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How to choose the right auto insurance company


How do you make your insurance buying decision? If you’re like most people, you ask your friends and family, check a cost-comparison website and watch TV ads as a source for your short list. None of those sources provide a comprehensive view of how insurance companies handle claims and deliver service to their customers. Until now, there’s only been one source that makes that information accessible – ValChoice. Now you have a second place to find current data on claims handling and that’s CRASH Network.

Based in Portland, Oregon, CRASH Network is an independently published newsletter covering collision repair and auto insurance industries. Editor John Yoswick and his team also conducts its own independent research and produces an annual survey of the insurance industry called the Insurer Report Card.

Every year, CRASH Network asks body shops nationwide to grade the performance of auto insurance companies. Shops award each company a grade from “A+” to “F” based on one question: “How well does this insurer’s claims handling policies, attitude and payment practices ensure quality repairs and customer service for motorists?” Here’s what they found:

. . . the insurers getting the highest grades from the more than 1,000 participating body shops were typically smaller, regional insurance companies, ones that consumers may not be familiar with because these companies do not spend billions of dollars per year on advertising.

We’re not surprised. We’ve been saying the same thing for almost 10 years. Some companies decide to differentiate themselves using advertising dollars. Others choose to invest in customer service. It’s those in the latter category that deliver when you need it the most, when filing a claim. That may only happen once in a decade, but when it does, your carrier’s response can mean everything. In extreme circumstances, it can spell the difference between staying afloat financially or needing to file for personal bankruptcy.

Now, we’re not all doom and gloom. Nor do we believe that good auto insurance coverage needs to cost more. This too was reinforced by CRASH Network’s report:

Choosing a highly-graded insurance company also doesn’t necessarily mean a higher-priced policy. In many cases, consumers will find these smaller insurance companies offer premiums that are very competitive with, and in some cases lower than, the larger national insurance companies.

Yes! Again CRASH Network’s findings closely correlate to that of ValChoice’s research. After evaluating more than 25,000 companies across the United States, and examining data from SERFF, state insurance commissioners, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, AM Best Company, and S & P Market Intelligence, ValChoice came to exactly the same conclusion. Good coverage doesn’t need necessarily to cost more. It just doesn’t. In fact, it may cost less.

If you’re interested in the CRASH Network Insurer Report Card (and you should be), download it here. And if you want to find the Best Auto Insurance Companies in your state according to ValChoice, go here.

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