Some people are looking to buy car insurance as cheaply as possible. Others are looking for the best car insurance.
What’s the difference?
While no car insurance policy will keep you from experiencing any loss or inconvenience at all, the best car insurance policies take care of the big problems and keep them from hurting your finances permanently.
The basics of getting the best car insurance
Consider the following:
- The nationwide average cost for state minimum liability coverage is $526. Increasing that coverage to $50,000/$100,000/$50,000 averages only $561. So, you only pay another $35 a year by increasing your coverage.
- If you increase liability protection to $100,000/$300,000/$100,000 to $50,000/$100,00/$50,000, the extra yearly cost is just $74, on average.
- When jumping from state minimum to full coverage, $100,000/$300,000/$100,000 with comprehensive and collision and a $500 deductible, the average rate goes up to $1,350, which is $824 more per year or $69 per month.
If your goal is “best” rather than “cheapest,” make sure you:
- Buy enough liability coverage. You personally are responsible for the costs of injuries and damage you do to others. Liability insurance covers that to a point. A homeowner with a family and any assets needs at least $100,000 in bodily injury liability coverage if he or she injures another driver. And you should buy enough property damage liability insurance to replace the car you hit. Most experts say that need is at least $50,000. Liability limits vary by state. Before settling on your coverage and company, you should research car insurance in your state, since different states have different laws that affect you and the amount of coverage required.
- Don’t worry about ultra-low deductibles. Higher deductibles on certain coverages -- comprehensive and collision -- will lower your premium. Just be sure you have some savings on hand to pay the higher deductible if you have to file a claim.
- Double-check your own health insurance. If you don’t have health insurance or you have a high-deductible health insurance plan, you may need to consider medical payments or first-party benefits. These coverages also protect your passengers, who would not be covered under your liability coverage.
- Assume that other drivers are unprepared. About 15 percent of drivers aren’t insured at all, and many of the rest have policies that meet only state-minimum requirements. Uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverages can make up the difference.
- Protect your car. Physical damage coverages of collision and comprehensive cover your vehicle, unlike property damage liability that only covers other people’s property that you damage. Collision covers your vehicle if it hits, or is hit by, another vehicle or object, regardless of fault. Comprehensive covers your vehicle for situations that are normally not your fault. This includes theft, fire, vandalism, striking an animal and damage sustained from acts of nature like hail or flooding.
- Keep your income in mind. If you are injured in an accident that is your fault, your car insurance won’t make up for any lost income unless you have work loss or similar coverage.
- Consider your life insurance situation. Accidental death benefit pays in the event of an accident that leads to your death or that of another family member.
- Decide if your situation requires the extras.Gap insurance, for example, is needed only if you owe more on a loan than the car is worth. Towing and labor might be a waste on a newer car with warranty and road service plan. And rental car reimbursement might be handy if your family has only one car, but unnecessary if you have a spare car to use if yours is out of commission.
- Shop around. Available limits, discounts and coverage options vary from one car insurance carrier to the next. Decide what types of car insurance you want, find car insurance companies that suit your needs, and then compare quotes to get the best price.
Best car insurance for claims service
If you're lucky, you won't have to file many claims with your car insurance company. But if you do, you want to be treated right. That means getting the help you need during the process, from filing the paperwork to being reimbursed quickly. Here are how top carriers ranked for claims service, based on a survey of 3,700 customers nationwide for Insure.com's Best Insurance Companies rankings. Scores are out of 100.
|Ranking||Company||Auto Claim Score|
|6||The Auto Club Group (ACG) - AAA||91.82|
|12||Auto Club of Southern California||90.00|
|15||CSAA Insurance Group||89.30|
Best car insurance companies for customer service
Of course you want to have an insurance company that is helpful to you even when you aren't in an accident. That means getting help when you have questions about what coverage is best for you, how to add or drop drivers or cars from your policy and matching you up with the most discounts. Here are how companies ranked on customer service, based on a nationwide survey of 3,700 customers:
|Ranking||Company||Customer Service Score|
|5||CSAA Insurance Group||89.25|
|6||The Auto Club Group (ACG) - AAA||88.52|
|7||Auto Club of Southern California||88.49|
Best car insurance for value
Everyone likes a bargain, but you don't want to get poor service just because you're looking for the cheapest car insurance for your budget. Here is how major carriers rank on overall value for the price, based on a survey of 3,700 customers:
|2||Auto Club of Southern California||87.92|
|3||CSAA Insurance Group||87.17|
|5||The Auto Club Group (ACG) - AAA||86.30|