If you want cheap insurance with a good company, Root Insurance may be a great option.

There are pros and cons to the insurer, just as there are with any company. But Root Insurance has an interesting way of doing things, and if you’re a good driver (more on that soon), it may be a good choice for you.

We’ll dig into the roots of Root momentarily, but first, here are some highlights worth reading:

Key Highlights
  • Root Insurance boasts low premiums. The company says that it will generally save customers up to 52% off of a typical insurance policy.
  • Root Insurance has been around since 2015. So, it’s a relatively new company compared to competitors but is publicly traded on Nasdaq.
  • Root recently announced it is now licensed to sell auto insurance in 48 states and the District of Columbia and is working on licenses for Florida and Massachusetts.
  • Root strives to help customers drive responsibility. It offers policyholders free Lyft rides on holidays known for heavy drinking, such as St. Patrick’s Day, Independence Day and New Year’s Eve.
  • To keep premiums at rock bottom, Root only insures drivers they deem as low risk.

Root auto insurance coverage options

Root offers the typical types of car insurance you would expect to get from a reputable, solid insurance company.

What Root auto insurance covers

For instance, you can get liability coverage. That covers injuries and damage to other people and property. So, if you somehow careen through a restaurant, sending food flying and patrons fleeing, your insurance will pay any hospital bills and that gaping car-sized hole in the wall.

With Root’s MedPay medical payments coverage, if you or your family are injured in an accident, regardless of fault, you’ll have help paying covered medical expenses. You can also buy liability and collision and comprehensive car insurance.

If you careen through a restaurant (don’t worry; nobody was seriously injured in our hypothetical example), Root will not only pay for the damages to the restaurant and hospital bills for other people, it will pay to fix your car and for any medical care that you receive.

With its uninsured motorist property damage and uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage, you’ll be covered even if someone without insurance hits you.

It also provides insurance such as rental coverage. While you’re waiting for your car to be removed from the restaurant’s dining room and kitchen, Root will pay for a rental car. They’ll also offer you the option of being reimbursed with rideshares like Lyft.

A value-added bonus: Root includes roadside assistance with every policy and is available right from the Root app.

What does Root car insurance not cover?

While Root offers typical types of car insurance, they don’t insure every type of vehicle. There is no motorcycle insurance or insurance for all-terrain vehicles, for instance.

They also don’t have gap insurance, which is worth considering. Gap insurance is important for some situations, like if you total your car but owe more on the car than the insurance company will pay you for it.

If you total your car and still owe $10,000, but the car is worth $7,000, gap insurance would pay that extra $3,000 to your lender. Root doesn’t currently offer that.

Root car insurance discounts

Root has a motto of “savings made simple,” which doesn’t offer the buffet of discounts many insurers do because it ensures you the lowest prices possible from the get-go.

Root Insurance asserts that it isn’t skimpy on the discounts because you’re already getting the cheapest coverage you possibly can by being a good driver, and any discount you qualify for is built-in immediately to your quote.

If you continue to prove that you’re a good driver, Root lowers your premium as low as it can go, so there’s no need for additional discounts.

It doesn’t base your insurance on whether your kid gets A’s or F’s in school. It bases on whether your kid is a good driver. This approach may save you time and hassle in the long run.

Many insurance companies base your insurance premium, at least in part, on your credit score. If you have low credit, you’ll have a higher premium. Root does that, too, but they’ve made it a mission to eliminate credit-based scoring by 2025.

Root, as a general rule, gives you a steep discount for being an excellent driver.

If you bundle your car insurance with home insurance through Root, you can lower your car insurance (and homeowners insurance) even further.

And while it isn’t quite a discount but a perk, it’s worth noting that Root includes roadside assistance with every policy (although in California, you have to pay for it separately).

Any service under $100 is covered for vehicles, and you get up to three incidents per six-month policy term. They also will pay you a cash bonus (anywhere from $10 to $100, depending on the state) if you refer friends to Root.

Where is Root insurance available?

Root recently announced it is now licensed in 48 states and the District of Columbia to sell Root car insurance. The only states Root car insurance is not available are Florida and Massachusetts and Root says they are working to get licensed in those states.

Root financial stability ratings

It’s essential to feel comfortable that an insurance company is financially solvent and will not collapse and be unable to pay its claims. That’s why companies like A.M. Best, S&P and Moody’s rate insurance companies for their financial strength. Unfortunately, the companies don’t yet have ratings for Root Insurance.

It is important to recognize that not having ratings yet is to be expected. The company is still young.

An S&P report from 2019 characterized the company this way: Like any startup, Root Inc. still faces a challenging road ahead in terms of building scale and reaching profitability… But Root Inc. appears to be adequately capitalized.

Its policies seem to be gaining traction. It has embarked on several strategic initiatives that should benefit the company.

Root customer reviews and complaints

Root, as noted, is pretty new on the scene, and it isn’t yet national and so it doesn’t have any ratings from J.D. Power, the famed marketing research firm that many companies mention in their TV commercials when they have ratings worth bragging about.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), which collects complaints from state insurance departments, gave Root a complaint index score of 2.61 for its 2019 car insurance policies.

A score of 1 is average, which means Root’s car insurance has a little more than 2.5 times more complaints than the national average.

Its complaint index score is even higher when you look at the entire company—its other policies it sells, like homeowner’s insurance. The score is 5.36.

So, we looked up some customer reviews on the Better Business Bureau to take our search a step further. Root gets an A+ rating on BBB as a BBB-accredited business, but the BBB doesn’t include the complaints left on the site in their scoring for various reasons.

We reviewed the complaints left by policyholders and found that many of them had to do with billing disputes where a policyholder felt they were unfairly billed for more than one month. Others related to Root dropping their coverage due to what Root perceived as poor driving habits.

Root responded directly to every complaint on the BBB website.

Root car insurance claims

It takes three minutes to file a claim on the app, according to Root. You can also call in your claim 24/7, but you won’t be able to talk to a human at all hours, just business hours (from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST).

As noted earlier, there is no J.D. Powers Claim Satisfaction rating yet.

Root website and apps

As you can imagine, the Root website and app does it all with insurance. We live in a digital world, and Root is very much planted in it.

Your insurance card is on the app (Root will also mail you a paper card). You file claims through the app or website, and you can refer friends to Root (and get a cash bonus if they sign up), and you can request roadside assistance through the app.

Granted, many insurance companies have excellent user-friendly apps and websites. Still, we think Root’s are particularly easy to navigate, easy to read and take a simplistic, no-nonsense approach we appreciate.

Who is Root car insurance good for?

Root car insurance may be ideal for:

  • Somebody who is very comfortable using the digital world.
  • Somebody determined to get a seriously low insurance premium without jumping through hoops for discounts.
  • Somebody who is an excellent driver. If you brake hard, or you’re on a first-name basis with some highway patrol officers and your friends break into a cold sweat when you suggest you drive them somewhere, you’ll want to find a different insurer.

The verdict: Is Root worth it?

Root insurance customer complaint ratings might make some people suspicious. Still, it may be worth giving Root Insurance a shot if you’re looking for low premiums and don’t mind having your insurance policy contingent on how well you drive.

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Contributing Researcher

Geoff Williams is a freelance journalist and author in Loveland, Ohio. He has been writing about insurance and personal finance since the mid-2000s. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Life magazine, Ladies’ Home Journal, The Washington Post, CNNMoney, Entrepreneur, Forbes.com and U.S. News & World Report.