost, you have the option to move forward with repairs or hold. You’ll want to keep your deductible in mind, as that will be the cost you are required to pay out of pocket.

Depending on the claim, payment can be made directly to you, the lien holder (if your car is leased or financed), the repair facility, or other. If payment is given directly to you, you will be paid based on what type of payment you requested: check or Electronic Funds Transfer (ETF).

How to File a Claim with Liberty Insurance

Liberty mutual insurance accident forgiveness

Liberty mutual boasts that its claims can be filed in five minutes or less with its app thanks to an “intuitive click-through process.” Don’t want to use the app? You’re also welcome to call 1-844-825-2467 and a representative will help you with claims the process. Plus, with accident forgiveness, you won’t have to worry about your rates increasing due to your first accident.

Report Your Claim: If you are involved in an accident, you need to report it to your insurance company as soon as possible. If you choose to file your claim via Liberty’s app, you will be guided through. If you prefer to speak with a live representative, they will guide you through the process as well.

Investigation: Once you have filed your claim, Liberty will conduct an investigation to determine who was at fault in the accident. This will determine how the claim will be settled.

Review Next Steps: After the investigation, your claims representative will contact you to discuss next steps. Steps will vary depending on who is considered the at-fault driver. If you are able to drive your car and it is at home with you as opposed to in a repair shop, the representative will ask you to take photos of the damage of your car and provide an email address for you to send photos to.

Schedule a Damage Review: Your claims investigator will also help you schedule a damage review. This is where someone will come out to look at your car and access the damage, as well as figure out how much it is estimated to cost to repair.

Repairs: While Liberty does have a Guaranteed Repair Network, you are welcome to have your car repaired wherever you like. However, if you do go through the Liberty Guaranteed Repair Network, your repairs will be 100% guaranteed for as long as you own your car.

How to File a Claim with MetroMile

Submitting a claim through Metromiles app is simple

MetroMile is an innovative, out of the box car insurance company, so it should come as no surprise that the company has a first-class app through which you can file your car insurance claim. It also has a different process depending on what type of claim you need to file: if you need to file a hit and run claim or a glass and windshield claim, there are dedicated claims centers. If you need to file any other type of claim, you will go through the normal claims process and either file your claim through the app or by calling (888) 595-5485.

You will need the following information when filing a claim with Metromile:

  • Your Metromile insurance policy number
  • Date of accident
  • Location of accident
  • Description of accident
  • Names of those involved in accident
  • Make and model of vehicles involved in accident

One the claim has been filed, you can begin the repairs process.

Repairing Your Car: The first step is to get a damage estimate. Your claims representative will walk you through this process and in most cases is able to complete an estimate based on photos, rather than having to come out in person.  

If you are happy with the repairs estimate, you can move forward, but if not, that’s fine too. Repairing your car is not mandatory.

When Should You Purchase Car Insurance?

Woman driving new car

If you are purchasing your first car, you’ll need to get car insurance before you drive the car off the lot. If you already have car insurance and are simply buying a new car, we recommend contacting your car insurance provider before purchasing your car and adding it to your policy. While some car insurance providers give you between 7 – 30 days to add your new car to your insurance policy, this isn’t always the case, which is why it’s best to check in advance.

How To Get and Compare Quotes?

Couple driving in VW

Getting car insurance quotes is simple, and we recommending soliciting quotes from at least three different companies before selecting one. Most car insurance companies enable you to get a quote and sign up for insurance online.

To get a car insurance quote, simply visit the provider’s website and answer a few questions. You’ll likely be asked:

  • Zip code
  • Date of Birth
  • Who is requesting coverage: you, or you and others?
  • Have you been involved in an accident in the last 3-5 years?
  • Have you received a ticket in the last 3-5 years?
  • Approximately how many miles do you drive each year?
  • What type of car will you be insuring?  

Once you have provided answers to the above (as well as a few more simple questions), you will either receive your quote online or via email.

What Should You Look At When Selecting a Car Insurance Provider?

Red car near the beach

Not all car insurance companies are equal. What’s best for your brother may not be the best car insurance company for you. When you are researching a car insurance company, there are a few things you should keep in mind to help you with your decision:

Price

When selecting a car insurance provider, there are a lot of factors to consider, and the best car insurance for you may not be for everyone. Price is obviously a major contender, but it varies depending on factors.

What Affects Car Insurance Price?

Age: Age is one of the biggest factors, as most car insurance companies charge higher rates for teen drivers. We recommend getting quotes from several different insurance providers to determine which is right for you.
Individual state laws: As we told you at the beginning, car insurance in a legal requirement in most states, but not all. Check your state requirements to see if you need liability coverage, or if you will need additional coverage.

Driving history: When you apply for car insurance, the companies will ask you how old you were when you got your license, as well as whether or not you have been involved in any accident in the last 3-5 years, or have received any tickets.

Location: Your location will affect the price of your insurance.

Gaps in insurance coverage: If you are applying for car insurance after not having it for a period of time, this could raise your rates.

The make and model of your car: The type of car you drive will affect your car insurance rates. If you drive a reliable, safe car with airbags, for instance, your insurance rates will be cheaper than if you drive a luxury convertible.

Your annual mileage: The more you drive, the higher your car insurance will be. This makes sense, as the more you drive, the more your chance of getting in an accident increases.

Discounts

Many car insurance companies provide discounts for good driving, policy bundling, smart students, paperless statements and more. Once you have an idea of the base rate, make sure to research what discounts each policy provides to see if you can lower your monthly premium. This can be done online or by talking to a representative.

Financial Rating

Financial security is important for an insurance company, as it indicates how well a company can pay claims. You’ll want to look at what rate companies such as S&P, A.M. Best and Moody’s give each insurance provider. The best car insurance companies will have A and higher ratings.

Summary

Car on tow truck bed

In conclusion, you need car insurance. Driving without it isn’t just illegal in most states, but it puts you at risk financially. If you are at-fault in an accident, you are legally required to cover the costs of the car you hit, as well as any medical bills incurred by the other party. Imagine you hit a brand new Ferrari and the driver winds up in the hospital for an extended stay, requires surgery, physical therapy, and more. You could be liable for half a million dollars! If you don’t have car insurance, that money will need to come out of your pocket. If you do, then thankfully your car insurance company will cover the costs.

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