On average, an at-fault property damage accident will raise your premium by an average of $612 per year. Because most insurance providers will charge you for three years after an accident, this $612 increase equates to more than $1,800 in total fees. If you’re thinking of filing a claim, consider the overall cost of the claim versus what the claim would cost to pay out of pocket. Compare this $1,837 penalty — plus your deductible (if applicable) — to the out-of-pocket expense. While this is nice information to know before filing a claim, it won’t help if you’ve already filed a claim. If you have an at-fault accident on your insurance history, consider USAA or State Farm.
While you might want to finish shopping for car insurance as quickly as possible, it’s important to do your due diligence and find the right company. At the end of the day, car insurance is designed to protect and benefit you. If you were to be injured or have your car totaled in an accident, your insurer’s customer service and claims satisfaction would be vital.
The combination of record-setting natural disasters, an uptick in distracted-driving accidents and the increasing prevalence of tech-loaded vehicles that are expensive to repair mean insurers are likely to raise rates in 2019. These factors, coupled with the fact that insurers have failed to turn an underwriting profit in recent years—despite year-over-year rate increases—indicate that drivers will pay more for car insurance in the coming year.
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.
The best car insurance companies have a few things in common: They have straightforward shopping experiences, take good care of policyholders after a crash and treat their customers with respect and courtesy. That means only insurers with high customer satisfaction scores and relatively few complaints to insurance commissioners make it to the top of our list of the best auto insurance companies.
NerdWallet compared quotes from these insurers in ZIP codes across the country. Rates are for policies that include liability, collision, comprehensive, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages, as well as any other coverage required in each state. Our “good driver” profile is a 40-year-old with no moving violations and credit in the “good” tier.