If you’ve ever compared car insurance rates, you know how many options are available. Depending on a variety of individual rating factors, certain companies will price your insurance differently. You could end up paying more by choosing the wrong company or failing to compare enough companies. We've outlined the factors that go into your car insurance premiums, as well as some tips for how to find the best possible rates. Let’s get started.
The cost of insurance is on the rise: the price for auto insurance rose 3.6% between 2011 and 2012, and 3.1% for homeowners and renter’s insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute. In fact, auto liability insurance premiums alone have been increasing by 2.8% annually for the past three years. This makes choosing the right coverage and provider all the more crucial to save money without sacrificing important aspects of coverage.
You’ll notice that none of that liability coverage pays for your car or injuries, nor for any injuries your passengers sustain if you cause a wreck. This is why many people — particularly those whose car isn’t yet paid off — want “full coverage” car insurance. This isn’t actually a type of coverage, but instead typically refers to policies that include liability coverage, plus comprehensive and collision coverages.

Farmers has the fifth-largest market share in Texas at 8.2%. According to J.D. Power, Texans are more impressed with their Farmers claims experiences than they are with Allstate’s. Unfortunately, Consumer Reports readers expressed a bit more annoyance with the timeliness of their payments when comparing Farmers to State Farm and Allstate. Farmers’ financial strength is also a couple of notches lower than the rest. This doesn’t mean that the company's about to go bankrupt — it’s just the difference between “quite stable” and “completely rock-solid.”


To ensure that providers’ financial affairs were up to snuff, we looked at independent evaluations from insurance rating and credit rating agencies A.M. Best, S&P Global, Moody’s, and J.D. Power. While each agency has its own rating scale, we required companies to have A or “above average” ratings from all four — solid indications that companies are in great financial health. Acquiring ratings from all four agencies also indicates that companies care enough about their business’ reputation to apply for these voluntary review processes. For an industry that’s centered around the principle of being there when you need help most, we found this focus on transparency to be the mark of a good provider. Smaller companies like Good Sam or National Interstate may provide seemingly better discounts, but they tend to only submit themselves for review to one or two agencies.
You should also look into how the company handles the claims process, as the single biggest indicator of home insurance customer satisfaction is the company’s damage estimates. If they have a reputation for not covering the agreed-upon replacement costs of property or dropping customers from their policy for filing a single claim, you should probably avoid that company.
Safeco’s coverage options include some less common offerings that may appeal to RV owners with more particular concerns. Along with Progressive, Safeco is one of the only insurers to provide pet injury insurance, along with total loss replacement for your RV in the event of an accident. On top of the original price of your RV, Safeco can also insure any custom AV equipment or decorative additions, such as a speaker system, TV, special flooring, wheels, or decals.

RV insurance isn’t the same thing as auto insurance, though many providers give you the option to bundle the two. But RVs have specialized concerns. To start, they can carry many more people than cars, and they cost more to repair. In addition to basic coverage, RV insurance can also offer more extensive protection, with coverage for personal belongings, emergency expenses for lodging, and higher damage rates.
Progressive has a few notable features worth highlighting — chief among them is their Snapshot safe driving program. Snapshot is a discount program that uses a telematics device, which is a $5 word that essentially means transmission. Via a plug-in device or Progressive's mobile app, drivers can elect to track their driving and have the information transmitted back to Progressive to analyze. You will be rewarded with policy discounts for safe driving habits, like staying within the speed limit, maintaining low mileage, avoiding late-night trips, hard breaks and phone usage. Progressive advertises an average discount of $145 for those who complete the program, which typically takes around six months.
With the input of over 200,000 users, Allstate boasts an impressive 4.8-star rating in the Apple App Store, which indicates that most customers are happy with the service. We especially like the QuickFoto feature: If you’re in an accident, just take pictures of the damage and a claims rep will come up with an estimate and give you a call within 24 hours.
Know when to cut coverage. Don’t strip away coverage just for the sake of cheaper insurance. You’ll need full coverage car insurance to satisfy the terms of an auto loan, and you’ll want it as long as your car would be a financial burden to replace. But for older cars, you can drop comprehensive and collision coverage, which only pay out up to your car’s current value, minus the deductible.
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