The Best Car Insurance Companies of 2021

Auto insurance is how you pay for the damages after a car accident — damages to yourself, your car and in some cases, other drivers’ cars.
In the event of a collision or accident, your deductible is the amount you pay before your insurance carrier will step in to cover the rest. The higher the deductible, the more you have to pay before the policy kicks in. For example, if your deductible is $1,000 and you have $1,200 worth of damages to your car after a collision, you will pay $1,000 and insurance will cover the rest.
After a collision, you don’t get money to cover damages automatically. You have to file a claim. Start by contacting your insurance agent, regardless if you were at fault or not. You’ll want to keep any documentation or medical bills and take pictures of the damage of your car. The claims process should be fairly painless, though you should always review to ensure you’re satisfied with your payout.

How to choose the best car insurance company for you

This isn’t Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants — your car insurance premium might not fit your best friend’s needs. Because of that, there isn’t one best car insurance company that is the right fit for every driver. Thankfully you have The Simple Dollar working to help you make frugal and savvy financial decisions that fit everyone. Car insurance is regulated on a state level and coverage costs can vary based on where you live. Meaning your friend or neighbor may pay a different amount based on their location, selected coverage and driving history. If you’re thinking of switching car insurance companies and want to ensure you get the best coverage for your needs, here are the steps you should follow.

1. Check your state-required coverage

In nearly all states, drivers are required by law to carry some form of car insurance or proof of financial responsibility. Every state has requirements for the level of insurance and the minimum amount of coverage each driver must have. For example, Virginia has minimum requirements for insurance, but drivers can bypass paying for an insurance premium by paying the state $500 each year. This fee doesn’t give the driver insurance, but it allows them to drive at their own risk. Use the Insurance Information Institute’s guide to determine the insurance requirements for your state.
After you’ve found what’s the minimum amount of insurance required for your state, you should next determine if you live in a no-fault or fault state. In a no-fault state, your car insurance will pay for your vehicle’s damages and your medical bills after an accident, regardless of who caused the crash. In a fault state, the person who causes the accident is responsible for covering the other driver’s losses.
No-fault states include: Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Utah

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2. Know your deductible

Most coverage options will have a deductible –– the amount of money you have to pay out-of-pocket towards a covered loss before your insurance policy will step in. Collision, comprehensive and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage will all have a deductible.
While you shouldn’t opt out of coverage options just to save money, there are times it just doesn’t make sense to have the extra coverage. A classic example is collision coverage. If your car’s value is too close to the deductible, you probably won’t get reimbursed from your insurance company after a loss.
Let’s say your car is worth $1,000 and your deductible is $1,000. If you get into an accident and your car sustains $800 worth of damage, you wouldn’t get an insurance payout because your deductible would cover the entire cost. It’s always important to determine which types of coverage make sense for you, but especially if you have an older car that’s low in value.

3. Shop around

Risk isn’t the only factor that car insurance companies use to calculate your rate. Many insurers also use “price optimization,” meaning they set rates based on how much customers are willing to pay.
Large insurance companies analyze an enormous amount of customers’ personal data, such as social media posts, credit scores and even your online shopping habits. Then, they run the data through a proprietary algorithm that estimates how likely you are to shop around or just renew your existing policy each year. By doing so, they can increase your premium just enough to raise their profit margins without attracting your attention and prompting you to shop for a new policy.

4. Consider discounts

If you want a policy with a lot of additional coverage, the end price can feel a little overwhelming. Especially when you consider car insurance isn’t something you’re actively using every day. Capitalizing on the discounts providers offer is one way to ease that financial burden. When you’re shopping around, look for discounts that tailor to your needs. Here are some of the common discounts offered by most providers:
Defensive driving discount
Good driver discount
Low mileage discount
Safe driver discount
Multi-driver or multi-policy discount
Student discount