Root Car Insurance is on the cutting edge of the insurance industry, employing the latest technology with the goal to offer automobile owners the lowest rates. Root claims to help car owners save up to 52% on their car insurance, but of course there’s a catch: it only insures good drivers.
Based in Columbus, Ohio, Root opened for business in the 2010s with $3 million in initial funding. Currently, Root sells car insurance policies in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.
In the near future, Root will also serve Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Washington.
Root Insurance is different from traditional insurance providers. You might find that its differences are perfect for your needs
How does Root Insurance work?
The biggest question people have about this provider is, “how does Root work?”
Root Insurance produces quotes and adjusts existing customers’ rates based on data collected through telematic technology. You’ve probably heard other insurance companies talk about telematics as part of a discount incentive program, but they don’t use it to set your rates, which is what Root does. To put it simply, Telematics is essentially a way to see how your car is behaving using GPS.
To get a quote from Root, you must first download the Root mobile app to your Android or Apple smartphone and carry it with you while you drive. You’ll then do a 2-3 week “test drive” while the app collects and sends data about your driving behavior back to Root.
Using your phone’s GPS, the mobile app collects data on:
- The time of day you drive
- How fast you make turns
- How you accelerate
- How you stop
- How well you follow road rules
After the test-drive period, Root will send you a quote if it likes what it sees.
Root Insurance coverage options and discounts
Root Insurance offers a full lineup of auto coverages, including:
- Bodily injury liability coverage: This coverage pays for medical expenses, lost wages or funeral expenses of other drivers or passengers when you are at fault for an accident.
- Property damage liability: This is to pay for the damage to another driver’s car or property such as fences and mailboxes when you are at fault for an accident.
- Comprehensive coverage: This type of insurance pays for damage to your vehicle not caused in an automobile accident. For example, if a tree limb falls on your car and smashes the hood, your comprehensive coverage will pay for the repair. Comprehensive insurance also pays to replace stolen vehicles.
- Medical payments coverage: This pays the medical expenses of you and your family, regardless of who is at fault for an accident. If another driver is at fault for an accident, their bodily injury coverage will pay your medical expenses first and your medical payments coverage will kick in if costs exceed the other driver’s liability limit.
- Personal injury protection: This pays the medical bills, lost income or funeral costs of you and your passengers, regardless of who is responsible for an accident. Unlike medical payments coverage, many states require PIP insurance.
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage: This coverage will pay your medical expenses if an uninsured or underinsured driver is at fault for an accident. Currently, Washington D.C., Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Vermont, Virgina and West Virginia require UM/UIM insurance.
- Rental car coverage: This pays for a rental car while your vehicle is in the shop following an accident. Root also allows you to choose Lyft credits in lieu of a car rental.
- Roadside assistance: Root includes this coverage in all policies to pay for service fees associated with emergencies such as flat tires, jump starts or dead batteries.
Like traditional car insurance companies, Root allows you to choose the amount of coverage you want and set deductible limits.
Except for reduced rates based on good driving habits, good telematic reports and low mileage, Root does not offer discounts. It believes customers shouldn’t have to work or apply for them. It believes they should happen automatically.
Root Insurance ratings, reviews, customer satisfaction and complaints
Rating services such as Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and AM Best have not produced financial ratings for Root, so there aren’t that many professional Root car insurance reviews. However, The Zebra, a private research company that studies the insurance industry, recently gave Root a “Good” rating for financial strength and an “A” rating for customer satisfaction.
According to an August 2019 Wall Street Journal report, Root recently secured $350 million in funding from Coatue Management and DST Global, elevating its valuation to $3.65 billion. If and when AM Best reviews Root, this should help significantly.
The Better Business Bureau gives Root an A+ rating. Most complaints filed with the BBB against Root center on rate increases without notice or discernible reasons. Other customers point to failures in the Root app, claiming that the technology cannot distinguish when a user is a driver or passenger (though Root refutes this). One Root insurance review claimed her Root driving score drastically dropped after riding in a rideshare vehicle.
Though S&P hasn’t officially given Root a rating, it has taken notice of it. A report by S&P Global states that Root still has a long road ahead of it before it can reach true profitability, but that it is presently “growing like a weed” in many states. For now, S&P says that Root is adequately capitalized and that it has made several smart decisions recently to scale back that will help its growth and longevity in the years ahead. Expect a formal grade in the not-so-distant future from S&P as Root continues to grow.
Lastly, overall Root insurance reviews for the app are good. On the Apple store it has 4.7 out of 5 stars with 37K votes. On Google, 25,276 votes have given Root an average rating 4.⅗.
Though these are officially app reviews, they shouldn’t be taken lightly as Root is an app-based company. All customer feedback about the app is ultimately feedback about the company itself.
Reasons Root Insurance is a great option
Root says, “30% of drivers cause nearly 45% of all accident costs.” At its core, Root is about not penalizing policyholders for other people’s mistakes. When you think about it like that, Root sounds like a no-brainer. If you’re a good driver, you’re treated like one.
Most people are accustomed to discount programs from their car insurance company that help them reduce their rates for getting good grades, taking a defensive driving course or bundling their insurance policies, but Root Insurance does not offer any of these options. It’s just a straightforward auto insurance company that lowers rates for maintaining good driving habits.
With that in mind, Root auto insurance is best suited for people who are comfortable with an app-based insurance company. While Root does staff a call center to field customer calls, they encourage policyholders to communicate through the mobile app, even when filing a claim.
If working towards discounts and communicating through personal customer service is what you look for in a car insurance agency, Root isn’t for you.
Root is not just the new kid on the block. It looks and behaves like no other provider. Because Root’s system determines rates based on driving habits, it is virtually impossible to conduct an apples-to-apples comparison with other car insurance providers. A September 2019 The Zebra report compared how one car owner’s Root quote stacked up against his current car insurance carrier:
|Bodily injury liability limit|
|Property damage liability limit|
|UI/UIM medical limit|
|Uninsured motorist property damage limit|
|Rental car limit|
Frequently asked questions
What information is needed to get a quote from Root Insurance?
To obtain a quote, you must drive your car with the Root app on your smartphone for two or three weeks. After the Root system has obtained enough information to form an opinion about your driving habits, it will send you a quote.
How do I file a claim with Root?
Root Insurance encourages customers to file claims through the Root app. Using the app, you can describe the type of damage sustained and take photos to send to the claims department. Root also offers phone and email support.
Does Root also sell homeowners and renters insurance?
Root Insurance only sells automobile policies.
Will Root insure anyone?
No. If Root does not like the data it receives about your driving habits, it will not insure you.
Does Root know if I’m the passenger?
Yes, Root is able to use machine learning to know when you are driving and when you are not driving. For that matter, it also knows if you are riding a bike or taking the subway. It only ever records data when you yourself are driving.
Can other people be added to my policy?
Yes, provided they live at the same address. Currently, only the main policyholder has to take the test drive.
Does receiving a high score on the test drive mean I will be offered a quote?
Test driving is the main factor, but it’s not the only factor. It’s possible to receive a high score and still not be offered a quote.
How often do policies renew?
Every six months, which means every six months you may receive a lower premium.
Does Root insure teenagers?
Does Root insure motorcyclists?
Not yet, but it hopes to in the near future. You can sign up to be on an email list to be notified when they do, which suggests it’s not too far away.