To decide which companies were the best rated, we decided to take a look at which ones received the least complaints relative to their business size. Using data from the North Carolina Department of Insurance, we calculated a complaint index that compares the number of complaints to the number premiums in dollars. Below is a table ranking the insurance companies in North Carolina by the lowest index numbers (best) to highest (worst) complaint index. If the index is less than one, the insurer is better than the average, and if it is greater than one, it is worse than the average. For example, if the company’s complaint ratio is 1.15, the company has a 15% higher share of complaints compared to its market share.
Some insurance companies will provide their customers with a hire car for a limited period of time if their vehicle has been stolen. There is also the possibility of pre-purchasing a ‘discount hire car benefit’ or ‘comprehensive hire car benefit’, which will ensure you have access to a hire car while your vehicle is being repaired from damage caused in an accident.
Your auto insurance rate depends on who you are as a driver, as well as your age, your credit, your vehicle, and your location. How insurance companies weigh these attributes is reflected in your premium. For example, having a limited driving history or a poor credit score can raise your rates dramatically. Our analysis of major rating factors shows how premiums shift from company to company.
Across the board, the longer and with the higher limits you have insurance, the cheaper your premium will be. Using historical data, insurance companies see those with above state minimum requirements as less likely to file a claim or get into an accident. Because of the decreased risk you present, insurance companies tend to lower your rates. In essence, the longer you've been insured for, the lower your rates will be, with all other metrics kept constant.
A large part of an insurance premium depends on the type of car you drive. Is it a Corvette? Lamborghini? Maybe a Ferrari? Or perhaps you drive a Chevy Volt? Each car will impact the base cost of your monthly insurance mainly for the replacement value of the vehicle. In fact, some states and auto insurance companies will not cover certain vehicles. Also, high theft risk cars cost more to cover as well. Hummers, for example, are more costly than other SUVs and one of the determining aspects is the Hummer is stolen more often than other models. Either way, your premium may be higher due to one of those situations. Since you probably won't be going out and buying a new car just to lower your auto insurance, it's good to know what else can affect the costs of a new policy.
Like we said earlier, comparing car insurance quotes gets a lot easier if you establish how much coverage you’re looking for before you shop around. You’ll want all the quotes you pull to have the same coverage types, limits and, of course, deductibles. How else will you know what insurer is, in fact, offering the best price? Here’s a quick rundown of how to figure out what type of policy you need.
When you get an insurance quote, an agent might add extraneous coverage. Unlike your home, your vehicle will rapidly depreciate in value, meaning the coverage you once had might not be necessary after a few years. For example, collision and comprehensive coverage are designed to protect your vehicle from damage. But if your vehicle is worth less than $4,000, the value of insurance payout you would receive may not justify the cost of your insurance premium.
If you're new to the world of insurance, you should start your record with higher than state minimum limits. This will not only help protect your liability but also start a good relationship with insurance companies. Looking at the information below, you can see that having 5 years with 100/300/100 liability limits can save you an average of $219 a year!
Like a DUI, a reckless driving citation can raise your car insurance rates. If you’ve received a reckless driving citation, your best bets for cheap car insurance are Nationwide and Liberty Mutual, despite the latter being one of the more expensive insurance options if you don’t have a violation. This shows the importance of comparing car insurance rates carefully — your driving profile will be handled differently by every company.
Custom Parts/Equipment: This coverage is not used by everyone. But if you have after-market installations that are permanently attached to the vehicle you may want to consider this to cover your additions. The most important thing to know about this is that if you do have after-market installations, notify your insurance company or they may not be covered if you are in an accident.
In aggregate, our three most expensive cities in North Carolina ranked with a cost of car insurance that was 17% greater than the state mean. The average annual premium for these three cities was $946, which, while expensive relatively speaking in the state, actually fell on the cheaper side compared to other states the team has analyzed. These locations ranged vastly in size from populations of less than 5,000 to over 203,000.
How it works: Once I launched the quoting tool for auto insurance, I was greeted by a large-print brag that “Drivers Pay As Low As $29.32/Month for Car Insurance.” When I began filling in my vehicle information, the site offered to save me time by looking up the information for me—a frightening reminder of how much of our personal information is available online. The contact information fields were accompanied by text stating that “we respect your privacy” and “NO SPAM, privacy guaranteed.”
Holy cow, car insurance quotes, amiright? To say they’re confusing is a massive understatement. There are just so many numbers. And acronyms. And terms no non-insurance expert should expect to understand. (PIP, anyone? Anyone?) And, while you can get a sense of how much your car insurance would cost — that number is usually prominently displayed right up top — understanding the rest of the quote, like how much protection you get and what you’re still on the hook for, is … well, something else.
Results: After a short wait, the quoting tool produced two quotes, for $299 per month and $971 per month, plus links to two other insurance sites. SmartFinancial allows you to narrow down the results further by selecting desired features such as local agents and low down payment, but given how limited the results were in the first place, that particular option isn’t much help.
Insurify’s quote comparison tool was a great help in shopping for car insurance. I particularly liked how easy it was to compare rates based on a custom coverage level; with a few clicks, I could alter the parameters (say, by changing the liability coverage maximum or adding roadside assistance) and get a whole new basket of quotes instantly. Every year, Insurify also publishes a Best Car Insurance Companies list.
Since most people choose one of these large insurers, NerdWallet compared quotes from the five largest auto companies in ZIP codes across the country. Rates are for policies that include minimum coverage required in each state, plus collision and comprehensive coverage. Our “good driver” profile is a 30-year-old with no moving violations and credit in the “good” tier. Use the tabs to see rates for drivers with credit in the “poor” tier and those with one at-fault accident as reported to the insurer.