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National insurers best best for drives with poor records

Risky drivers may have the best luck with large companies, and State Farm certainly fits the bill: It's the biggest car insurer in the nation with more than 18 percent of the market, according to Its size means State Farm can offer a very wide variety of policies and discounts. Those looking for a more personal car-insurance experience shouldn't write off State Farm because it's huge, though -- the company has a large network of agents nationwide for face-to-face service.

It also fares better in customer-satisfaction surveys than many of its large competitors, with policyholders reporting solid experiences with claims. State Farm has strong financial ratings, too. On the downside, customers say you may pay a bit more for your policy than with other major insurers. Others say the quality of your agent can make or break the State Farm experience.

Progressive offers another solid option for risky drivers. It also maintains an extensive network of local agents and offers a wide range of plans and discounts. Financial ratings are solid. Progressive touts its "concierge level" claims service, although customers report decidedly mixed feelings about their experiences. Some policyholders also complain that their rates suddenly shot up without warning.

One more large company worth a look is GEICO. Like State Farm and Progressive, GEICO is big enough to offer enough flexible plans to cover all types of drivers, and it has solid financial ratings. However, like Progressive, the company receives mixed reviews for claims service and complaints about sudden rate hikes. GEICO also doesn't offer many local agents.

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