If other auto insurers won't accept you because you've had wrecks or tickets, experts say you might try State Farm. It's the biggest auto insurer in the U.S. and Canada, and although it doesn't offer the lowest prices, reviews say State Farm is more likely to take a chance on a higher-risk driver than a top-rated, small car-insurance company like Amica Mutual. Unlike Amica and a lot of other insurers, State Farm still works through local agents -- and reviews say some agents are better than others. State Farm gets its share of complaints about poor customer service and wrongfully denied claims. However, it gets better reviews than other mega-insurers like Allstate.
J.D. Power and Associates offers easy-to-read charts showing how State Farm stacks up against 33 other auto-insurance companies, based on customer surveys. ConsumerReports.org conducts its own surveys and puts out a similar chart, but the report is available only to subscribers. The Better Business Bureau and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners evaluate State Farm based on consumer complaints. Epinions.com offers a wealth of consumer reviews, positive and negative. The American Association for Justice, a trial lawyers' group, includes State Farm in its list of America's 10 worst insurance companies, in a study that includes lawsuits and news reports. There are no good insurance companies identified, however, to lend balance to the study.
1. J.D. Power & Associates
State Farm earns above-average scores for customer satisfaction and average scores for claims service in J.D. Power and Associates' latest surveys. This is the largest ranking of auto-insurance companies that we found. Thirty-four companies are ranked based on a survey of more than 25,000 auto owners.
Review: Insurance Ratings, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates
Editors rank 22 car-insurance companies, including State Farm, based on a survey of 28,241 people who filed claims with their auto insurers between January 2006 and June 2009. ConsumerReports.org issues scores for each insurer based on claims problems, non-claims problems and timely payment.
Review: Auto Insurer Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Oct. 2010
3. Better Business Bureau
State Farm earns a B-plus for trustworthiness at the Better Business Bureau for its headquarters in Illinois. However, each local Better Business Bureau provides its own ratings for State Farm's many satellite offices, which may differ; they're all posted on this website's searchable database, and it's easy to check on your local branch.
Review: BBB Reliability Report for State Farm Insurance Company, Editors of Better Business Bureau
4. National Association of Insurance Commissioners
Regulators across the nation upheld fewer complaints against State Farm in 2009 than the average insurer, according to this searchable database. You can also get a financial profile for each company here.
Review: Consumer Information Source, Editors of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners
State Farm auto insurance earns an average of 3 stars (out of 5) from more than 250 consumers here. Ratings are all over the map, but many of the latest are 1-star reviews from people who say they received poor customer service and were frustrated in attempts to make claims.
Review: State Farm Group -- Auto, Contributors to Epinions.com
6. American Association for Justice
State Farm is the fourth-worst insurance company in America, according to this trial lawyers' group. It says State Farm goes to great lengths to avoid paying claims, especially after disasters like Hurricane Katrina. The American Association for Justice is a lobby group representing thousands of lawyers. Ratings are backed up with research into trial cases, but no good insurance companies are identified to lend balance to the study.
Review: The Ten Worst Insurance Companies in America, Editors of the American Association for Justice