Insurance is one of the most competitive markets in the country, and in any given area you will find many auto insurance companies ready to give you their business. While that may seem intimidating, it is actually great for customers. More companies means better pricing, and the freedom to make sure you are going to have a great consumer experience. There are a few things you should consider first however when deciding on the best car insurance policy.
1. Optimizing Your Coverage
When shopping for auto insurance, the company you want is the one that is going to afford you the most coverage for the cheapest price. That is the first and most important factor to consider. To achieve this, you should be familiar with the different components of car insurance such as bodily injury liability, property damage, uninsured motorist, comprehensive and collision and personal injury protection. Your coverage in each component will play a part in the final price. Your coverage will also not mean much if it's a giant pain to file a claim. Go to your state's Department of Insurance website and look at complaint ratios. This can give you an idea of how well they handle claims. You can find similar data at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
2. Shopping Around
Depending where you live, you can have an upwards of over 30 auto insurance companies at your disposal; some the largest in the country, and some just local. Never assume that just because a company is large and well known that it will be the best or cheapest. You should be getting quotes from no less than three companies any time you shop. This should include quotes from big national insurers as well as some local ones. You can expedite the search by using Google. If you live in Massachusetts for example, you can start by searching "best cheap car insurance in Massachusetts".
Not every company offers the same level of protection, or at the same price. Similarly, not every company is suited for every driver either. For example, in Georgia, we found Allstate only increased rates by 36% and State Farm by 21% after a driver was convicted of a DUI. These types of variations can exist for a host of driving records. Some companies will be more forgiving if you've had an accident in the past. This is why we recommend looking at no less than three companies. The more you do, the more likely you will be to get a great price for your auto insurance.
3. The Customer Experience
If you are fortunate enough to find many companies giving you lots of coverage at a great price, you want to make sure they are also giving you a rewarding customer experience. The easiest way to access that information is by simply asking people you know, such as friends and family. If they are in your area, they most likely have one of the companies you are considering. They may be able to tell you about an experience they've had filing a claim. Was it simple or was it a hassle? If you want more assurances than from just word of mouth, you can also check out a company's track record by visiting J.D. Power and A.M. Best. They can show you how a company ranks against other competitors for customer satisfaction, the claims process, appraisal process, even their rental car process. We conducted our own study ranking a large array of insurers, which you can find here.
Always be weary of online message boards and comments. Don't rely on them as an unbiased source. They aren't always inductive of the average experience. People are more motivated to comment or leave a review if they've had a bad experience.