Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate drivers about...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Licensed Agent for 10 Years Laura Walker

UPDATED: Jun 29, 2022

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When shopping for auto insurance you should look for companies with good customer service, as well as good prices. According to consumer satisfaction surveys throughout the nation, the top three companies in customer satisfaction are The Hartford, USAA, and Liberty Mutual.

Searching for car insurance can be confusing enough as it is, and it is easier when you have friendly and helpful representatives to guide you.

Begin your auto insurance rate search here by entering your ZIP code into the FREE quote box!

Customer satisfaction is not only important in the beginning. You may originally choose an auto insurance company based mainly on price, but if other factors are not up to par, eventually you will probably end up switching companies.

Being satisfied with the company in all areas is important for the long term, and some companies deliver better than others.

Experience with Auto Insurance Purchase

According to J.D. Power and Associates, The Hartford wins the 2012 award for the insurance shopping experience. USAA and Liberty Mutual scored high ratings as well.

In the 2012 insurance shopping experience awards consumers were asked to rate providers based off of five different categories: price, policy offerings, local agent, insurer website, and call center representative.

The Hartford earned the highest rating of five in all categories except for local agent and insurer website, which both earned three stars.

USAA earned the highest rating in every category, which placed it very competitively with The Hartford. USAA received no stars for the local agent category, as most of the communication with the company is through its website or over the phone.

Although the company rates highly, the catch is that its auto policies are not available to everyone. You must be a current or past military member or family member of one.

Liberty Mutual rated fairly high with an overall experience of four stars. It received no five-star ratings but it did get four stars in every category except for the insurer website, which earned two stars.

Insurance Provider Ratings

Along with rating insurance companies on their purchase experience, J.D. Power also rates them according to how they take care of their consumers over the long haul. The provider ratings include policy and pricing, as well as contacting the insurer and billing and payments.

It also breaks it down into different areas of the country since not all insurance providers can sell insurance in every state.

For example, in the Central region, the top two insurance companies earning five stars in every category are Texas Farm Bureau and USAA.

In the Mid-Atlantic region, the top-rated companies are Erie Insurance and USAA. In the Southeast, the Tennessee Farm Bureau and USAA scored the highest.

For companies in the Western region, State Farm was the award recipient and USAA continues to land in the top with five stars in every category. In the Northeast, Amica Mutual and USAA took the top ratings.

In North Central, Auto-Owners Insurance and State Farm tied for the Award Recipient and Erie Insurance and USAA both received five stars in overall satisfaction. Finally, in the state of California, Wawanesa and USAA both received five stars in all categories.

Better Business Bureau

Although J.D. Power and Associates gives you a good idea about insurance companies in general, it does not give the complete picture. Some insurance companies deal with their customers mainly through phone or the Internet, while others have local offices and agents.

With local offices, customer service satisfaction can be all over the board. Some agents are going to do a standout job representing the company, while others will do a lackluster job.

If you are looking at an insurance provider that uses mostly local agents, you may want to do a more thorough search about the offices themselves.

A good resource for this is your local Better Business Bureau.

You can easily access the BBB online and find out about specific insurance offices in your neighborhood.

You can do a general search for auto insurance companies or put in a specific company’s name. For example, if you want to find a State Farm office in Denver, the website will lead you to the offices. They don’t have to be accredited by the BBB to be included.

Under each office there is a place to check out any complaints against it. The BBB breaks down complaints into five different categories.

You can see complaints about advertising and sales issues, billing and collection issues, problems with the service or product, delivery issues, or warranty and guarantee issues. It will show how many complaints have been made by consumers and how they were handled.

There is also a place on the website where you can file your own complaint. If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of the insurance company you are currently with, you will be doing fellow insurees a favor by getting this information out publicly.

More than likely, most insurance companies are going to have some complaints made against them over time, but the most important thing is how they handle them.

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Handling of Claims

The way an insurance company handles a claim is a big issue. The reason you pay for insurance premiums is so your claims will be paid if you do happen to need to use your coverage.

You should definitely check out how a company has historically handled claims before you decide to go with it for your insurance needs.

J.D. Power is one source for this information. The award recipient for claims in 2012 is Auto-Owners Insurance. New Jersey Manufacturer Insurance Company scored high marks, as did–not surprisingly–USAA.

There are many aspects to the claims process. There is filing a claim, getting appraisals of repair costs, getting access to a rental car if necessary, the actual repair process, the settlement, and communication with your agent and/or adjuster.

If you are unsatisfied with any of these aspects, especially the repairs and settlement, the Insurance Information Institute can give you some advice.

The first thing you should do is to make sure that someone is aware that you are unsatisfied. You should start with your agent or a representative from the company itself. If there is a complaint department for the company, send a letter and call them as well.

Always back up the statement and complaint you are making with proof and support.

If you aren’t able to get anywhere with your insurance company, contact the insurance department of your state and present your case.

In extreme cases, you may want to contact the American Arbitration Association. It has resources to help with insurance disputes, claims, and other matters.

Switching Insurance Companies

If you are dissatisfied with the customer service or other aspects of your current insurance provider, try first to resolve the issue with the company. It may be simply and quickly taken care of once the company or your agent knows about the complaint.

If your issue or complaint is not resolved, it is okay to switch companies. Auto insurance is a big portion of many households’ monthly budgets and it is important that you are happy with the policy that you have.

If you do decide to change companies, it is imperative that you stick with your current company until you find a new policy. If you cancel your policy before getting a new one, not only will you not have coverage in the event that something happens but it also looks bad to future insurance companies.

When you have a gap in car insurance coverage, you will usually end up paying more for any future insurance premiums. Even a short gap of a week or even a day is not good. Usually you will need to provide proof that you have had continuous coverage on your automobiles.

Don’t worry about paying money for two insurance policies. Once your new policy is in effect, either you or your new agent will contact the other company and inform them that you have switched to a different policy.

With proof of this new coverage, you will receive a rebate for any premium you have paid that overlaps with the new one.

How to Find Insurance Companies

Besides resources such as J.D. Power and the Better Business Bureau, there are other ways to find a new or different car insurance company. The Internet is often your best resource. Not only can you access multiple companies and quotes, it can be done quickly and on your own time.

Some websites, like the one you are on now, allow you to get quotes from more than one company. You only have to enter your information once rather than multiple times at separate insurance company sites.

Because this is vast information such as car type and year, driving habits and history, coverage types, special car features, credit history information, and personal contact info, filling this out can take 20 to 30 minutes each time.

Once you have found a couple providers that fit into your budget, you should take a little extra time to check them out. The BBB, your state insurance department, and A.M. Best are all good resources to use.

Start to look for car insurance rate quotes now by filling your ZIP code into the FREE space provided!

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