Bad auto insurance comes in many forms. With bad car insurance, premiums are higher than they should be, or the company offers low premiums but minimal coverage. Some car insurance companies have poor customer service and don’t effectively communicate the status of your auto insurance claim. Others require you to use only repair shops that they approve of, and those shops can be inconvenient to access, forcing you to travel across town for repairs or wait weeks for an appointment. Still other auto insurance companies don’t have a comprehensive network of adjusters, so you have to wait longer for your claim to be processed so you can get the repairs you need. In a worst-case scenario, a car insurance company may not have the financial resources to pay claims, leaving its customers high and dry.
Non-owner car insurance is just what it sounds like. It’s insurance that covers the driver instead of the car. That is, if you don’t own a car, but frequently drive a friend’s car, rental cars, work cars, or use a car-sharing service, non-owner insurance covers your liability in the event of an accident. It can cover your liability for medical costs and property damage. In some states, non-owner car insurance can also help you regain your license after it’s been suspended. It can also lower car insurance rates if you buy a car later since there won’t be an uninsured period on your record. |
Let's use the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy as an example to illustrate the differences between collision and comprehensive. Within that storm, let's consider two events that might have happened: 1) a heavy tree branch fell on your car, or 2) you swerved to avoid a falling tree branch and wound up crashing into a tree. In the first event, you had no control over when or why a tree branch would fall on your car. This kind of accident would get reimbursed under your comprehensive policy. In the second situation, you were driving the car and ultimately swerved into the tree, which makes it a collision, and collision insurance therefore pays for the damages. Events like the hypothetical ones stated above are why it's important to differentiate between the two types of coverage.
Auto insurance is financial protection, and not just for the investment you made when you bought your car. After a really serious accident, bills for damage and injuries can easily reach into hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you happen to cause such a wreck, the victims could sue you. In the worst case scenario, assets such as your savings and home could be seized.
Each insurance company evaluates personal factors in its own way, and they keep their methods as hidden as possible. So we can’t tell you which company puts high value in your occupation or emphasizes a clean driving history more than others. But to help you get going, we can show you a car insurance rate comparison for the same hypothetical driver and car, using average rates from across the country.
USAA: USAA is the best car insurance company we found. Customers report that they love USAA for its customer service, ease of filing a claim, and frequent updates on claim status. USAA customers also report that USAA is a good value, and USAA’s average annual rates are some of the lowest in the business. The only downside we could find to USAA is that its insurance products are only available to veterans, members of the military, and their immediate families, so not everyone will be able to work with the top-ranked insurance company.
There is a case to be made for getting just comprehensive and not collision insurance, even if your car is not valuable. Comprehensive covers you for a lot more perils than does collision--including, most importantly, against theft. Regardless of the value of your car, having it stolen is a major inconvenience. Even if your car is worth only $2,000 at the time of the theft, and your insurer gives you $1,500, that sum would go a long way in buying yourself a new vehicle. As we discuss in more detail below, comprehensive insurance generally costs no more than $200 per year, so a $1,500 reimbursement would make the coverage valuable.
Another good way to get the cheapest auto insurance rates is to use as many car insurance discounts as you can. Car insurance companies offer many discounts, including good student discounts, paperless billing discounts, discounts for multiple policies, and discounts for going a certain period of time without making a claim. Some also offer discounts for things like having a tracker in your car. Read more about the car insurance discounts that can help you get the cheapest 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.
While all car insurance companies offer a similar product, they differ in how they deliver it. Some car insurance companies are basically self-service, allowing you to shop for and choose a policy completely online. Others use local agents who can meet with you and talk you through the process of buying a policy and personally handle any claims you have. Some companies use a mix of the two. Make sure you find a company that has the type of service you want.
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