Ratings Methodology for Auto Insurance

Auto insurance

NerdWallet's ratings for auto insurance companies take into account the following details about each insurer:
  • Financial strength.
  • Consumer complaints.
  • Availability of online account management tools.
  • Claims process.
  • Available discounts.
  • Website transparency.
  • Other insurance offerings.
The best auto insurers give buyers all the information they need to make a purchase without any surprises along the way. They offer insurance at a fair price and provide more than one way to buy and manage a policy. They're financially strong and able to keep their customers happy throughout the relationship.

Data collection and review process

We collect a dozen data points for each insurer from its public-facing websites and from company representatives, public filings, state regulator data and third-party analyses. These data points are then compared against one another and against NerdWallet's standards for good insurance companies to determine a star rating.

Data is collected on a regular basis and reviewed by our editorial team for consistency and accuracy. Final star ratings are presented on a scale of one to five stars, where a one-star score represents "poor" and a five-star score represents "excellent."

The reviews team

The writers and editors behind our auto insurance reviews are insurance specialists who have had their work featured by or appear in The Associated Press, The Washington Post, The New York Times, the Chicago-Sun Times, U.S. News & World Report and the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. Each writer and editor follows NerdWallet’s strict guidelines for editorial integrity.

In addition to auto insurance, the team covers life insurance, homeowners insurance, renters insurance and pet insurance.

Rating specifics

Our star ratings are weighted based on our editorial and professional opinions. We use the following weightings when rating auto insurers:
  • Financial strength (25%).
  • Consumer complaints (30%).
  • Ease of use (20%).
  • Affordability (20%).
  • Availability of other product offerings (5%).
Financial strength ratings, which indicate an insurer’s ability to pay future claims, are based on assessments from independent agencies such as AM Best, Moody’s and Fitch.

Consumer complaint ratings are based on complaints to state regulators relative to a company’s size. 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.

Ease of use ratings evaluate how easy it is to interact with an insurance company and its technical offerings, including getting quotes, filing and tracking claims, learning about coverage options and mobile app ratings.

Affordability ratings are based on how many potential discounts an insurance company offers to its policyholders.

Availability of other product offerings ratings evaluate how many other insurance products are available from the company. This excludes third-party policies from other companies, and includes only products underwritten and branded by the company being rated.