Saturday, July 2, 2011

3 BEST AUTO INSURANCE BY REVIEWS

3 BEST AUTO INSURANCE BY REVIEWS number 1 Amica Mutual Auto Insurance

Reviewers say Amica Mutual is the best auto insurance -- if you qualify. Customers say Amica is very picky about its clients, shying away from those who pose much risk. Drivers who've had several accidents or tickets will probably have better luck with a huge company like State Farm, experts say. But State Farm -- like the vast majority of auto insurers -- gets lower ratings than Amica for price and customer satisfaction. Reviewers and customers say Amica offers the total package: great car insurance rates, helpful customer service, hassle-free claims and long-term stability. Amica is America's oldest mutual auto insurer and is named an accredited business at the Better Business Bureau with an A-plus rating. Although Amica has scattered regional offices, it does most of its business over the phone. One other insurance company, USAA, gets similarly superb ratings, but it's open only to military families.

J.D. Power and Associates provides the best overview of Amica Mutual, rating it (and 33 other companies) on 15 measures based on large consumer surveys. ConsumerReports.org also compares Amica with 21 other companies based on reliable surveys, but the report is only available to subscribers. The Better Business Bureau rates Amica's trustworthiness, and the New York State Insurance Department ranks it against 39 other auto insurers based on customer complaints filed there. We found plenty of consumer reviews at Epinions.com, positive and negative. Amica earns an "OK to buy" rating at the website Fight Bad-faith Insurance Companies, but the site gives only vague information about how that rating is calculated -- and no information about who runs the site.

Pros

* Outstanding customer service
* Pays claims promptly
* Low prices
* Better Business Bureau accreditation
* Serves all states except Hawaii

Cons

* Very picky about clients, reviewers say
* Few local agents



1. J.D. Power & Associates

Amica Mutual ranks at or near the top of every J.D. Power and Associates insurance survey. Customers give it high marks for price, claims and service, but Amica does lose points in the local-agent category as it does most of its business over the phone.

Review: Insurance Ratings, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates

2. ConsumerReports.orgDetails/Subscribe

Amica Mutual is one of 22 car-insurance companies rated in this most recent ConsumerReports.org survey. Editors rank the companies from best to worst based on a survey of 28,241 people who filed claims with their auto insurers between January 2006 and June 2009.

Review: Auto Insurer Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Oct. 2010

3. Better Business Bureau

Amica Mutual has been an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau since 1957, and it earns the highest grade of A-plus on its trustworthiness. This report includes general information about the 23 Better Business Bureau complaints filed against Amica within the past three years and how Amica handled them.

Review: BBB Business Review Reliability Report for Amica Mutual Insurance Company, Editors of Better Business Bureau

4. New York State Insurance Department

Amica Mutual is one of three auto insurers that have topped this chart for four years running. The chart shows the number of complaints that New York regulators have upheld against 40 major auto insurers, relative to their size.

Review: 2010 Annual Ranking of Automobile Insurance Complaints, Editors of New York State Insurance Department

5. Epinions.com

Amica earns an average of 3.5 out of 5 stars from more than 40 consumers here. It gets a lot of 5-star ratings full of praise, but several reviewers say they've had claims problems and rate hikes, and that Amica found them too risky to cover.

Review: Amica -- Auto, Contributors to Epinions.com

6. Fight Bad-faith Insurance Companies

Amica is one of only three insurance companies rated "OK to buy" at this website, which puts 100 insurers into Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame categories. FBIC says it's a nonprofit, but it gives no information about who runs it.

Review: FBIC Ranking 100, Editors of Fight Bad-faith Insurance Companies



3 BEST AUTO INSURANCE BY REVIEWS number 2 USAA Auto Insurance



If you're in the military, reviews say you've got the best auto insurance option anywhere. The United Services Automobile Association (USAA) tops just about every auto insurance ratings chart there is. It's financially strong, earning the highest possible scores at all five ratings services (Moody's, Standard & Poor's, A.M. Best, Fitch Ratings and Weiss Ratings). Customers say USAA reps are extremely helpful, and most report no problems with claims, although a few claimants say they've gotten a runaround from USAA. Reviews praise USAA's low prices, but it's also a favorite among wealthy military and former military clients. However, only current or former military personnel are eligible, as are the children of policyholders.

J.D. Power and Associates provides the most thorough analysis of USAA, ranking it against 33 other insurers based on 15 criteria (including price and overall claims experience) from thousands of owner surveys. ConsumerReports.org does similar rankings, but you must be a subscriber to read them. The New York State Insurance Department ranks USAA against 39 other auto insurers based on customer complaints filed there. Weiss Ratings lists USAA among the top auto insurers based on its financial strength. Epinions.com has lots of consumer reviews for USAA, positive and negative.

Pros

* Helpful customer service
* No-hassle claims
* Low prices
* Exceptional financial strength

Cons

* Open only to military families



Where to Buy

* Check rates at USAA



1. J.D. Power & Associates

USAA earns the highest possible ratings in nearly every category in J.D. Power and Associates' latest insurance survey of more than 25,000 policyholders. However, USAA is only open to military families.

Review: Insurance Ratings, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates

2. ConsumerReports.orgDetails/Subscribe

USAA is among the 22 car-insurance companies ranked in ConsumerReports.org's most recent survey. Editors surveyed 28,241 people who filed claims with their auto insurers between January 2006 and June 2009. Each company is rated on claims problems, non-claims problems and timely payment.

Review: Auto Insurer Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Oct. 2010

3. New York State Insurance Department

USAA is one of three auto insurers that have topped this chart for four years in a row. The review ranks 40 auto-insurance companies according to their "complaint ratios" -- the number of complaints that New York regulators have upheld against them, relative to company size.

Review: 2010 Annual Ranking of Automobile Insurance Complaints, Editors of New York State Insurance Department

4. Weiss Ratings

USAA is one of the four financially strongest auto insurance companies in America, according to Weiss Ratings, which is owned by TheStreet.com. ConsumerReports.org says TheStreet.com's financial ratings are more stringent than Standard & Poor's, Moody's or A.M. Best's.

Review: Property and Casualty Insurers, Editors of Weiss Ratings

5. Insurance Journal

USAA is the favorite property/casualty insurer of the wealthy, according to this report on a survey by the Luxury Institute market-research firm. More than 2,100 households with at least $200,000 in gross yearly income and a minimum net worth of $750,000 were surveyed.

Review: High Net Worth Consumers Rank USAA, Chubb, and American Family Top Three P/C Insurers, Editors of Insurance Journal, May 19, 2006

6. Epinions.com

USAA is the most consistently top-rated auto insurer at Epinions.com, earning an average of 4.5 stars (out of 5) from more than 180 consumers. However, a few say they've had bad claims experiences.

Review: USAA Group -- Auto, Contributors to Epinions.com






3 BEST AUTO INSURANCE BY REVIEWS number 3 State Farm Auto Insurance



If other auto insurers won't accept you because you've had wrecks or tickets, experts say you might try State Farm. It's the biggest auto insurer in the U.S. and Canada, and although it doesn't offer the lowest prices, reviews say State Farm is more likely to take a chance on a higher-risk driver than a top-rated, small car-insurance company like Amica Mutual. Unlike Amica and a lot of other insurers, State Farm still works through local agents -- and reviews say some agents are better than others. State Farm gets its share of complaints about poor customer service and wrongfully denied claims. However, it gets better reviews than other mega-insurers like Allstate.

J.D. Power and Associates offers easy-to-read charts showing how State Farm stacks up against 33 other auto-insurance companies, based on customer surveys. ConsumerReports.org conducts its own surveys and puts out a similar chart, but the report is available only to subscribers. The Better Business Bureau and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners evaluate State Farm based on consumer complaints. Epinions.com offers a wealth of consumer reviews, positive and negative. The American Association for Justice, a trial lawyers' group, includes State Farm in its list of America's 10 worst insurance companies, in a study that includes lawsuits and news reports. There are no good insurance companies identified, however, to lend balance to the study.

Pros

* Might be willing to insure higher-risk drivers
* Huge network of local agents

Cons

* Average prices
* Complaints about claims, customer service



1. J.D. Power & Associates

State Farm earns above-average scores for customer satisfaction and average scores for claims service in J.D. Power and Associates' latest surveys. This is the largest ranking of auto-insurance companies that we found. Thirty-four companies are ranked based on a survey of more than 25,000 auto owners.

Review: Insurance Ratings, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates

2. ConsumerReports.orgDetails/Subscribe

Editors rank 22 car-insurance companies, including State Farm, based on a survey of 28,241 people who filed claims with their auto insurers between January 2006 and June 2009. ConsumerReports.org issues scores for each insurer based on claims problems, non-claims problems and timely payment.

Review: Auto Insurer Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Oct. 2010

3. Better Business Bureau

State Farm earns a B-plus for trustworthiness at the Better Business Bureau for its headquarters in Illinois. However, each local Better Business Bureau provides its own ratings for State Farm's many satellite offices, which may differ; they're all posted on this website's searchable database, and it's easy to check on your local branch.

Review: BBB Reliability Report for State Farm Insurance Company, Editors of Better Business Bureau

4. National Association of Insurance Commissioners

Regulators across the nation upheld fewer complaints against State Farm in 2009 than the average insurer, according to this searchable database. You can also get a financial profile for each company here.

Review: Consumer Information Source, Editors of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners

5. Epinions.com

State Farm auto insurance earns an average of 3 stars (out of 5) from more than 250 consumers here. Ratings are all over the map, but many of the latest are 1-star reviews from people who say they received poor customer service and were frustrated in attempts to make claims.

Review: State Farm Group -- Auto, Contributors to Epinions.com

6. American Association for Justice

State Farm is the fourth-worst insurance company in America, according to this trial lawyers' group. It says State Farm goes to great lengths to avoid paying claims, especially after disasters like Hurricane Katrina. The American Association for Justice is a lobby group representing thousands of lawyers. Ratings are backed up with research into trial cases, but no good insurance companies are identified to lend balance to the study.

Review: The Ten Worst Insurance Companies in America, Editors of the American Association for Justice

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