Doug Bernhard has stuck with one auto insurer for more than two decades, as have almost four in 10 Consumer Reports subscribers. But don’t assume that his is a case of blind loyalty. Rather, Bernhard’s insurer, USAA, earned his business by consistently delivering the best-quality service and lowest premiums year after year. “USAA rates are very good,” says Bernhard, of Roswell, Ga. “But I will always shop and compare. After all, no one looks out for my welfare like I do.”
That kind of mutual allegiance in this competitive business might explain why auto insurance is one of the most highly rated consumer services we’ve evaluated over the past 35 years. That’s based on our recent survey of more than 29,000 subscribers who filed an auto-loss claim between January 2009 and June 2012.
“I got as close to red-carpet service as could be expected under the circumstances, and my premiums barely increased after a costly at-fault accident,” says Cory Fryling, a survey respondent from Ontario, Calif., about highly rated Amica.
An impressive 87 percent of claim filers in our survey were highly satisfied with how their insurer handled and settled their claims. But in a separate survey of online subscribers, just 71 percent of people who had vehicle damage from Superstorm Sandy were highly satisfied with the handling of their claims. Most respondents (68 percent) said their annual premiums—$1,200 on average—were about the same as or lower than they were in the previous year. Even among those who saw their rates rise unrelated to a claim, usually by $50 to $199, just 23 percent thought the hike was excessive.
Some auto-insurance cost factors are beyond your control, but you can still economize. Our reports presents ways to get the best value while maintaining the coverage you need.