Choosing the Right Auto Insurance
They review everything! Studies show that majority of auto insurance policy holders rarely check to see if they can get less expensive coverage than their current policy. But with the average driver experiencing a fender-bender at least a few times in their lifetime, taking a closer look at your auto insurance can save you a lot of headaches, and also save you money. Reviews.com reviewed 41 of the best auto insurance providers to determine which had the best ability to serve customers and actually pay out claims; not just on premium cost. Here is what they found:
Best Overall — The Hartford
The Hartford ranked second-highest for claims satisfaction in J.D. Power’s 2016 study with a score of 891 out of 950. (USAA ranked number one with a score of 895, but we couldn’t make it a top pick due to its military-only eligibility requirements.) The study involved over 12,000 recent claimants, but excluded those whose vehicles were stolen, incurred only glass damage, and those who “only filed a roadside assistance claim.” When you break that down, it means that out of all the people who sustained substantial damage to their vehicle, The Hartford’s customers were the happiest.
The Hartford falls behind Nationwide with regard to GAP insurance, but bests its main competitor with new car replacement, stacked uninsured motorist, and rental car coverages. Stacking uninsured motorist coverage isn’t legal in every state, but those who can take advantage of it can increase their levels of underinsured or uninsured motorist coverages with minimal cost. If you live in a state that forbids having UM/UIM coverages that are higher than your liability coverage, stacking allows you to increase your UM/UIM without having to buy more liability.
The Hartford offered all but two of the 16 different discount types we looked for, including a rare discount for those who drive electric vehicles. No other nationally available insurer offers more discounts, except for Progressive (which didn’t make it into our list of finalists due to subpar financial strength ratings). The two discounts it doesn’t offer are loyalty and military.
If The Hartford has an Achilles’ heel, it would be the online quote process. We tried over a dozen different approaches, but were always met with, “We are unable to process your insurance transaction online. In order to finish your quote, please contact us by phone.” Truth be told, it kinda feels like The Hartford never intended to give a full quote online at all, which we’d consider a misleading way to generate leads.
Runner-Up — Nationwide
Nationwide has the third-highest J.D. Power satisfaction ratings in the nation (behind USAA and The Hartford), and that’s mainly why it’s our Runner-Up pick. Amica is the only other company we reviewed that landed in J.D. Power’s top echelon, but it didn’t have the financial strength to knock Nationwide off the second-place pedestal. Nationwide’s financial stability ratings (an A+ from A.M. Best and S&P) are right on par with The Hartford. Any of our five finalists will be able to pay your claim without breaking a sweat, but having top marks in both claims and financial strength is commendable in our book.
Nationwide is also the only auto insurance provider aside from Progressive that offers “Pet Injury Coverage.” So if Whiskers sustains a broken leg after someone rear-ends your car at a stoplight, you won’t have to pay the vet bill out of pocket. You can also buy full-on pet health plans from Nationwide a la carte.
If you’re a frequent traveler, it’s important to note that Nationwide is one of only two countrywide insurers that does not offer rental car coverage. (The General is the other.) Yes, you can buy statutory minimum liability insurance from the rental company, but Neil Abrams, an auto rental consultant for Abrams Consulting Group, told US News and World Report that “in a significant event, that’s not going to do much for you.” He went on to say that in the technical sense, “it’s not insurance.” On top of that, rental car companies’ agreements are riddled with fine print, so the path with the least amount of stress is leaving that coverage up to your primary auto insurance provider. Unfortunately, Nationwide can’t provide it.
Nationwide customers also can’t take advantage of prepay discounts, low-mileage discounts, new car replacement coverage, or stacked uninsured motorist coverage. None of those are deal breakers by any means, but all are available from The Hartford.