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Root Auto Insurance Review 2021

Safe drivers may save with Root, which sets its rates primarily based on driving history, but its customer service and compalints records are poor.
Aug. 25, 2021
Auto Insurance, Insurance
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  • Sets rates based primarily on your driving behavior.
  • Can provide an SR-22.
  • Tech-savvy customers will like that you can do just about anything from the app.

Root Insurance offers drivers a promise most others don’t: auto insurance rates based primarily on how you drive. To get an auto insurance quote from Root, you first take a “Test Drive,” where you let the company’s app track your driving behavior for a few weeks. The better your driving, the better the quote.

You may especially benefit from this type of pricing if you’re a safe driver but have high car insurance rates, like teens and young adults.

Drivers with poor credit may also want to consider Root, or a company offering a similar pricing structure. Although most other insurers use your credit as a pricing factor when calculating your rates, Root has promised to eliminate credit scores from its pricing model by 2025. California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan and Washington don’t allow insurers to use credit when determining car insurance rates.

Root may offer you lower rates if you ace the Test Drive, but their complaints and customer service records are poor compared to many companies.

» MORE: Pay-per-mile and usage-based insurance

Root Insurance pros and cons

By refusing to cover risky drivers, Root can keep rates down.More likely to decline coverage than other companies.
Can get an SR-22 if you need one.Not yet available everywhere.
Can do just about anything from the app.Customer service and complaint records are poor.

Root auto insurance

Most companies rely heavily on your demographic information, credit and driving history to set rates. Root does, too, but it factors in that data to a lesser extent so that more of your quote is based on how you drive during your two- to three-week Test Drive.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign-up for a Test Drive. You can either begin from Root’s website or download the app and opt into the quote process.
  2. Allow Root to track your driving behavior to get a personalized quote. You’ll have to allow the app access to your phone’s GPS to measure driving behaviors including speed, hard braking, time of day driving, turn speed and ride smoothness. Root claims that the app can tell whether you’re a passenger through machine learning, so you shouldn’t get penalized for the behavior of another driver while you’re riding in their car.
  3. Receive a quote, if Root decides to cover you. After monitoring is up, Root will either send you a quote or decline to cover you. The company is upfront that many drivers are refused a quote, saying on its site it doesn’t cover “bad” or high-risk drivers. For those who do get a quote, this is good news — by eliminating risky drivers from its customer base, Root can charge lower premiums overall.

Root auto insurance coverage options

When you’re shopping for car insurance, it’s important to understand what car insurance coverage you want and what you’re required to buy. Most states require car insurance to drive a vehicle, although minimum coverage requirements vary from state to state. This generally includes liability insurance and uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

If you want extra protection, you may be interested in full coverage insurance. Full coverage isn’t a specific policy you can buy, but rather a combination of coverage types like liability, collision and comprehensive insurance.

Check out the most common types of car insurance coverage below to see how they work:

Coverage typeWhat it pays forRequired?
Bodily injury and property damage liabilityCosts for injuries, deaths or property damage from an accident you caused.Typically required.
Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverageMedical and property damage costs after an accident with a driver who has insufficient insurance or none at all.Often required.
Collision coverageRepair expenses from traffic-related accidents, regardless of who's at fault.A car loan or lease may require it.
Comprehensive coverageRepair costs from events outside of your control — including weather events, hitting an animal while driving, theft and vandalism.A car loan or lease may require it.

Root offers these standard types of coverage, as well as:

Roadside assistance, included in Root policies at no additional charge. While most insurers offer roadside assistance for a monthly or per-use fee, Root covers up to three incidents per six-month policy term, up to $100 per incident.

Rideshare option for rental coverage. Most auto insurers offer rental reimbursement coverage, which pays for a rental while your car is in the shop due to a covered wreck. Root has the same coverage but is a little more flexible, allowing customers to instead be reimbursed for rides from Lyft. With each claim, the option is the customer’s, but Root says it can help you decide.

Lyft on Us offers policyholders free Lyft rides on holidays like St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Eve and Independence Day. This program is not available in North Dakota.

SR-22 availability. You can get an SR-22 form, a certificate you file with your state that proves coverage, from Root Insurance. Like most interactions with Root, you do this through the app.

» MORE: Car insurance quotes: What you need to know

Root car insurance discounts: Root doesn’t offer many discounts. However, rates are based on your driving behavior, which essentially gives you a safe driver discount.

Other discounts available include:

  • Multiple-policy discount.
  • Discount for paying upfront.

More about Root

Complaints: Root had more than the expected number of auto insurance complaints compared to other insurers of similar size, according to data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Website: Root has an intuitive website with many FAQ, blog articles and other informational material. You can sign up and start a quote online, but everyone who wants a quote takes the Test Drive, so you’ll finish the process on your smartphone.

App: Root policies are entirely app-based, so you can view your policy documents and ID cards, pay bills, file and track claims, summon roadside assistance and more with your smartphone. You can even request an SR-22 or change your policy from the app, which is highly rated in the Apple and Android app stores.

Auto insurance buying guide

Before you compare car insurance companies, you’ll need to collect basic information, such as the driving history of everyone on the policy and facts about your car, including safety features and annual mileage driven. You’ll also want to understand which types of coverage you need. For example, do you want only the bare minimum insurance that your state requires, or do you need more extensive coverage, such as gap insurance or rideshare coverage? Check that each company you’re considering has the options you want.

When comparing rates among insurers, make sure each is offering the same coverage limits and deductibles. You may not want to decide based on price alone. Look at how many consumer complaints each company has, as high numbers can be a red flag about the quality of service you might receive.

Depending on which company you choose, you may be able to buy insurance online, over the phone or through an agent. For more guidance, see how to get car insurance.

Methodology: Insurer complaints

NerdWallet examined complaints received by state insurance regulators and reported to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2018-2020. To assess how insurers compare to one another, the NAIC calculates a complaint index each year for each subsidiary, measuring its share of total complaints relative to its size, or share of total premiums in the industry. To evaluate a company’s complaint history, NerdWallet calculated a similar index for each insurer, weighted by market shares of each subsidiary, over the three-year period. Ratios are determined separately for auto, home (including renters and condo) and life insurance.

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