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The ten best car insurance companies: a 2014 update

Size isn’t always the most important determinant when considering the best car insurance company

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This year has seen a few shifts in the overall marketplace positioning for car insurance in the U.S. While the top spot as far as market share and total amount of direct premium written hasn’t changed (State Farm is still #1!), the rest of the top ten rankings saw some shifting and switching of positions. Has that had an impact on what companies are considered the best? Several organizations routinely monitor industry experts and consumers in how they feel about service companies like car insurance providers. Just as there have been some shifts in position and market share among U.S. car insurance companies, the rankings and rating of some of these companies have shifted this year as well.

Leading surveys

Groups as diverse as Consumer’s Digest, MSN/Money Magazine, JD. Power & Associates, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and the online polling site TheTopTens.com maintain and update lists of rankings for U.S. car insurance companies. While each of these organizations bases rankings on its own unique mix of criteria, some of the standard areas where insurance companies are ranked include:

  • Overall purchase experience
  • Claims handling and processing
  • Breadth of options
  • Price
  • Availability of local agents
  • Ease of use and sophistication of website
  • Helpfulness of call center staff
  • Ease of renewal

Most of the organizations that rank U.S. car insurance companies use a ranking system like a 100-point scale or a five-star ranking (some combine both for more detailed ranking and reporting.) Here is an overview of some of the leaders in ranking and what they’re reporting in 2014:

MSN/Money Magazine and Insure.com

best car insurance 2014(a)These two entities often combine and overlap efforts in ranking service companies and products such as car insurance coverage. In ranking car insurance providers, they routinely survey anywhere from 3,500 – 5,000 current policyholders with the country’s top 15-20 companies. They solicit comments and evaluations from these policyholders in categories such as satisfaction in dealing with online or phone service representative, claims handling (both in speed and settlement amounts,) and ease of renewal and/or administrative processing. They also ask policyholders if they would recommend the company to a friend or family member and if they have plans to renew a current policy when the time comes. Rankings are then compiled and tabulated on a 100-point scale. For 2014, here are the top ten companies as ranked by these two entities (and the cumulative rating they received):

1)  USAA – 93.9 points

2)  State Farm – 92.7 points

3)  Farmers – 91.5 points

4)  GEICO – 91.1 points

5) (Tie) AAA of Southern California –90.5 points

            Nationwide – 90.5 points

6)  Liberty Mutual – 90.2

7)  Allstate – 90

8)  American Family – 89.5

9)  The Hartford – 89

10)  Erie Insurance – 88.9

What’s interesting about this list is that two of the ten are regional providers. AAA of Southern California is one of the largest chapters of the nationwide car club/association and limits its car insurance offerings to members that are eligible for local services. Erie Insurance is the nation’s largest regional car insurance provider with licensing and services available in 13 states plus the District of Columbia.

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best car insurance 2014(b)This online resource gathers data and reports on an extensive cross-section of industries, products and services. When it comes to car insurance providers, FindTheBest rates companies based on what it calls its Smart Rating scale. The rating scale incorporates multiple expert ratings sources, consumer complaint data, company-specific premium data and company support services to provide a comprehensive, unbiased rating of how each company compares to others. It also ranks companies on a 100-point scale. Here are its rankings for 2014:

1)  Amica – 100 points

2)  USAA – 99 points

3)  Mercury Insurance Group – 97points

4) (tie)  Liberty Mutual – 93 points

            Nationwide – 93 points

            State Farm – 93 points

7) (tie) Elephant Insurance – 92 points

           American Family – 92 points

           Allstate – 92 points

           Wawanesa – 92 points

10)  Farmers – 90 points

Even more so than the previous list of rankings, this list is well represented by regional providers. Mercury, Elephant and Wawanesa are all car insurance providers that have a limited region where they are licensed to sell and service car insurance policies.


best car insurance 2014(c)Perhaps the most user-friendly ranking option you will find, this is very much the People’s Choice award for any products or services ranked here. This website solicits comments and votes from the general public and tallies and posts select conclusions based on the input results. While these rankings should be taken with a grain of salt, they can give you some idea of how people feel about these car insurance providers. (You may also find some of the online comments included with these rankings quite enlightening.) Here’s the current 2014 ranking:

1)   Liberty Mutual

2)   Esurance

3)   State Farm

4)   Allstate

5)   GEICO

6)   Progressive

7)   Nationwide

8)   USAA

9)   AAA

10) (tie) 21st Century Insurance and Acceptance Insurance

Just a small point to make about this list (and one that might be an indication of how popularity contests and all thoughts welcome surveys can be slightly skewed) is the fact that while Esurance and Allstate are listed separately, they are (in essence) the same company.

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J.D. Power

J.D. Power has become a standard-bearer in terms of monitoring, recognizing and awarding companies for exemplary service. Established in 1968, J.D. Power continuously conducts surveys involving consumers and business customers. Its company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers, tempered with insights and analysis from its own staff of technical and analytical professionals.

best car insurance 2014(d)There are several J.D. Power surveys involving U.S. car insurance companies. One that is often touted is its annual award for Highest Customer Satisfaction Auto Insurance Purchase Experience. For 2014, here are the top car insurance companies in that survey:

1)   Erie Insurance

2)   USAA Insurance

3)   Metlife Insurance

4)   State Farm

5)   American Family

6)   Liberty Mutual

7)   Ameriprise

8)   The Hartford

9)   AAA

10)  Nationwide and Amica (roughly tied)

best car insurance 2014 (e)In addition to the overall survey of car insurance providers, J.D. Power awards honors for outstanding service focusing on select regions of the country. The regional survey of outstanding car insurance companies for 2014 includes:

  • Southeastern United States – Tennessee Farm Bureau Insurance
  • Northwestern United States – PEMCO Insurance
  • North Central United States – Auto-Owners Insurance
  • New York (a market so big it warrants its own territory) – State Farm and GEICO (tied)
  • New England – Amica Mutual
  • Mid-Atlantic United States – The Hartford
  • Florida (another huge market of its own) – The Hartford
  • Central United States – Auto-Owners Insurance
  • California (a region unto itself) – Wawanesa
  • Southwestern United States – State Farm
  • Texas (everything is bigger there) – Texas Farm Bureau Insurance

As should be expected, regional providers dominate this regional survey. It should not be too surprising that The Hartford, while ranking 11th nationally in terms of market share and total direct premium written for car insurance coverage, would lead in Florida and the senior-heavy states in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Hartford is the car insurer of record for AARP members.

Check with your state

If you’re not sold on the notion of consumer or expert-based surveys, you can always go to the source when it comes to monitoring how well any particular insurance provider is doing in your region. States regulate insurance companies (and insurance agents) and any complaints or disciplinary actions taken against a company or agent is public information. While some states are better than others at making access to these records easy, every state has a specific insurance division of some sort that regulates licensing, standards, professional continuing education requirements, and the resolution of disputes and consumer complaints.


While surveys can help you get a sense of what other consumers (and industry experts) may experience in their dealings with any particular car insurance provider, every driver and every family ultimately has to pick an agent and a company suited to its unique circumstances. Sometimes, you can get some invaluable first impressions by spending some time speaking directly with a car insurance agent. An agent will be able to answer any questions you have about coverage options, levels, limits and even what discounts you may be eligible for. Reply! can serve as an excellent resource for you here as we can put you in direct contact with local agents eager to help you get the coverage you need from an agent you’ll be able to trust

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