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State Farm vs Allstate, Geico, Progressive: Which is Best?

Signs showing best car insurance price versus the best coverage

In the battle for your car insurance dollar, the four most successful U.S. companies are State Farm, Allstate, Geico, and Progressive. Combined, these insurance powerhouses insure nearly half of all vehicles on the road.

For most drivers, the choice of insurance company boils down to a combination of cost and customer loyalty. Some customers will stay with the same company for years without ever considering shopping around. Others base their decision solely on cost and will compare rates regularly to make sure they are not overspending on car insurance.

But which one is best? Let’s take a look at each one and see how they stack up.

State Farm

State Farm is headquartered in Bloomington, IL, and has nearly 19,000 agents and about 350 claim centers. Founded in 1922 by a retired farmer, State Farm now handles almost 40,000 claims a day and is the largest auto insurer in the U.S., with over 45 million active auto insurance policies.

State Farm sells car insurance through exclusive agents, which means they only sell products provided by State Farm. Unlike independent agents, they cannot compare rates from other companies when providing rate quotes.

The strength of State Farm lies in their exceptional brand strength, with many insureds being loyal to the company for generations. They offer a wide range of insurance and financial services, and in 1999, they began offering banking services as well.

State Farm is a private mutual company, which means it is owned by it’s policyholders. This differs from the other companies in that they are owned by stockholders and are publicly traded.

Allstate

Allstate is the third largest auto insurance company in the U.S., and is the largest publicly held insurer. Founded in 1933 as part of Sears, Roebuck and Co., it was spun off into it’s own company in 1993. Allstate’s headquarters is in Northbrook, IL, which is a large suburb of Chicago.

Allstate currently has over 18,000 active car insurance policies, and sells policies through it’s network of over 20,000 exclusive agents. It also owns Encompass Insurance, which distributes policies through independent agents. Their “You’re in good hands” slogan and advertising campaign is the most recognizable brand identity in America.

Geico

Geico is well known for the gecko used in their advertising, and it is the second largest personal auto insurer in America. Geico was founded in 1936 to provide car insurance to federal employees, and in fact, the name GEICO stands for Government Employees Insurance Company.

Geico sells insurance primarily direct, but they do have about 150 local agent offices scattered throughout the U.S. They are well known for being one of the cheaper companies available, and they also are one of the primary insurers for ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

Headquartered in Chevy Chase, MD, Geico is owned by Berkshire Hathaway and provides coverage for more than 24 million vehicles.

Progressive

Progressive was founded in 1937 and has it’s headquarters in Mayfield Village, OH. With over 27,000 employees, Progressive is the fourth largest auto insurer in the U.S. with over 13 miillion active policies in force.

They sell coverage primarily online, like Geico, but they also offer products through over 30,000 independent agents.

Progressive initiated usage-based insurance, with their Pay-as-you-Drive feature, also known as Snapshot. This allows Progressive to track your driving habits via a dongle that plugs into your vehicle’s OBD port. Infrequent and good drivers pay less for coverage, which high usage or reckless drivers pay more.

Company Comparisons

Now that we covered a little information on the background and sales channels of each company, let’s see how they stack up in a comparison of customer satisfaction, value, claims service, and optional policy coverages offered.

Auto Insurance Company Comparison
State FarmAllstateGeicoProgressive
Customer Service92/10092/10089/10088/100
Value for Price85/10078/10081/10086/100
Handling of Claims92/10092/10094/10093/100
Policy Discounts3rd1st2nd4th
Market share percentage18.3%10%11.4%8.8%
A.M. Best ratingA++A+A++A+
Standard & Poor’s ratingAAAA-AA+AA
New car replacementNoYesNoNo
Coverage for Uber and Lyft driversYesYesYesYes
Mechanical breakdown insuranceNoNoYesYes
Usage-based insuranceYesYesNoYes
Emergency roadside serviceYesYesYesYes
Accident forgivenessNoYesYesYes
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Comparison of Car Insurance Discounts

No comparison would be complete without looking at the different discounts offered by each company. Each insurer offers a slightly different selection of discounts, and these can add up to significant savings.

Auto Insurance Discounts Offered
DiscountState FarmAllstateGeicoProgressive
Bundle discountYesYesYesYes
Multi-vehicleYesNoYesYes
Theft preventionYesYesYesYes
Safe vehicleYesYesYesNo
Air bagsYesYesYesNo
New vehicleYesYesNoNo
Accident-freeYesYesYesYes
Defensive driverYesYesYesYes
MilitaryYesNoYesYes
EmploymentNoNoYesNo
Pay in fullNoYesYesYes
Paperless billingNoYesYesYes
Customer loyaltyYesNoNoYes
Smart studentYesYesYesYes
Student at collegeYesYesNoYes
Own a homeNoNoNoYes
Use seat beltsNoNoYesNo
Discount InformationViewViewViewView
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Which Company is Best for You?

State Farm, Allstate, Geico, and Progressive all have their own unique features that may appeal to different insureds.

If your goal is to save money: Geico

If you just want cheap car insurance, the first place to look will probably be Geico. They tend to offer some of the cheapest rates, especially for federal employees or active military.

If your goal is the best customer service: State Farm

With an agent on almost every corner and plenty of claim centers, State Farm comes out on top for customer service.

If your goal is best overall value: Progressive

Progressive isn’t necessarily the best at any one thing, but they are good at a lot of things. Decent price, good claims service, and innovative coverages put them at the top of the overall value rating.

If you want a local insurance agent: State Farm or Allstate

Both State Farm and Allstate have a good selection of agents in most markets. If you prefer to have more options for coverages, then throw Progressive in the mix due to their association with many independent agents.

If you want the most discounts: Allstate

Allstate tends to offer the widest selection of discounts, but it’s important to note that all of them may not apply to you. So when shopping around, choose the company that has the best price after the discounts are applied.

If you want the best company for you: Shop Around

We covered the four largest auto insurance companies in this article, but there are literally hundreds more companies to choose from when insuring your vehicle. Many smaller insurance companies rely on their agent network to sell policies and advertise very little. Some may only sell coverage in a single state, but their underwriting experience allows them to fine tune rates for a specific area which may result in lower prices.

It’s important to shop around and compare rates at least every two years, as rates change regularly and the great rate you had a few years ago may not be so great anymore. So take a few minutes, get some quotes, and see how different companies stack up. You might be surprised to find that the company with the best rates is not even one of the top four.

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