Saving is not only a matter of finding the lowest premium. An insurer can charge less in premiums but cost you more overall by lowballing loss estimates, hassling the repair shop to cut corners, and forcing you to pay extra for the manufacturer's replacement parts if you choose them over cheaper knockoffs. It can also unfairly jack up your premiums after an accident.
To get the best service when you need it most, consult our Ratings of 22 major insurers (available to subscribers), which are based on the experiences of 28,241 ConsumerReports.org subscribers who filed a claim between 2006 and the first half of 2009. Eighty-six percent of them were highly satisfied with the handling of their claims. Among the highest-rated groups were NJM, USAA, Amica, and Auto-Owners, with overall satisfaction scores of 92 or higher. Availability for some insurers is limited by region or policyholder eligibility rules.
All rated companies did well, but some did better than others. Only 10 percent of Auto-Owners policyholders complained about claims-related problems, such as delays and disputes over fault or damages. By contrast, 26 percent of Commerce customers had a complaint in that area.