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Choosing between small and large insurance companies

Updated Apr 06, 2023

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When it comes to car insurance companies, drivers have their pick of options. There are hundreds of car insurance companies out there to choose from. Some of these companies are massive, with thousands of agents that operate primarily out of a call center. Other companies are small independent agencies with only a handful of people working in a local office. Whether you decide to insure with a small car insurance company or a large car insurance company is typically a personal preference, but Bankrate has broken down the pros and cons of each to help you find the insurer that’s perfect for you.

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Insurance Disclosure, LLC is a licensed insurance producer (NPN: 19966249). services are only available in states where it is licensed. may not offer insurance coverage in all states or scenarios. All insurance products are governed by the terms in the applicable insurance policy, and all related decisions (such as approval for coverage, premiums, commissions and fees) and policy obligations are the sole responsibility of the underwriting insurer. The information on this site does not modify any insurance policy terms in any way.

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Small vs. large insurance companies

Although there are no rules that define small and large insurance companies, small car insurance companies are usually the regional or local offices you find in your community. Large car insurance companies, on the other hand, advertise and write policies on a national level. A small company is likely only open during regular business hours, while a large company may be open 24/7 with the help of regional call centers. Large, call center-driven insurance companies may also have local offices to help customers who prefer to do business in person, but those local offices are usually limited in number. Geico is an example of a large insurance company with both call centers and limited local offices.

Top 10 largest insurance companies by market share

When comparing multiple quotes from different insurance companies, many drivers find it easier to start with the largest companies as they typically offer easily-accessible online quotes. The top 10 largest car insurance companies based on market share represent the majority of drivers in the U.S. To provide a holistic view of these carriers, we also included third-party scores issued in the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study, as well as our proprietary Bankrate Scores, which range from 0.0 to 5.0.

Company Bankrate Score J.D. Power score Average annual minimum coverage premium Average annual full coverage premium Market share
State Farm 4.2 882/1,000 $464 $1,480 17%
Progressive 4.2 861/1,000 $553 $1,642 14%
Geico 4.4 874/1,000 $373 $1,353 14%
Allstate 3.8 889/1,000 $545 $2,630 11%
USAA* 4.3 890/1,000 $371 $1,361 6%
Liberty Mutual 4.1 870/1,000 Rates not available Rates not available 5%
Farmers 3.8 882/1,000 $550 $1,524 5%
Travelers 4.0 854/1,000 $549 $1,383 2%
American Family 3.8 874/1,000 $592 $1,627 2%
Nationwide 3.9 868/1,000 $477 $1,447 2%

*USAA is not officially ranked by J.D. Power due to eligibility restrictions

Pros and cons of a small insurance company

Pros of a small insurance company

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    Service may be more personalized with a local agent

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    Could have a shorter hold time when calling your local agency vs. a regional contact center

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    Since the agent presumably lives in your area, they may be more in-tune with your local market

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    If the agency is a small business, you could be supporting your local economy by insuring with a neighborhood agent

Cons of a small insurance company

  • May be limited to standard business hours if you need help with your policy or have to file a claim

  • Local company may not have the same robust digital tools are a larger carrier

  • Might not have as much access to reinsurance as a larger company, which could make it less financially stable

  • May not offer as many lines of insurance as a larger insurance company

A small insurance company may be right for you if…

  • You prefer to handle your insurance needs one-on-one with an agent
  • You want to stimulate your local economy by supporting a small business
  • You don’t mind being limited to standard business hours for customer service and claims filing 

Pros and cons of a large insurance company

Pros of a large insurance company

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    Might have more self-service options, like a mobile app and online policy portal that allows policyholders to manage their policies

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    Typically has expanded, or even 24/7, customer service hours

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    Might be able to purchase multiple lines of insurance with the same company

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    Could be more financially stable or better staffed to handle widespread claims after a natural disaster

Cons of a large insurance company

  • Likely will deal with a different agent each time you call, and the agent may be located across the country (or in a different country)

  • Potential for long hold times

  • May be transferred from one department to the next if you need to handle more than one type of policy

  • Could be difficult to reach a supervisor or manager if an issue needs to be resolved

A large insurance company may be right for you if…

  • You think you will need to get in touch with your agent outside of standard business hours
  • You want to purchase another type of policy alongside your auto insurance that is not be available with a smaller company 
  • You want the peace of mind of being insured with a well-known household name

Should I choose a small or large insurance company?

Instead of focusing on the size of a company, the best approach is likely to evaluate what is most important to you when making your decision. Once you know what works best for your lifestyle and driving needs, then you can narrow down your options.

For example, if strong customer service is your top priority, then choosing a carrier with high customer service ratings with J.D. Power might be the way to go. However, J.D. Power does not usually include small car insurance carriers in its studies, so you may need to speak with friends or family insured with the small company you’re interested in to get a feel for the customer experience.

Other aspects to consider include financial strength ratings, such as those through AM Best and S&P, which rate a carrier’s historical ability to payout claims. Small companies aren’t inherently financially unstable, but you may want to take special care to review their financial strength ratings. Additionally, some small companies are rated by firms other than AM Best and S&P (Demotech, for example) which could be helpful to know as you research.

If digital tools are a priority for you, it may be worth noting that many large car insurance carriers offer mobile apps and online policy portals as self-service options. You might find that smaller companies lack these benefits. On the flip side, some large companies do have regional offices, but many operate solely over the phone and online, which could be problematic if you prefer an in-person experience.

Overall, selecting the right carrier for your insurance needs likely involves narrowing down your priorities and choosing a carrier that can meet them while also offering you a rate within your budget.

Frequently asked questions


Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2023 rates for ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Rates are weighted based on the population density in each geographic region. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record, good credit and the following full coverage limits:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $50,000 property damage liability per accident
  • $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
  • $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
  • $500 collision deductible
  • $500 comprehensive deductible

To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverage that meets each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2021 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually. 

These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes. 

Bankrate Score

Our 2023 Bankrate Score considers variables our insurance editorial team determined impacts policyholders’ experiences with an insurance company. These rating factors include a robust assessment of each company’s product availability, financial strength ratings, online capabilities and customer and claims support accessibility. Each factor was added to a category, and these categories were weighted in a tiered approach to analyze how companies perform in key customer-impacting categories. 

Like our previous Bankrate Scores, each category was assigned a metric to determine performance, and the weighted sum adds up to a company’s total Bankrate Score — out of 5 points. This year, our 2023 scoring model provides a more comprehensive view, indicating when companies excel across several key areas and better highlighting where they fall short.

  • Tier 1 (Cost & ratings): To determine how well auto and home insurance companies satisfy these priorities, 2023 quoted premiums from Quadrant Information Services (if available), as well as any of the latest third-party agency ratings from J.D. Power, AM Best and the NAIC, were analyzed.
  • Tier 2 (Coverage & savings): We assessed companies’ coverage options and availability to help policyholders find a provider that balances cost with coverage. Additionally, we evaluated each company’s discount options listed on its website.
  • Tier 3 (Support): To encompass the many ways an auto insurance company can support policyholders, we analyzed avenues of customer accessibility along with community support. This analysis incorporated additional financial strength ratings from S&P and Moody’s and factored a company’s corporate sustainability efforts.
Written by
Carol Pope
Former Writer, Insurance

Carol Pope is a former insurance writer for Bankrate and prior to joining the team, she spent 12 years as an auto insurance agent. During this time, she sold, serviced and underwrote auto insurance for people across the country. She also has experience selling supplement coverage such as umbrella insurance.

Edited by Editor, Insurance