Bristol West Auto Insurance Review 2022

Jan 6, 2022

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Our Take

3.0

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line:

This insurer offers coverage for high-risk drivers and can help you out with an SR-22, but it has a high volume of customer complaints.

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Bristol West Auto Insurance
Bristol West
NAIC complaints
More than expected
Ease of use
Above average
Discounts
Average set of discounts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Can get an SR-22 if you need one.
  • Many payment options.
  • Available in most states.

Cons

  • More than the expected number of complaints about auto insurance to state regulators.
  • Likely not the best option for drivers who aren’t high risk.

Full Review

Bristol West provides auto insurance for high-risk drivers through a network of agents and brokers in most states. A subsidiary of Farmers Insurance, one of the nation’s 10 largest car insurance companies, it offers SR-22s and FR-44s for drivers with major violations on their record.

You can also buy Bristol West’s auto insurance policies through Foremost Insurance, another Farmers brand.

Bristol West insurance coverage

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 in order to drive a vehicle. Although minimum coverage requirements vary from state to state, they generally include liability insurance and uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

If you want extra protection, you may be interested in full coverage insurance. Full coverage isn’t a specific policy type; it's 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 type

What it pays for

Required?

Bodily injury and property damage liability

Costs for injuries, deaths or property damage from an accident you caused.

Typically required.

Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage

Medical and property damage costs after an accident with a driver who has insufficient insurance or none at all.

Often required.

Collision coverage

Repair expenses from traffic-related accidents, regardless of who's at fault.

A car loan or lease may require it.

Comprehensive coverage

Repair 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.

In addition to these standard types of coverage, Bristol West offers:

  • SR-22 and FR-44 availability. Many states require an SR-22 form to prove you have car insurance after a DUI or other serious violation. In Florida and Virginia, you may need an FR-44 form to show you have enough coverage.

  • Gap insurance. If you owe more on your loan or lease than your policy will pay when your car is totaled or stolen, Bristol West’s gap insurance will cover the difference, minus your deductible.

  • Rideshare coverage. If you drive for a service such as Uber or Lyft, Bristol West’s rideshare insurance covers you while you’re waiting for ride requests. Rideshare companies’ policies cover you only while you’re en route to pick up passengers or while passengers are in your car, leaving a coverage gap between rides.

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Auto insurance discounts

Car insurance discounts from Bristol West vary by state. Depending on where you live, you may be eligible for discounts for:

  • Insuring more than one car.

  • Having an additional policy, such as a motorcycle or RV policy from Foremost.

  • Paying for your policy in full, upfront.

  • Making electronic payments.

  • Owning a home.

  • Not having a vehicle in your household. Non-owner car insurance provides liability coverage when you drive a car that isn’t yours, such as a rental.

  • Avoiding accidents and traffic violations.

  • Being covered for at least 6-12 months with a previous insurer.

  • Getting policy documents by email.

  • Buying a policy at least two days before it takes effect, with no lapse in coverage.

Auto insurance buying guide

Before you compare car insurance companies, you’ll need to collect some basic information. This includes the driving history of everyone who will be on the policy, as well as facts about your car, such as safety features and annual mileage driven. You’ll also want to determine 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 make your decision based on price alone. Look at how many consumer complaints each company has, as a high number of complaints could be a red flag about the quality of service you'll 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.

Complaints

Relative to its size, Bristol West had more than the expected number of auto insurance complaints to state regulators, according to three years’ worth of data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

More about Bristol West auto insurance 

Website: Bristol West’s website has minimal details about coverage options, but it does let you take action. You can request a quote, find an agent, see your insurance ID card, make a payment, and report or check on a claim directly from the homepage. There’s also a useful FAQ section that answers payment-related questions, including how to get text alerts when payments are due or overdue.

Mobile app: On Bristol West’s mobile app, you can pay premiums, view your ID card and see policy details. It’s compatible with Apple and Android devices.

Payment options: If you pay online, you can use a bank account, debit card or credit card at no extra cost. You can also set up automatic monthly payments or pay by phone, mail, Western Union or MoneyGram.

Methodology

Auto insurance ratings

NerdWallet’s auto insurance ratings reward companies for customer-first features and practices. Ratings are based on weighted averages of scores in several categories, including financial strength, consumer complaints and discounts. Our “ease of use” category looks at factors such as website transparency and how easy it is to file a claim. Using our editorial discretion, we also consider customer satisfaction surveys. These ratings are a guide, but we encourage you to shop around and compare several insurance quotes to find the best rate for you. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for any reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.

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.

Frequently asked questions