Car insurance is one of those strange purchases: Everyone needs it, but no one ever hopes to have to use it.
But because you’re required by law to have it, and because it will offer you much needed financial protection in case you’re in an accident, you might as well buy insurance from the insurers rated the highest in overall customer satisfaction, right?
Fortunately, the folks at J.D. Power annually rank auto insurance companies by customer satisfaction.
Amica Mutual topped the company’s 2009 National Auto Insurance Satisfaction Survey, earning a rare five-star rating when it comes to making its customers happy. Also ranking high on the list were four-star winners State Farm, Shelter, Auto-Owners, Erie Insurance and Country. Coming in with three stars were Geico, American Family, Esurance and Safeco.
Other auto insurers didn’t fare as well on the J.D. Power list. These include AIG, GMAC, 21st Century, Commerce, Travelers and Mercury, each of which earned just two stars when it came to overall customer satisfaction.
Overall, though, consumers are surprisingly happy with their auto-insurance companies. You might think that insurers would rank rather low among consumers, somewhere in the range of politicians, used-car salesmen and members of the media. In reality, though, consumers gave their auto insurers an average 842 out of 1,000 personal satisfaction rating in 2009. That’s up from the 818 personal satisfaction rating that consumers gave their car insurers just one year earlier.
Of course, this satisfaction rate doesn’t prevent consumers from switching their auto insurers. Almost 40 percent of consumers have switched auto insurers in the last five years. Service and product strength weren’t the main reasons for these moves. Consumers reported that price differences caused them to move in 57 percent of these instances.
With that in mind, which auto insurer offers the lowest average cost for drivers? That’s a difficult question to answer because some insurers offer bare-bones coverage while others charge more but offer a higher level of financial protection. But in general, Geico seems to offer the lowest rates.
Geico’s average policy cost is $605 for male drivers and $579 for females. Next comes AAA, which on average charges male drivers $639 and females $648. Auto insurer 21st Century charges male drivers an average premium of $682 and female motorists $674. Also on the inexpensive side is Nationwide ($665 for males, $690 for females), Progressive Choice ($740 for males, $715 for females) and Allstate ($741 for males, $755 for females).
Insurers offering more expensive average policies include Essurance ($868 for males, $862 females), Farmer’s/Mid Century ($892 males, $804 females), State Farm ($930 males, $877 females) and Liberty Mutual ($1,272 males, $1218 females).
All this being said, which auto insurers are the biggest when it comes to policies written? State Farm tops the list, with more than $30 million worth of auto insurance policies written in 2009. Next is Allstate with more than $17 million written and Berkshire Hathaway, with more than $12.5 million in policies in 2009.
Other top earners include Progressive ($11.6 million), Zurich Insurance ($8.8 million), Nationwide ($7.5 million), Liberty Mutual ($7.2 million), USAA ($6.2 million), American International ($4.4 million) and American Family Insurance ($3.4 million).