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Car insurance advertisements often make big claims, but will the companies behind them pay your claim if you have a traffic accident? Auto insurance carrier reviews on online forums are great for anecdotal opinions, but finding the best car insurance companies requires in-depth data gathering and analysis. For the best auto insurance reviews, we turn to industry experts, AM Best, J.D. Power and Associates and The Zebra.

The best car insurance companies

The Zebra based its 2019 best auto insurance reviews on an exhaustive 8-year study of more than 400 companies, offering over 60 million car insurance rates, in all U.S. zip codes. They also relied on the analysis of J.D. Power and the customer complaint scores of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to compile a list of 2019’s most reliable, financially stable and affordable car insurance carriers. All that, coupled with the financial ratings of AM Best, will help you dive into the market’s strengths and weaknesses to find a company that has the best products, prices and services for you.

1. State Farm

Customer satisfaction rating 3 out of 5
Claims service rating 3 out of 5
Settlement rating 3 out of 5
Financial strength rating A++ (Superior)
Financial size $2 billion or more
NAIC customer complaint score Below average
Average 6-month premium $779
Cost vs. average +97

According to The Zebra, State Farm insures about 18% of the automobiles in the United States. While State Farm policyholders often pay higher premiums than other car owners do, they enjoy the benefits of having a dedicated agent, something many insurance companies no longer provide. State Farm customers can choose among coverage packages that travelers often seek such as emergency roadside service, travel expense coverage and rental car coverage.

State Farm offers a full range of discounts, including:

  • Good student and student away at school discounts
  • Multi-vehicle and multi-policy discounts
  • Defensive driving course, good driving and safe driver discounts
  • Passive retrains and anti-theft system discounts

State Farm offers an array of financial products, including:

  • Home, condominium, renters and farm and ranch insurance
  • Universal life, whole life and term life insurance
  • Supplemental Medicare, individual medical and supplemental health insurance
  • Long- and short-term disability insurance
  • Personal and business insurance

2. Geico

Customer satisfaction rating 3 out of 5
Claims service rating 3 out of 5
Settlement rating 3 out of 5
Financial strength rating A++ (Superior)
Financial size $2 billion or more
NAIC customer complaint score Good
Average 6-month premium $580
Cost vs. average -102


Compared with State Farm
, Geico offers substantially lower premiums, even for people with poor credit scores, and commands about 13% of the U.S. auto insurance market. Geico’s lower rates also apply to drivers with a history of at-fault accidents and young drivers, making it a great pick for folks on a tight budget.

On the discount front, Geico stacks up well against its competitors, offering:

  • Air bag, anti-lock brakes and anti-theft device discounts
  • Driver education and seat belt use discounts
  • Good student and good driver discounts
  • Multi-policy and multi-vehicle discounts
  • Federal employee and military discounts

And for consumers with other types of property to protect, Geico also offers:

  • ATV, boat and RV insurance
  • Homeowners, renters, condominium, landlord, mobile home and flood insurance
  • Life, pet, travel and umbrella insurance
  • Business, professional liability and malpractice insurance

3. Progressive

Customer satisfaction rating 3 out of 5
Claims service rating 3 out of 5
Settlement rating 3 out of 5
Financial strength rating A+ (Superior)
Financial size $2 billion or more
NAIC customer complaint score Average
Average 6-month premium $771
Cost vs. average +89

Progressive charges rates virtually equal to State Farm’s but cannot compete with Geico’s lower premiums. Compared with Geico, Progressive charges much higher premiums for drivers with poor credit, young drivers and motorists with a history of at-fault accidents.

Progressive has many discount programs, some that reward conducting business online, along with:

  • Good student and teen driver discounts
  • Paperless documents, sign online and online quote discounts
  • Multi-policy and multi-vehicle discounts
  • Anti-theft device discounts
  • Defensive driver discounts
  • Homeowner discounts
  • Pay-in-full and automatic-pay discounts

For one-stop insurance shoppers, Progressive also offers:

  • Homeowners, renters, condominium and mobile home insurance
  • Motorcycle, RV, boat, classic car, snowmobile, Segway and golf cart insurance
  • Electronic device, identity theft and pet insurance
  • Health, life, travel and wedding insurance

4. Allstate

Customer satisfaction rating 3 out of 5
Claims service rating 3 out of 5
Settlement rating 3 out of 5
Financial strength rating A+ (Superior)
Financial size $2 billion or more
NAIC customer complaint score Good
Average 6-month premium $947
Cost vs. average +265

Allstate’s premium prices make its coverage prohibitive for some budget auto insurance shoppers. However, compared with Progressive, Allstate offers better prices for people with credit problems and for teenage drivers.

Allstate’s roadside assistance services provide emergency help such as fuel delivery, towing, jump starts and tire changes. The program offers two levels of support: three rescues per year for around $80 or five for $140. Price limits apply to all services and some services are not available in all areas. Allstate’s 30-minute on-time arrival guarantee offers discounts on your next year’s membership if a service provider is late.

Allstate also offers loads of discounts to help its customers lower their premium rates, including:

  • Good student and student away from home discounts
  • Multi-policy discounts
  • Anti-theft, anti-lock brake system and safe driving club discounts
  • Diver training, good diver and defensive driver discounts
  • New vehicle and green vehicle discounts
  • Early signing and paperless documents discounts

Allstate’s product line almost mirrors Progressive’s, with:

  • Boat, snowmobile and ATV insurance
  • Condominium, homeowners and renters insurance
  • Life and health insurance

5. USAA

Customer satisfaction rating 5 out of 5
Claims service rating 5 out of 5
Settlement rating 5 out of 5
Financial strength rating A++ (Superior)
Financial size $2 billion or more
NAIC customer complaint score Average
Average 6-month premium $444
Cost vs. average -238

USAA has one major drawback; it only offers its financial services to military members and their families. If you are a member of the military, you cannot beat USAA’s superior service and pricing. USAA’s premiums typically are lower than others among the best auto insurance reviews, even for divers with poor credit or a history of at-fault accidents, as well as teen and young adult drivers.

Even with such low premiums, USAA offers an impressive selection of discounts, including:

  • Driver training, defensive driver training and good student discounts
  • Multi-policy and multi-vehicle discounts
  • Family and length of membership discounts
  • New vehicle and vehicle in storage discounts

USAA offers most, if not all, the financial products a military family needs, including:

  • Homeowners, mobile home, condominium and renter’s insurance
  • Life, health, dental and vision insurance
  • Boat, RV, motorcycle and travel trailer insurance
  • CDs, credit cards, mortgages and auto loans
  • Checking and savings accounts
  • Mutual funds, bonds and IRAs
  • 529 college savings accounts and annuities

What to look for when shopping for car insurance

Shopping for car insurance can seem daunting, especially for first-time car buyers. Avoid mistakes and get the best bang for you insurance buck by following the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ shopping tips:

  1. Call or visit the website of your state’s insurance department to find out what type of insurance the law requires. Most states require at least liability insurance, with minimum coverage levels for bodily injury and property damage.
  2. Read auto insurance carrier reviews and ask friends and family members to recommendation companies and agents.
  3. Request quotes from several companies and carefully compare the results. Pay attention to the details, including deductibles, payment options, discounts and included and excluded services.
  4. Narrow down your options, then check with your state’s insurance department to make sure the company you choose is properly licensed.
  5. Ask insurance agents about details of the coverage. Will a history of speeding tickets affect your premium? Does the company consider credit history to determine rates? Will the coverage protect all drivers in your household? Does the policy cover rental cars when you travel?
  6. Always pay your premium on time, otherwise your coverage could lapse. Some insurers offer direct withdrawal from your checking account, which can safeguard against lost coverage.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best car insurance company?

Choosing car insurance is a subjective process. When shopping for car insurance, look for a company that is financially strong and capable of providing the best coverage, service and value in your price range.

Do car insurance companies offer military discounts?

Some car insurance companies offer military discounts and some do not. USAA caters exclusively to military personnel and their families, offering great car insurance rates and a host of financial products and services.

Which company offers the lowest auto insurance premiums for teenagers and young adults?

Of the major car insurance companies, Geico and USAA offer some of the lowest premium rates for young drivers.