I was recently asked what I thought about car insurance companies and is there a “best” one. Well, essentially best is objective to so many circumstances that you cannot really find one “best” company when considering all the factors involved. These include the price of the premium versus the content of the policy, and then there is the time it takes to process a complaint and the outcome of a claim. Paying less premium for more coverage is not a sign of the best when the company involved doesn’t pay out when required, or of the process is convoluted and restricted.
In this article, I look at the best insurance companies based on application, and not as a comprehensive best, which actually doesn’t really exist.
When comparing all the data of each sub-set, I found that Erie is the overall winner, or best, when it comes to all the sub-categories. These sub-categories include size, handling of claims, military, low mileage driving, handling accidents, and shopping experience.
This is the list of the categories and their winners and then I will go into more detail with each one.
- Overall Best: Erie
- Best of the Largest Companies: State Farm
- Best at Handling Accident Issues: Progressive
- Best for Military Clients: USAA
- Best for Low Mileage: Metromile
- Best for handling claims: The Hartford
- Best for shopping experience: Liberty Mutual
Now, let’s take a look at each one and understand why they deserve their titles.
Overall Best: Erie
Erie earned this title because they provide an all-round package of experience and content that screams the best. It starts by allowing you to secure a quote online in a fast and easy process. The variety of policies available is also exceptional, and they include such coverage as pets, free accident forgiveness, free vanishing deductibles, and roadside assistance, as well as much more.
Erie provides you with more flexibility and diversity than all the other companies. They also have a unique rate lock program that locks your payment rates when you move to a different area, when you add or remove someone from your policy, or when you add or subtract a car. Note that while adding locks the rate, so does subtract, so it’s a double edged sword, but still convenient.
Erie’s policies include a plethora of discounts that cover bundling, anti-lock brakes, anti-theft, young driver, a senior driver, and many more.
The only con to the title was the availability or accessibility to the general public. Erie is only available in Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Another issue is automation if you want a totally automated experience without having to talk to an agent, forget it, with Erie you have to talk to an agent at some point. I personally like that, but some think it’s not necessary for this digital age.
Best of the Largest Companies: State Farm
State Farm is one of the big five insurance companies that includes GEICO, Allstate, Progressive, and Farmers. In total size, State Farm is the biggest, as such it benefits from the largest network of agents with over 18,000 locations nationwide. As such, you always have a free and available agent to handle most cases.
Discounts are another area that State Farm excels in, and you have around 15 different discount options available that adds up to a lot of money saved. Another plus was the shopping experience, which stood about for State Farm, perhaps due to the many agents available.
The downside of State Farm is how they handle claims and is slow mainly due to it’s seized. The larger the company, the slower the process, and remember all claims go through the same process of validation, verification, authentication and any form of “cation” that can make sure they don’t need to pay out.
If you are a large “legacy” carrier, then size does matter, and you would want to go with State Farm.
Best at Handling Accident Issues: Progressive
When you enter an accident, you have to consider the participating rates, and Progressive was by far the easiest to work with since they increased the rates by 29% which is significantly cheaper than the competition that starts at a 35% increase.
Progressive, as the name suggests, is a modern company with a totally automated online process. This is a boon to some that don’t want to spend time talking to a person. Although what I found interesting is that when you make a claim, you don’t want to talk to a machine. Having said this, I can state that Progressive has an excellent customer service department and their agents handle cases in a fast and efficient manner when compared to other companies.
Best for Military Clients: USAA
Being a vet or an active military person carries with it certain advantages, one of these is that not only do you get to have a USAA auto insurance policy, but if one of your parents, or parent-in-law, or your spouse is or was in the military you are eligible for USAA auto insurance.
USAA provides military and military-related clients with an exceptional policy that is the best when compared to all others, and this goes into all aspect from cost to claim.
Best for Low Mileage: Metromile
One of the biggest issues with car insurance is the actual non-driving part of it. Essentially, a large percentage of the population drives less than 4 hours a day, and as such, the majority of the time, your car is standing in a parking location.
If you don’t drive so many miles than you want a company that has a low mileage policy, and this is where Metromile step in. They have a special low mileage policy that covers up to 7,500 a year. However, with this nice policy comes to rather lackluster claims handling side to things. So yes, its best for low mileage, but would you want to use them?
One other major issue with Metromile is that it is only available in seven states: CA, IL, NJ, OR, PA, VA, WA.
Best for handling claims: The Hartford
The Hartford is also known as AARP; this company scored top points out of all when it came to customer satisfaction with handling claims. The claim process starts at the accident and goes through the as step-wise process including witness reports, repairs, police reports, hospital claims and more. No matter how simple or complex the accident was, AARP handles it better than all others.
Best for shopping experience: Liberty Mutual
Both Liberty Mutual and Erie tied for this category. However, Erie has a title, so we can give this to Liberty Mutual. What shopping experience means is how well was the policy choice and process acquired by clients. As such, Liberty Mutual has a very flexible and diverse number of policies with exceptional digital and human services supporting the experience.
As you can see, there was a best” rated overall, but when you focus on some key issues, it failed against others. So when you go shopping for insurance, try to whittle down your requirements so you can focus on what is best for you. Budget is not always the main issue for some, and different drivers in different states require different policies based on their driving abilities, their vehicle, and the applications they intend to drive for.