10 best car insurance companies of 2021

Adelicia Caree

MarketWatch has highlighted these products and services because we think readers will find them useful. This content is independent of the MarketWatch newsroom and we may receive a commission if you buy products through links in this article. The best car insurance companies on the market not only offer great […]

MarketWatch has highlighted these products and services because we think readers will find them useful. This content is independent of the MarketWatch newsroom and we may receive a commission if you buy products through links in this article.

The best car insurance companies on the market not only offer great coverage and affordable payments. They also have a simple claims process, easy-to-use technology, and an excellent customer service experience.

Choosing the best auto insurance provider for you can be intimidating. That’s why we’ve done the legwork for you, narrowing down the top 10 car insurance companies in the industry. In this article, we’ll review company reputation, availability, coverage options, discounts and the customer experience — going into detail on the five best providers.

To make sure you’re equipped with the right information, we’ll also discuss what factors affect the cost of car insurance as well as how to find the best rates. To start comparing free quotes from high-quality, cheap auto insurance companies in your area, click below.

In this article:

  • The best car insurance companies on the market

  • What are the types of auto insurance?

  • What affects the cost of car insurance?

  • How to find the best car insurance rates

  • Which car insurance company is best for you?

  • Our methodology

The best car insurance companies on the market

After thoroughly researching the auto insurance market, 10 companies stood out among the competition. When ranking these insurers, our team considered state availability, breadth of coverage, pricing and satisfaction scores from experts like J.D. Power. We also took into account AM Best financial strength ratings and complaint volume as reported by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Each insurer was graded on a 10-point scale.

Car Insurance Company

Our Award

Overall Rating

Cost Rating

Customer Experience Rating

#1 GEICO

Best Overall

9.1

8.5

9.0

#2 USAA

Best for Military Families

9.1

9.5

9.5

#3 Progressive

Best for High-Risk Drivers

9.0

8.5

8.5

#4 State Farm

Best for Students

8.6

8.0

7.5

#5 Liberty Mutual

Best for Young Drivers

8.5

7.5

8.0

#6 AAA

Best for AAA Members

8.4

8.0

8.5

#7 The Hartford

8.4

8.0

7.0

#8 Allstate

8.2

6.5

7.5

#9 Nationwide

8.2

7.0

6.5

#10 Farmers

8.0

6.0

7.0

#1 GEICO: Best Overall

Availability: 50 states

Year Established: 1936

Headquarters: Chevy Chase, Md.

GEICO is our first choice for the best car insurance in the nation. The insurer provides the six standard types of auto insurance — liability, collision, comprehensive, medical payments (MedPay), personal injury protection (PIP) and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage — as well as a few additional options. These add-on coverages include:

  • Emergency roadside assistance

  • Rental reimbursement

  • Mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI)

  • Rideshare insurance

GEICO received an A++ (Superior) rating from AM Best, meaning the company has the financial backing to pay customers’ insurance claims. A larger auto insurer like GEICO comes with more financial stability compared to a smaller, local company.

However, the size of an insurer can impact its customer service. GEICO may not have the best service on the market, but it’s rated higher than many other companies in customer experience. In the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Auto Insurance Satisfaction StudySM, for example, GEICO regularly outperformed the regional average nationwide. It was also the highest performing auto insurer in the North Central region and the Northwest region.

Regarding cost, GEICO’s rates are some of the most affordable we’ve seen. On top of that, the insurer offers a number of ways to save money, including a good driver discount (up to 26% off), a good student discount (up to 15% off) and a multi-vehicle discount (up to 25% off).

#2 USAA: Best for Military Families

Availability: 50 states

Year Established: 1922

Headquarters: San Antonio

USAA regularly tops J.D. Power auto insurance studies as one of the best car insurance providers in terms of customer satisfaction and value. The company is well-known for its high customer ratings and affordable coverage options, including accident forgiveness. However, it’s not No. 1 on our list due to its strict eligibility requirements.

USAA auto insurance is only available to military members and their families, which greatly restricts who can purchase coverage. If you are eligible for a USAA insurance policy, it’s one of the best options available. Beyond the standards types of car insurance, USAA offers:

  • Roadside assistance

  • Rental car reimbursement

  • Accident forgiveness

  • Glass coverage

  • Guaranteed asset protection (GAP)

  • Car replacement assistance (CRA)

  • Rideshare insurance

USAA received an A++ from AM Best and an A- from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The auto insurer made up 6.01% of the market share in 2019, according to the NAIC. Though it’s not the largest auto insurer, USAA still has reputable financial strength. In 2019, the company wrote $15.23 billion in auto insurance premiums.

While USAA does not have many physical locations, policyholders are still impressed by the company’s customer service. USAA tops the J.D. Power Satisfaction Study in every U.S. region, though it’s unranked due to its eligibility criteria. The auto insurer also only accounted for 0.79% of the market’s customer complaints in 2019 according to the NAIC.

USAA is known for its affordability as well. It offers discounts based on driver safety, vehicle safety, multiple policies, safety features like airbags and more.

#3 Progressive: Best for High-Risk Drivers

Availability: 50 states

Year Established: 1937

Headquarters: Mayfield Village, Ohio

If you are under 21, are an elderly driver or have received a DUI/DWI, Progressive may be the best car insurance option for you. The company offers some of the lowest rates for high-risk drivers, which often means drivers with several moving violations.

Aside from the standard types of car insurance coverage, Progressive offers:

  • Roadside assistance

  • Rental car reimbursement

  • Loan/lease payoff

  • Custom parts and equipment value

  • Rideshare coverage

While Progressive has mixed customer service reviews — it often scored just under the regional average in the J.D. Power Satisfaction Study — it does offer strong financial stability. AM Best rated Progressive A+, and the company also wrote over $31 billion in premiums in 2019, according to the NAIC.

Progressive offers multiple auto insurance discounts as well as a few tools to help lower your rates. Many of its discounts are usage-based, like the Snapshot program. Using a mobile app that tracks and records your driving habits, Progressive rewards safe driving behavior with premium discounts. On average, drivers save $145 on their policy according to Progressive. However, this program is not available in California or North Carolina.

Drivers interested in Progressive policies should also look into the Name Your Price tool. The insurer will customize a variety of coverage options based on your auto insurance budget.

#4 State Farm: Best for Students

Availability: 48 states (excludes Massachusetts and Rhode Island)

Year Established: 1922

Headquarters: Bloomington, Ill.

State Farm is another strong choice when it comes to finding the best auto insurance in the industry. Beyond the standard types of coverage, State Farm offers:

  • Emergency road service coverage

  • Car rental and travel expenses coverage

  • Rideshare driver coverage

As the biggest car insurance company in the country, State Farm is no stranger to claims satisfaction – the company boasts an A++ rating from AM Best. According to the NAIC, State Farm accounted for 16.14% of the auto insurance market share in 2019. However, the auto insurer also accounted for 3.09% of customer complaints, which is relatively high compared to other insurers. Overall, State Farm’s customer satisfaction ratings are mixed.

We named State Farm the Best for Students in part because of the usage-based and safe driving discounts it offers to young drivers. There are two discount programs available through mobile apps:

  • Drive Safe & SaveTM: State Farm tracks and rewards safe driving habits through the Drive Safe & Save mobile app. By reducing driving behaviors like quick accelerations, hard braking and speeding, drivers can earn up to 30% off their premiums. This program is not available in California, Massachusetts, New York or Rhode Island.

  • Steer Clear: Teens and new drivers can receive course training, mentoring, driving practice and a program certification to encourage good driving habits. After successfully completing the program, drivers get a discount on their auto insurance premium.

Other State Farm auto insurance discounts include driving training discounts, safe vehicle discounts, loyal customer discounts and more. The company does not offer a military discount.

#5 Liberty Mutual: Best for Young Drivers

Availability: 50 states

Year Established: 1912

Headquarters: Boston

Liberty Mutual is the best car insurance provider for families with young or teen drivers. The insurer offers competitive rates and discounts, many of which are specialized for young drivers.

There are several additional coverage options alongside the standard insurance types, including:

  • 24-hour roadside assistance

  • Rental car reimbursement

  • New car replacement

  • Better car replacement

  • Liberty Mutual Deductible Fund
  • Original parts replacement

  • Auto loan/lease guaranteed asset protection

Though it doesn’t boast as high an AM Best score as the other top insurers in this review, Liberty Mutual still earned an A rating for its financial stability and ability to pay out insurance claims. The insurer’s customer service, however, has mixed reviews. Some customers report issues with communication, while others positively review the company’s claims process.

Liberty Mutual is often an affordable choice for policyholders with teen drivers. However, it may not be the cheapest option for other types of drivers. The auto insurer offers a number of discounts, including savings for homeowners, military, good students, drivers that remain accident-free and more.

To see how much you would pay for coverage from the best car insurance companies, click below.

What are the types of auto insurance?

Most auto insurers offer six standard types of car insurance. Based on your state’s minimum requirements, some types of auto insurance policies are mandatory. However, it’s always a good idea to purchase full coverage rather than just the state minimum coverage.

  • Liability insurance: Bodily injury liability (BI) covers other drivers and passengers if you are at fault in a collision, and property damage liability (PD) covers other cars or property if you are at fault in a collision.

  • Collision coverage: This coverage protects your own vehicle, regardless of fault.

  • Comprehensive coverage: This coverage pays for damages to your vehicle caused by environmental factors, theft or vandalism.

  • Medical payments (MedPay): MedPay covers any medical expenses for you and your passengers after a collision.

  • Personal injury protection (PIP): PIP covers medical bills, lost wages and death benefits for you and your passengers, regardless of fault.

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM): This type of coverage protects you if you’re in a car accident with a motorist with too little coverage or no coverage at all.

Most states require a combination of bodily injury liability coverage, property damage liability coverage and medical coverage.

What affects the cost of car insurance?

The cost of car insurance is influenced by a variety of factors, some of which are in a driver’s control and some of which are not. To ensure you’re getting the best insurance rate, understand what you can control.

  • Location: Drivers in larger, more urban cities will often face higher auto insurance rates. Insurers factor in the higher likelihood of a collision due to increased traffic and vehicles per capita in cities.

  • Age: Drivers under the age of 25 and elderly drivers are typically given high insurance premiums, as these types of drivers are considered higher risk. New drivers, regardless of age, will also have higher auto insurance costs.

  • Driving history: If you’ve had several collisions, moving violations or a DUI/DWI, a car insurance policy will cost more. On the other hand, a clean driving record will lead to a lower overall cost.

  • Credit score: Your credit history can affect the rates you get. A high credit score indicates to insurers that a driver is a reliable and financially responsible individual, meaning that their auto insurance policy will cost less.

  • Vehicle type: Often, drivers with pricey sports cars will pay more for the best car insurance, because repairs are more expensive after an accident.

  • Deductible: A lower deductible leads to a higher overall premium cost.

How to find the best car insurance rates

Getting the most affordable car insurance rates can be tricky, especially with the amount of information drivers need to know about policies. We’ve laid out five key steps below that explain how to find the best car insurance rates for your budget.

1. Get multiple auto insurance quotes. It’s always a good idea to compare quotes between auto insurers. Based on your driver profile and the other factors we listed above, your auto insurance cost can vary greatly. Some insurance providers offer affordable rates to senior drivers, while others provide cheap car insurance for new or teen drivers. Before settling on a price, make sure you reach out to multiple auto insurers.

2. Seek out discounts. Discount offers vary from provider to provider. Depending on your needs and eligibility, some insurers may offer multiple discounts, discount bundling or driving programs to lower your insurance rates. Safe driving programs are an excellent way to reduce insurance costs, especially for young drivers. In some cases, these driving monitors can offer up to a 30% discount.

3. Opt for a higher deductible. While it may seem burdensome at first, a higher deductible can significantly reduce your overall auto insurance costs. Ask your insurance provider which deductible options are available for your coverage plan, and play around with how each affects your annual premium. Keep in mind, though, that you will need to be able to pay your deductible in the event of a claim.

4. Keep your credit in check. Make sure to pay any credit card bills on time and take the time to see if there are additional ways to improve your credit score. Paying your balance in full and keeping your balances low will also help increase your credit score.

5. Consider your vehicle. While it’s not feasible for every driver, purchasing a more reliable vehicle with fewer miles can lower your insurance costs.

Which car insurance company is best for you?

The best car insurance company can vary based on your individual needs and driver profile. We recommend GEICO as the Best Overall provider for most drivers based on its affordability, strong financial standing and positive customer service ratings.

It’s always a good idea to compare multiple insurers. Fill out the form below to get free car insurance quotes from our top-recommended providers.

Our methodology

Because consumers rely on us to provide objective and accurate information, we created a comprehensive rating system to formulate our rankings of the best car insurance companies. We collected data on dozens of auto insurance providers to grade the companies on a wide range of ranking factors. The end result was an overall rating for each provider, with the insurers that scored the most points topping the list.

Here are the factors our ratings take into account:

  • Reputation: Our research team considered market share, ratings from industry experts and years in business when giving this score.

  • Availability: Auto insurance companies with greater state availability and few eligibility requirements scored highest in this category.

  • Coverage: Companies that offer a variety of choices for insurance coverage are more likely to meet consumer needs.

  • Cost: Average auto insurance rates and discount opportunities were both taken into consideration.

  • Customer Experience: This score is based on volume of complaints reported by the NAIC and customer satisfaction ratings reported by J.D. Power. We also considered the responsiveness, friendliness and helpfulness of each insurance company’s customer service team based on our own shopper analysis.

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