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5 ways to compare car insurance companies

By Posted : July 10, 2017

five ways to compare car insurance companiesComparing car insurance companies is easy, once you know what to look for.

The cutest mascot shouldn't be the deciding factor.

Car insurance companies evaluate and appeal to different drivers. For instance, some companies specialize in families, others in older drivers and some in drivers with tarnished driving records. So comparing car insurance companies is just as important as comparing car insurance quotes.

By doing your homework, you can save hundreds of dollars by comparing car insurance companies and rates. And that's easy with Insurance.com's quote comparison tool. 

Our online quote comparison tool let's you see side-by-side car insurance rates:

  • By completing one form, you will remove the hassle of filling out multiple forms from various carriers.
  • You will get online car insurance quotes directly from top carriers in our network.
  • You will see multiple quotes from major insurance companies all on one page that will allow you to compare rates and make an educated choice. 

Get affordable auto insurance quotes>

Here are five ways to compare car insurance companies and find your best match.

1. Research the car insurance company’s consumer track record.

To narrow down your search among car insurance companies, Hunter recommends starting with your state insurance commission's website (State car insurance information).

"Most states have a buyer's guide for auto insurance that lists the companies that sell insurance in your state," says J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America in Washington, D.C.Compare insurance quote

For an overall rating of company performance, including complaint ratios and financial ratings (A.M. Best), Insure.com's "Best insurance companies" will give you a great summary of top companies.

Hunter says state complaint ratios are more important than financial ratings for car insurance. Every state has an insurance guaranty fund that will pay some claims if the insurance company goes bust. It's still prudent, though, to check up on the insurer's financial health.

"However, if you're only shopping every few years, then you should look at the A.M. Best ratings just to make sure the insurance company is financially solvent and can pay you if you need to make a claim," he says.

"The two most important things to look at when choosing an auto insurance company are the price and the claims service," says Hunter. "Choose the company that has both a low level of customer complaints and low prices."

2. Compare complaint ratios.

Hunter suggests choosing five to seven companies and checking their complaint records on the National Association of Insurance Commissioner's (NAIC) website or on your state’s insurance department website. "You can quickly knock out the companies with the highest number of complaints, because you never want to work with an insurance company that doesn't offer good customer service," says Hunter.

To access this information, go to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' Consumer Information Source. The site shows reports of insurer’s national complaint statistics. Enter the company name and type of insurance in the search box and you'll see a list of reports.

You can find complaint ratio reports that show the ratio of the company's U.S. market share of closed complaints compared to the company's market share of premiums. Using this formula prevents larger insurance companies from being unfairly graded for having more complaints simply due to customer size. Compare the company's complaint ratio number with the national median provided. You can also review the complaint trend report to see whether the company's complaints have been increasing or decreasing over time.

As of late June, auto insurance complaints accounted for 29 percent of those investigated by state insurance departments, ranking second behind accident and health with 47 percent, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Claims-handling delays topped the complaint list, (16%) followed by denial of claims (14%) and unsatisfactory settlement offers (11%). Claim-handling/prompt payment ranked fourth, with 6 percent. When comparing car insurance companies, check to be sure ones you’re considering do not have lots of complaints in these areas. 

Hunter also recommends checking the most recent Consumer Reports survey of car insurance providers.

3. Compare the exact same coverage when comparing car insurance companies.

The best way to save on your car insurance is to buy only what you need, says Hunter. Use Insurance.com's calculator to get a recommendation of how much car insurance to buy.

Insurance.com's car insurance coverage calculator >

"If you have good health insurance you don't need to pay extra for PIP (Personal Injury Protection), and if you have an older car, you don't always need to pay for collision insurance."

Hunter says most people only need liability coverage and uninsured motorist coverage of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence.

He says you should establish your desired coverage limits before shopping and then be sure to use those same limits for every car insurance quote.

Auto insurance companies average rates by state

Below you'll see how major car insurance companies compare in your state for price for full coverage ($100,000 per person in liability, up to $300,000 per accident, with $100,000 in property damage liablity; comprehensive and collision carrying a $500 deductible). Enter your state in the search field to see major insurers ranked cheapest to most expensive.

StateCompanyAverage annual rate
AlaskaState Farm$979
AlaskaGeico$1,075
AlaskaProgressive$1,080
AlaskaAllstate$1,304
AlabamaGeico$759
AlabamaMid Century$1,172
AlabamaNationwide$1,197
AlabamaAllstate$1,257
AlabamaState Farm$1,572
AlabamaProgressive$1,840
ArkansasGeico$980
ArkansasState Farm$1,165
ArkansasFarmers$1,176
ArkansasNationwide$1,483
ArkansasProgressive$1,594
ArkansasAllstate$1,821
ArizonaGeico$977
ArizonaProgressive$1,047
ArizonaFarmers$1,195
ArizonaState Farm$1,392
ArizonaNationwide$1,719
ArizonaAllstate$1,807
CaliforniaGeico$944
CaliforniaUnited Financial$1,128
CaliforniaNationwide$1,379
CaliforniaNationwide$1,756
CaliforniaFarmers$1,932
CaliforniaState Farm$1,967
ColoradoGeico$813
ColoradoState Farm$1,241
ColoradoFarmers$1,516
ColoradoProgressive$1,559
ColoradoAllstate$1,889
ConnecticutGeico$946
ConnecticutNationwide$1,254
ConnecticutState Farm$1,463
ConnecticutProgressive$2,026
ConnecticutAllstate$2,462
ConnecticutForemost$2,478
DCGeico$713
DCProgressive$1,496
DCState Farm$1,518
DCNationwide$1,977
DCAllstate$2,913
DelawareGeico$1,134
DelawareProgressive$1,333
DelawareNationwide$1,492
DelawareState Farm$1,872
DelawareAllstate$2,398
FloridaGeico$1,192
FloridaState Farm$1,611
FloridaProgressive$1,754
Florida21st Century Centennial$1,972
FloridaAllstate$2,584
GeorgiaGeico$762
GeorgiaNationwide$1,303
GeorgiaState Farm$1,372
GeorgiaProgressive$1,563
GeorgiaAllstate$1,701
HawaiiGeico$857
HawaiiState Farm$1,023
HawaiiAllstate$1,389
HawaiiProgressive$1,646
HawaiiFarmers$2,376
IowaAmco Ins Co$645
IowaGeico$693
IowaFarmers$933
IowaState Farm$945
IowaProgressive$1,286
IowaAllstate$1,589
IdahoGeico$713
IdahoFarmers$800
IdahoState Farm$845
IdahoProgressive$848
IdahoDepositors Ins Co$863
IdahoAllstate$1,577
IllinoisGeico$590
IllinoisAmco Ins Co$678
IllinoisState Farm$1,011
IllinoisIllinois Farmers$1,170
IllinoisProgressive$1,193
IllinoisAllstate$1,375
IndianaGeico$651
IndianaIllinois Farmers$748
IndianaProgressive$854
IndianaNationwide$866
IndianaState Farm$1,095
IndianaAllstate$1,569
KansasNationwide$814
KansasGeico$823
KansasState Farm$1,166
KansasFarmers$1,249
KansasProgressive$1,682
KansasAllstate$1,718
KentuckyGeico$881
KentuckyNationwide$1,631
KentuckyProgressive$1,693
KentuckyState Farm$1,734
KentuckyAllstate$2,822
LouisianaGeico$1,540
LouisianaState Farm$2,023
LouisianaAllstate$2,316
LouisianaProgressive$2,881
MassachusettsGeico$865
MassachusettsState Farm$884
MassachusettsProgressive$1,272
MassachusettsAllstate$1,742
MarylandProgressive$1,102
MarylandNationwide$1,114
MarylandGeico$1,199
MarylandState Farm$1,357
MarylandAllstate$2,177
MaineGeico$517
MaineState Farm$948
MaineProgressive$1,025
MaineAllstate$1,212
MichiganGeico$1,027
MichiganProgressive$1,714
MichiganTitan$2,177
MichiganAllstate$2,849
MichiganState Farm$3,135
MichiganFarmers$3,999
MinnesotaGeico$935
MinnesotaIllinois Farmers$1,030
MinnesotaAllied$1,188
MinnesotaState Farm$1,190
MinnesotaProgressive$1,295
MinnesotaAllstate$1,483
MissouriAllied$724
MissouriGeico$800
MissouriFarmers$1,051
MissouriState Farm$1,279
MissouriProgressive$1,303
MissouriAllstate$1,769
MississippiGeico$894
MississippiNationwide$1,184
MississippiProgressive Gulf Ins Co$1,268
MississippiState Farm$1,353
MississippiAllstate$1,917
MontanaGeico$848
MontanaProgressive$1,112
MontanaState Farm$1,149
MontanaDepositors$1,238
MontanaMid Century$1,244
MontanaAllstate$1,753
North CarolinaProgressive$622
North CarolinaGeico$704
North CarolinaState Farm$845
North CarolinaFarmers$1,046
North CarolinaNationwide$1,071
North CarolinaNationwide$1,205
North CarolinaAllstate$1,230
North DakotaAllied$753
North DakotaGeico$897
North DakotaProgressive$1,047
North DakotaState Farm$1,132
North DakotaAllstate$1,502
North DakotaMid Century$2,560
NebraskaAllied$711
NebraskaGeico$978
NebraskaState Farm$1,003
NebraskaMid Century$1,192
NebraskaAllstate$1,393
NebraskaProgressive$1,403
New HampshireGeico$550
New HampshireNationwide$867
New HampshireState Farm$1,036
New HampshireProgressive$1,465
New HampshireAllstate$1,588
New Jersey21st Century Centennial$762
New JerseyGeico$1,104
New JerseyProgressive$1,255
New JerseyAllstate NJ$1,761
New JerseyState Farm$1,847
New MexicoGeico$894
New MexicoProgressive$998
New MexicoState Farm$1,177
New MexicoFarmers$1,251
New MexicoAllstate$1,948
NevadaGeico$1,342
NevadaMid Century$1,537
NevadaProgressive$1,663
NevadaState Farm$1,726
NevadaVictoria$1,955
NevadaAllstate$2,256
New YorkGeico$993
New YorkProgressive$1,160
New YorkAllstate$1,587
New YorkState Farm$1,855
New YorkNationwide$2,098
New YorkForemost$2,858
OhioGeico$619
OhioState Farm$881
OhioFarmers$887
OhioProgressive$999
OhioNationwide$1,015
OhioAllstate$1,310
OklahomaGeico$1,050
OklahomaFarmers$1,327
OklahomaState Farm$1,416
OklahomaAllstate$1,918
OklahomaProgressive$2,506
OregonGeico$933
OregonState Farm$1,043
OregonNationwide$1,121
OregonProgressive$1,238
OregonFarmers$1,594
OregonAllstate$1,656
PennsylvaniaGeico$703
PennsylvaniaNationwide$711
PennsylvaniaState Farm$1,284
PennsylvaniaAllstate$1,729
PennsylvaniaProgressive$3,183
Rhode IslandState Farm$1,132
Rhode IslandGeico$1,292
Rhode IslandNationwide$1,678
Rhode IslandProgressive$2,092
Rhode IslandAllstate$2,246
South CarolinaGeico$1,050
South CarolinaAllstate$1,178
South CarolinaNationwide$1,200
South CarolinaProgressive$1,359
South CarolinaState Farm$1,511
South DakotaGeico$708
South DakotaNationwide$938
South DakotaMid Century$982
South DakotaState Farm$1,052
South DakotaProgressive$1,110
South DakotaAllstate$1,562
TennesseeGeico$764
TennesseeNationwide$796
TennesseeState Farm$1,131
TennesseeProgressive$1,223
TennesseeMid Century$1,576
TennesseeAllstate$1,794
TexasFarmers$905
TexasGeico$1,027
TexasColonial$1,247
TexasProgressive$1,328
TexasState Farm$1,348
TexasAllstate$1,949
UtahGeico$684
UtahMid Century$1,016
UtahAllied$1,119
UtahAllstate$1,353
UtahProgressive$1,503
UtahState Farm$1,518
VirginiaNationwide$744
VirginiaGeico$894
VirginiaState Farm$969
VirginiaAllstate$1,102
VirginiaProgressive$1,150
VermontGeico$485
VermontNationwide$789
VermontProgressive$1,103
VermontAllstate$1,183
VermontState Farm$1,255
WashingtonNationwide$1,028
WashingtonGeico$1,075
WashingtonProgressive$1,092
WashingtonState Farm$1,160
WashingtonFarmers$1,335
WashingtonAllstate$1,455
WisconsinGeico$663
WisconsinState Farm$914
WisconsinMid Century$1,021
WisconsinArtisan$1,176
WisconsinAllstate$1,484
WisconsinNationwide$2,851
West VirginiaGeico$1,149
West VirginiaProgressive$1,238
West VirginiaState Farm$1,309
West VirginiaNationwide$1,327
West VirginiaAllstate$1,853
WyomingState Farm$1,128
WyomingGeico$1,287
WyomingFarmers$1,688
WyomingAllstate$1,874

*Rates were fielded by Quadrant Information Services from up to six major insurers in nearly every ZIP code of each state. Driver profile: male, age 40, married, clean record and good credit, driving 2016 Honda Accord.

4. Check for car insurance discounts.

 

Before you begin comparing car insurance quotes, make sure you know about your potential car insurance discounts for things like bundling home and auto insurance with the same company, good grades, a good driving record, anti-theft devices and anti-lock brakes. Ask each insurance company for any other possible discounts so that you are comparing the lowest possible rates.

You can also raise your car insurance deductible on collision and comprehensive coverage to reduce your premiums. If you do this, make sure you are using the same deductible with each company so that your rate comparison is accurate.

5. Compare optional auto insurance coverage.

Many insurance companies offer optional coverage for things like rental car coverage while your car is being repaired, towing and labor coverage or even CD/DVD replacement costs if these items are stolen from your car.

"Don't take any optional insurance coverage unless you really think you need it," says Hunter.

However, if one company offers optional coverage that you want at the same price or close to the price of another company's insurance policy without the optional extras, it may be worth choosing the policy with the options, says Hunter.

Related article: How to compare car insurance quotes - gives additional details and tips when you're shopping for car insurance.

Find car insurance quotes with our quote comparison tool >

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Check this box if you, your spouse or a parent ever served in the armed services.