How much coverage do you need? Each state has certain minimum requirements for bodily injury and property damage coverage. It's always worth double-checking the numbers on your state insurance commissioner's website. Most experts recommend purchasing more than the minimum; however, you need at least enough coverage to cover your assets, and purchasing the state minimum is generally only enough to keep you driving legally. If you're on a tight budget, though, that's certainly better than nothing and will keep you out of worse difficulties in the case of an accident.
What type of coverage do you need? Liability coverage is required by law of all car owners, but it covers only expenses related to bodily injury or property damage you do to others. If you want your own vehicle covered in the event of a crash, you'll need collision coverage, and if you want it covered for anything other than a crash -- a nasty hailstorm or vandalism, for instance -- you'll need comprehensive coverage. Another major consideration is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which will cover you if the person who hits you didn't pony up for his or her own policy. If you do not own your car outright, more coverage will be required by your lender.
Is the car insurance company reputable? In recent years a plethora of online only insurance companies have cropped up -- aimed mostly at very high risk drivers who can't find insurance elsewhere. Some are highly-rated companies, and are often subsidiaries of larger corporations that specifically handle high risk drivers. Do your homework, though, if you're dealing with a company that you've not heard much about. Check their Better Business Bureau ratings and be sure they have a solid financial rating as determined by A.M. Best. Also, high-risk drivers should double check the premiums in their state's assigned risk program. Assigned risk is never cheap, but could still be a better deal than a high-risk policy from a less-than-reputable insurer.
Tracking programs may be the future of auto insurance. Pioneered by Progressive Insurance with their Snapshot program, these telemetric devices are to cars as the black box is to an airplane. They track your every driving move, from braking, acceleration, speed and more. Then, the insurance company can use that data to give you discounts based upon good driving habits. At this time, they do not penalize you by raising your rates, but many think that these trackers will someday do just that. Right now, only a few auto insurance companies have car tracking programs, but at least one study estimates that by the year 2020 more than 25 percent of auto insurance revenue will be generated by car tracking-related policies.
Elsewhere in this report:
Best Reviewed Auto Insurance: These are the top car insurance companies, based upon surveys that measure customer satisfaction. We found the top options for every car, person and price range.
Best Auto Insurance Company: There are some car insurance companies that just stand head and shoulders above the rest for claims settlements and customer service. We also found a highly affordable option.
Best Auto Insurance for Military Families: Military families sacrifice a lot for their country, and these are the car insurance companies who go the extra mile to make their lives just a bit easier.
Best Car Insurance for Risky Drivers: You may be considered high risk based upon your driving history or where you live. These companies are willing to work with you even if some others won't.
Our Sources: These are the expert sources and customer reviews we used to determine the best auto insurance. They are ranked in order of their credibility and usefulness.