Whether or not you’re a licensed driver or own a vehicle, auto insurance is a part of your life in one form or another. From the government mandate for all highway vehicles to be insured against liability to the seemingly ceaseless advertisements, insurance (particularly auto insurance) affects each of our lives every day. Is Geico or Progressive car insurance better for you?
The dominance of the insurance industry is so prevalent that the ‘Big Five’ Insurers: Geico, Progressive, State Farm, Allstate and Farmers have become household words. From Progressive Insurance’s ‘Flo’ to the Geico gecko, most readers of this article could likely name the spokes figure, slogan and jingle of all five companies.
Let’s look at comparing Geico vs Progressive Car Insurance
For all that ubiquity of presence, most people don’t know much about insurance and find insurance shopping overwhelming and stressful. The result is that a majority of people sign up for whichever marketing has had the strongest impression on them. Or they might follow a quick suggestion from a friend or maybe even whichever flyer ends up in their mailbox.
For this article, we are going to keep our comparison between two relatively comparable carriers: Geico and Progressive. Then we’ll break down insurance shopping and policyholder guidance into a few easy categories.
Enrolling in Auto Insurance
Before we look into a comparison of our chosen insurers, let’s take a step back. First let’s examine if you need auto insurance, what sort of insurance is right for you, and then begin our comparison shopping. Hopefully, our car insurance guides and resources can help you make the best decision for your needs.
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Does Auto Insurance Cover the Car or the Driver?
This may seem like a silly question, but it’s not. It’s not simple either. In general, auto insurance covers the car not the driver.
This means that if your uninsured friend borrows your insured car and gets in an accident, the coverage that you have on your vehicle should come into play. However, when it comes to a filed claim, the results may differ depending on the policy, coverage, and jurisdiction.
Some insurers and policies only cover the vehicle of someone listed on the policy is driving. Other policies cover family members or co-residents of the insured. In a bit, we will discuss different types of auto insurance. This also plays a part, as do the details of the other party involved in the crash and who is determined to be ‘at fault’ in an accident.
The best advice is to thoroughly know your own policy and make sure your actions (e.g. loaning out your car to a buddy) are covered.
When Do I Need Auto Insurance?
This is another complicated question that depends, at least partially, on which U.S. state you are driving in. All states have ‘minimum insurance laws’. In other words, if a car is driving down the road, it must carry some level of insurance. If you are personally uninsured and you want to borrow a car, you should check with the owner’s insurance to see if their policy will cover you in the case of an accident.
A few states require you to show proof of insurance to apply for or renew a driver’s license. Almost all states require you to show proof of insurance to register a newly purchased car or renew the car’s registration. If you are renting a car and you have your own insurance, you can often elect to rely on your own coverage.
If you don’t have coverage (or don’t want to use it), you can purchase the right to use the rental agency’s coverage while you drive their car.
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Types of Auto Insurance
Now you know a little bit about insurance (or at least some of the questions to ask), and you’ve decided to get your car insured. Before we go comparison shopping, you should know the key differences in a few types of auto insurance.
Liability insurance is the most basic and least expensive form of auto insurance. It covers other people and other people’s property injured or damaged due to a wreck which is your fault. Enrollment is required by most states before you can drive a car.
If you are the cause of a wreck and don’t have liability insurance, you could end up paying out of pocket and facing legal action.
In the case of an accident, collision insurance covers your own car. It may cover some of the cost of repairs or replacement if the accident is your fault. If the other driver is at fault, their liability insurance should cover your claim.
Collision insurance isn’t generally required by law but is a good idea if you wouldn’t be able to cover the cost of repair or replacement out of pocket. If you need to take out an auto loan, your lender may require you to have collision coverage of a certain amount.
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Insurance
These types of insurance help protect you and your car in the case of an accident with an uninsured motorist or a hit-and-run. Since many drivers carry the minimum liability insurance (which has limits), this insurance can help recoup your losses if the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your repairs.
Warranties (Which Are Not Insurance)
Many new cars come with some type of warranty. This can be a bumper-to-bumper warranty or a warranty covering certain parts of the car. These are typically limited by years and mileage (whichever comes first).
For instance, you might have a ‘Bumper-to-Bumper, 3 Year, 36000 Mile Warranty). This means that your entire car is covered for three years or until it runs over 36,000 miles. It is also possible to buy 3rd party warranties for used cars who have outlived their factory warranties.
While both insurance and warranties cover your car, they are very different in what they cover and when they cover it. Generally, insurance covers accidents and warranties cover equipment failure.
For instance, if your fender falls off, it may be covered by a warranty. If your fender is dented by another car, that’s a matter for insurance. Now, if your fender falls off, causing you to run your car into someone else’s, that’s just a messy situation, ripe for finger-pointing.
The Four Cs of Auto Insurance Consideration
You’ve heard of the Four Cs of Diamond buying that aren’t exclusive to Geico vs Progressive insurances. I’ll give you the Four Cs of Auto Insurance Consideration. All insurance companies fall somewhere on a sliding scale when it comes to all four of these factors.
They’re all worth considering, and where you are in life (personally, financially) will determine which of them dictates your business.
Many motorists are extremely budget conscience, so cost is a big consideration. You only have to listen to the advertisements for insurance to realize that this is a driving factor. While it’s always good to comparison shop, making your determination based only on lowest rate, may be ‘penny-wise and pound-foolish’, meaning you may lose your monthly savings when you lack the coverage to compensate you for a claim.
Another wrinkle when it comes to cost: a carrier that is cheaper for one driver is not always cheaper for another. Gender, age, car mileage, credit score, driving history, accident history, and DUIs all factor into the rate that an insurer will charge a driver. See some examples of this in our best car insurance rates for California post that breaks down these different categories.
Coverage is at the other end of the consideration from cost. If an insurance company isn’t advertising their cheap rates, they are probably bragging about their superior coverage. Depending on your earning and life situation (e.g. family), coverage may be your driving factor.
For instance, while young, single motorists trying to save money often pick the lowest rate, older motorists with stable income and a family may opt for more coverage.
When it comes to something as expensive, confusing and problematic as auto insurance, customer service is more than just a time and hassle-saver. Good customer service can help you pick the correct plan, adjust your payments and coverage to save you money and cover important life changes, and reduce stress at extremely stressful times.
Convenience goes hand-in-hand with customer service. You see the importance of this fourth factor in mobile apps, roadside assistance and insurers that promise to get you signed-up or process a claim in minutes.
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Geico vs. Progressive: A Snapshot of the Four Cs
Average Customer Service
Average Customer Service
Geico vs. Progressive: An In-Depth Look at the Four Cs
Let’s now take a look at Geico vs Progressive when it comes to some of the major points to look out for.
Geico vs Progressive Cost
After USAA, Geico is typically the least expensive insurance carrier in the country. Its low rates plus a catchy and aggressive ad campaign have also made it the second-largest insurer after State Farm. Geico keeps its rates low chiefly because it conducts almost all of its business online or over the phone.
While not true across all state and all driver situations, Geico is generally cheaper than Progressive. It also has a very low minimum coverage rate, appealing to insurance shoppers who are looking for the absolute lowest monthly rate, regardless of the coverage.
Generally, Progressive is more expensive than Geico. While Geico is almost entirely online (and automated), Progressive employees a network of agents throughout the country. While this may be a plus for customer service, it is a cost that the carrier must pass on to the policyholders.
In certain states (e.g. Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina), Progressive averages cheaper than Geico. Progressive also averages cheaper than Geico for drivers who have had a DUI.
Progressive also offers ‘Snapshot’, which lowers your insurance rate if you don’t drive often, don’t speed, don’t brake hard, etc. This can be a financial benefit to some or a detriment to others. As you’ve probably noticed from the ads, Progressive has some other cost-related features such as the ‘Name Your Price Tool’ and a comparison feature which shows competitors side-by-side.
All of this is a bit gimmicky, but it can help you decide on the best coverage at an affordable rate.
Geico vs Progressive Coverage
Most of the ‘economy’ factors affect its customer service, not its coverage. For starters, it ranks #4 among US Auto Insurers according to US News & World Report – not bad for a budget insurance provider. According to ratings agency A.M. Best, its financial strength is A ++ which means it is in an excellent financial position to pay out claims.
Furthermore, for a company its size, Geico had fewer complaints to state regulators than the median company its size. A few other coverage options that Geico offers: rideshare, mechanical breakdown coverage, emergency roadside assistance, and auto repair Xpress.
Progressive has comparable coverage options when compared to Geico. US News & World Report ranks it #7 amount US Auto Insurance companies. Its financial strength is A + according to A.M. Best, so slightly lower than Geico’s.
One of Progressive’s strengths is the sheer quantity of insurance options it offers, including rideshare insurance, roadside assistance, gap insurance, custom parts and equipment value, pet injury protection and deductible savings bank, which reduces your deductible by $50 every six months you’re claim-free.
Customer Service: Geico vs Progressive
Geico: Customer Service
Due to the nature of its structure, customer service is an area where Geico struggles. The insurance giant is almost entirely online and over the phone, so it lacks that ‘you’re in good hands’ approach of some older, more mainstream competitors.
That said, especially among the younger, more tech-savvy batch of drivers, Geico’s array of online and app-based resources are refreshing. (More about this in our next section.) All-in-all, J.D. Power rates Geico as ‘About Average’ among auto insurers when it comes to customer satisfaction.
Progressive: Customer Service
While Progressive does have more agents in the field than Geico, it is still a discount insurance provider. One of the ways that it passes savings onto its rates is by keeping the payroll and real estate slim. Unlike big insurers like State Farm and Farmers, it doesn’t have brick-and-mortar stores. It lacks a bit of that human touch.
As with Geico, J.D. Power gives it a rating of ‘about average’, but it has slightly lower customer satisfaction ratings on sites like consumer affairs.
Convenience of Geico vs Progressive
If we are talking about electronic and mobile convenience, here Geico is at the top of its game. Through the website, you can get a quote within minutes, make a payment or submit a claim. The mobile app is also fully capable of handling the majority of customer demands, including roadside assistance, 24/7 agent chat and access to your digital ID card.
Geico’s electronic access even goes as far as voice assistance. Similar to Amazon’s Alexa, the virtual assistant ‘Kate’ can answer most of your questions and keeps your hands free to increase safety behind the wheel.
All of this is fine as long as you consider electronic convenience, well, convenient. If unfamiliar or uncomfortable with a lot of cyber and bot-based interaction, you may want to avoid Geico.
Like Geico, Progressive is very convenient – electronically. It has a similar website and app features, most of which are available 24/7 – something that the majority of people are coming to expect out of many conveniences.
We have already talked about Snapshot, the Name-Your-Price Tool, and the Comparison feature, but these all also fall into the ‘convenience’ category. Progressive also has some great auto-financing resources. Through a partnership with Capital One Auto Financing, you can get auto loan quotes and refinancing options.
Geico vs. Progressive: Summary
So, after considering all 4 C’s where do the two stand? In a nutshell, Geico and Progressive are very comparable across most areas. They are both discount auto insurers that lean heavily on automated services.
For most people, Geico generally comes out slightly lower on cost. It also ranks slightly higher in customer satisfaction and convenience. Progressive has more coverage options. It offers a lot of bundles and other tools that may benefit individuals who are interested in making certain driving and purchasing choices to maximize coverage and minimize cost.
With both of these discount carriers, the good news for tech-savvy consumers is that the savings are obtained by cutting back on personnel, not coverage. If you’re happy managing your insurance without ever meeting the man behind the curtain, both of these providers may work just fine for you.
How to Lower your Rate (and Keep it There)
Before we wrap, let’s talk about the gorilla in the room: your rate and why it’s so high. While some of the factors are beyond your control, you can work on others. There are factors that work against a lower rate.
To a large extent, insurance rates are about probability. Certain aspects and behaviors are statistically more likely to cost the insurance companies money, and they pass those costs on to you in your premium. The lower you make the probability of a large payout, the lower your insurance rates can drop.
Tip 1: Keep a clean driving record
Common sense, but worth saying anyway. Accidents, moving violations and other infractions all hike your rate up – some more than others. For instance, a DUI can really take a toll on your premiums.
Also, 2nd and 3rd offenses within a short period of time raise the red flags – and your rate. Insurers figure that everyone slips up every-so-often, but repeat offenders signal a pattern of dangerous (and costly) behavior.
Tip 2: Stay Insured
Just as longer credit history can give you a better credit score, a longer history of being insured can lower your rates. First of all, it’s just more information for carriers to work with – the devil they know. It also signals that you are a conscientious person with a history of taking care of things.
Tip 3: Don’t Miss Payments
Speaking of conscientiously taking care of things, don’t short-pay or late-pay your insurance premiums. Not only is this a good way to get dropped from your insurance carrier (which may open you up to all sorts of woe), but it will probably cause an increase in your rates.
Paying your other bills on time will improve your credit, which could also drop your rates.
Tip 4: Consider Whether to File the Claim
Generally, using your insurance raises your rates. Sometimes you may not have a choice but to file a claim. For instance, you are at fault for an accident that you can’t afford out-of-pocket.
However, for small accidents, you may choose to pay out of pocket and avoid engaging your insurance carrier. To make up an example, a $500 repair may cost you a $250 deductible and then a rate hike of $25/month, which will quickly evaporate the money you saved by filing the claim.
Tip 5: Talk to Your Agent
Depending on the carrier, your agent may have some flexibility on how to configure your rates. If nothing else, they will know all the tricks to get you the lowest rate possible.
It may be that you qualify for rate discounts (e.g. safe driver, college student, married) that were not automatically applied. Or, you may save money by combining insured assets under one provider. It never hurts to ask.
Final Thoughts on Geico vs Progressive
As with any part of your life, due diligence is the key. Many people do not take the time to do a bit of research that could avail them better options and help them live more frugally. Hopefully, this Geico vs Progressive review brings clarity.
Auto insurance is something that most Americans need and that drastically affects daily life, from the mundane bill to the dramatic collision. Whether you elect to go with Geico, Progressive, or another insurer, always do so with the full confidence that comes with a well-researched plan.