Evaluating auto insurance company ratings/rankings to get yourself the best possible deal can be cumbersome if you’re doing it for the very first time. But it is a simple task that can be completed easily.
As a customer, you need to know where to look for ratings and, more importantly, you need to know how to evaluate the ratings to choose a company. Here are a few ideas that will help you evaluate auto insurance companies and make an informed decision about which company to go with.
Investigate the company
The first step to find out more about any auto insurance provider is to visit the state department’s website. All states have a department for insurance, and they publish “consumer complaint ratios” for all auto insurance companies that sell insurance in the state. The ratio gives you the number of complaints received for every 1000 claims filed.
Auto insurance experts recommend that you use the complaint ratio when you are making a decision about prospective insurers. There is no guarantee that a big company will treat you fairly. Do a little homework, and compile a list of auto insurance companies with the lowest insurance premiums. Make another list with the lowest consumer complaint ratios and compare the two lists. The ideal choice will be the companies that have the best ranking on both the lists.
The state department websites will also give you a basic rate comparison survey. This should give you a basic idea of what to expect from the insurance company without having to type in all your personal information. This invaluable information will help you when you’re making the final decision about which company to choose.
Remember that if you can’t find the consumer complaint ratios for a company in your state you can check the insurance department websites for other states. If you consistently find that the company has a bad record, it is wiser not to choose that company. On the other hand, a bad rating in just one state does not really count because insurance company practices can change significantly from state to state.
A good place to get links and contact information to the various state department websites is the website of an organization called Insurance Consumer Advocate Network (I-CAN).
Check with your local body shop
Another source of valuable information is the local body shop. Body shops regularly interact with insurance companies to process claims and carry out repairs. These companies will have the unique perspective of having worked with different insurance companies on a variety of claims for different kinds of insurance covers. Make sure that you go to body shops that you can trust. Body shop managers will have information about which companies have the smoothest claim processes as this will affect the time it takes to fix a vehicle that has been damaged. Your body shop will also have information about which companies use aftermarket parts in place of genuine or OEM parts to save money.
Check the JD Power ratings
J D Power and Associates is a very reputed organization that collects data from individual policy holders from all over the US, and then rates them. Some of the variables that are used in the rating include coverage options, price, claims handling, satisfaction with company representatives and the overall experience. Visit the J D Power Consumer Center to get a first hand feel of how various companies compare. The organization also publishes an annual survey of major auto insurers. Check for insurance companies that have consistently been ranked high on the J D Power survey and compare the names with the other names that you have already short listed. See how they compare.
Remember that the top ranked names on the J D Power survey actually got there by figuring out how to cover a claim, rather than trying to figure out a way of not paying like some insurance companies do.
Check strength ratings
Also check the A.M. Best and the Standard & Poor rating both of which publish ratings of the financial strength of the companies. The ratings measure the company’s ability to pay out a claim. While it would be a safe bet that payments will not be problem with well known companies, it is still something that you should look at when you consider the larger picture. This is especially true when you’re considering a small, relatively unknown insurance company.
A. M. Best gives a rating that ranges from A++, which is the highest to D. the company also has an E rating which indicates that regulatory action is being taken for the company’s solvency. F is a rating that is given to companies that are in liquidation and an S rating is given to those that are suspended. Bear in mind the fact that you only work with companies that have at least a B+ rating.
Standard & Poor ratings range from AAA which is the highest to CC. Companies under regulatory supervision receives an R rating and those that are not listed get an NR rating. You should only consider companies that have at least a BBB rating for your own safety.
Get an agent to help you
If you’d like to take the simpler but slightly more expensive route, work with an insurance agent. At one point all insurance was sold by agents, but companies now offer the option of buying directly from them. If you’re considering working with an agent, remember that there are two kinds of agents – Captive agents who only sell insurance from one company, and independent agents or brokers as they are sometimes known who represent several companies.
Also remember that you can change insurance companies without changing an agent. Make sure that you don’t get pressured by the agent; remember – the agent is there to help you make a decision.
To know more about auto insurance company ratings/ rankings in your area, just enter your zip code in the quote box on this page.
Budget Auto Insurance Company