In a best-case scenario, you’ll never have to use your car insurance. After all, making a claim on your auto insurance means you’ve suffered some sort of loss, and no one wants that. However, going through life without ever having a fender bender or other damage to your car is unlikely. In some cases, you’ll be making a car insurance claim after a harrowing experience, like a serious accident. After going through something like that, you want to be sure your insurance company isn’t going to make things worse.

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Collision and comprehensive insurance are two optional types of auto insurance where your insurer pays for repairs to your vehicle. While there are other optional auto insurance coverages, liability, comprehensive, and collision are three of the most common. These coverages work hand-in-hand to repair or replace most of the damages to your car. It's important to know the difference, and make sure you're adequately covered.
Comprehensive car insurance covers damages from an "act of God," or events that are not caused by a car driving into something else. An "act of God" can include things like damage from a heavy tree branch falling on your car. Since you have no control over when or why a tree branch would fall on your car, this kind of accident would be covered under your comprehensive policy.
For some, the best coverage is the cheapest car insurance policy that makes them able to legally drive on the road. For others, the best coverage is the type that covers the full cost of repairs on your vehicle when you file a claim. The only way to be certain you are fully protected is to purchase both comprehensive coverage and collision coverage. Each coverage has its own job to do.
Next, take a good hard look at your driving record and credit report, and clean both up if they’re not in good shape. Moving violations, citations for driving under the influence, accidents, and a low credit score all tell car insurance companies you’re at higher risk of being in an accident, making a claim, and costing them money. Some car insurance companies will give you a discount if you can prove you’re a safe driver by installing a tracking device in your car, which can lead to lower rates over time (however, if the tracker shows you routinely drive in an unsafe manner, your rates might go up). A few years without a citation or an accident, as well as a steadily improving credit score, can help you save on car insurance.
We surveyed 2,799 consumers who filed a car insurance claim in the last five years, asking questions about their car insurance company. These questions covered satisfaction with the ease of filing a claim, customer service, claim status communication, claim resolution, and overall value. We also asked whether they’d recommend the company and if they planned to renew their policy. We used their responses to build our Best Car Insurance Companies ranking.
The amount of coverage required by law varies from state to state. If you’re a cautious person, you might opt for a more expensive policy with better coverage. If you have a lot of assets, experts recommend that you get enough liability coverage to protect them; otherwise, the other party involved in an accident could sue and attempt to collect on those assets.
These are on the high side, but there are still instances in which they won’t be enough to fully cover you. For example, if you accidentally hit a luxury car, replacing it could easily cost more than the $25,000 legal minimum for property damage coverage. If the other driver is injured, their medical bills could also exceed the $30,000 bodily injury minimum fairly easily. In each case, you’d be responsible for making up the difference yourself.
Collision insurance is a coverage that helps pay to repair or replace your car if it's damaged in an accident with another vehicle or object, such as a fence or a tree. If you're leasing or financing your car, collision coverage is typically required by the lender. If your car is paid off, collision is an optional coverage on your car insurance policy.
State legislators set limits on how much a company can increase your rates after a crash. Our hypothetical accident resulted in only $2,000 worth of damage. That caused average annual rates to spike by $1,000 or more in some states, while others jumped by far less. One thing’s for sure: Your rates will definitely increase after an at-fault accident, so be sure to compare car insurance rates if you have one on record.
Gap insurance is insurance that may be required if you lease or finance a car. Gap insurance covers the difference between what your car is worth and what you owe on your auto loan should your car be a total loss in an incident. For example, let’s say you have a car loan with a balance of $20,000, but your car is only worth $15,000. If it’s totaled in an accident, your insurance will only pay out $15,000 and you will owe $5,000 to settle your loan. If you have gap insurance, that policy will pay the $5,000 to settle your loan balance.
USAA maintains a strong financial standing and ranked the highest of our top picks with Consumer Reports and J.D. Power. This means you won’t have to worry about settling up financially with the company, and you’ll likely have a decent time maneuvering through its claims process. If you or anyone in your immediate family is an active or retired service member, you should definitely give USAA a call and get a quote.
State Farm: State Farm is the third-best car insurance company, though its overall score is very close to second-place Travelers. State Farm gets high marks from its customers for ease of filing a claim, and many State Farm customers say they're likely to renew their policy with the company. State Farm customers report being satisfied with the value they get from the company, and it’s no wonder they say that: State Farm rates are, on average, lower than most of the competition.
To help you figure out if you should purchase collision coverage, you should estimate the approximate value of your vehicle. While there are a number of online resources that can help with this, including Kelley Blue Book, we recommend you speak with a State Farm® agent. In addition to helping you determine the value of your vehicle, our agents can tell you how much extra you'd pay to add collision coverage.
Liability auto insurance protects you from that worst case scenario by providing a cushion between your assets and the amount you’re on the hook for. For this reason, choosing the right auto liability limits is the most important part of your car insurance quote comparison. NerdWallet typically recommends having at least as much liability coverage as your net worth.
Regardless of the type of car you drive or where you drive it, by owning and operating a vehicle and driving it on public roads, your car is vulnerable to all types of losses and damages, both to yourself and to others on the road and their property. Though you’re probably most concerned with accidents, your vehicle can also be damaged by acts of weather such as falling tree limbs or monster-sized hail, vandalism or even invaded by creepy crawlers, especially if you park outside or on the street.
Farmers has the fifth-largest market share in Texas at 8.2%. According to J.D. Power, Texans are more impressed with their Farmers claims experiences than they are with Allstate’s. Unfortunately, Consumer Reports readers expressed a bit more annoyance with the timeliness of their payments when comparing Farmers to State Farm and Allstate. Farmers’ financial strength is also a couple of notches lower than the rest. This doesn’t mean that the company's about to go bankrupt — it’s just the difference between “quite stable” and “completely rock-solid.”
Farmers has the fifth-largest market share in Texas at 8.2%. According to J.D. Power, Texans are more impressed with their Farmers claims experiences than they are with Allstate’s. Unfortunately, Consumer Reports readers expressed a bit more annoyance with the timeliness of their payments when comparing Farmers to State Farm and Allstate. Farmers’ financial strength is also a couple of notches lower than the rest. This doesn’t mean that the company's about to go bankrupt — it’s just the difference between “quite stable” and “completely rock-solid.”
Collision coverage is probably the most important coverage you need to have in order to protect your vehicle against physical damage. It is not difficult to accidentally hit something when driving. Somebody is always at fault, and that someone could be you. Some of the most significant damage to your vehicle can come from a collision with another vehicle, tree, pole or guardrail. In order to purchase collision coverage, you’ll need to purchase basic coverage as well. The higher your deductible (the amount you pay if you do get into a collision), the lower your monthly payments will often be — and this can be the best way to get the coverage you need and the savings you deserve at the same time.

Personal injury or bodily injury protection, which is often a part of full coverage car insurance, covers medical costs for you, your passengers, or other people injured in an accident. This type of coverage is required by most states, but keep in mind that the legal requirement may be too low for real world application. As medical costs soar, a policy that only pays out $30,000 is not likely to be enough, and you will be responsible for any difference between what your policy pays and what the actual medical costs are. It’s tempting to skimp on this coverage, but that can be a costly mistake.

1The RightTrack® discount applies only to the base coverages on the participating vehicle, which may include Bodily Injury, Property Damage, Comprehensive, Collision, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payments, Uninsured Motorist, and Underinsured Motorist (subject to state availability). Initial discount may vary by state and is replaced with a final discount upon completion of a review period. Not available in all states. Coverage provided and underwritten by Liberty Mutual Insurance and its affiliates, 175 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116. ©2017 Liberty Mutual Insurance.
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