Root Auto Insurance Review 2023

Lacie Glover
By Lacie Glover 

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Our Take

The bottom line:

Safe drivers may save with Root, which sets its rates primarily based on driving history, but its customer service and complaint records are poor.

Root Auto Insurance
NAIC complaints
Far more than expected
Ease of use
Average
Discounts
Very few discounts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • By refusing to cover risky drivers, Root can keep rates down.
  • Can get an SR-22 if you need one.
  • Can do just about anything from the app.

Cons

  • More likely to decline coverage than other companies.
  • Not yet available in all states.
  • Far more than the expected number of complaints to state regulators.

Full Review

Root Insurance makes a promise most other companies 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, which is usually the case for teens and young adults.

Drivers with poor credit may also want to consider Root, as the company has promised to eliminate credit scores from its pricing model by 2025. As it stands now, most insurance companies use credit-based pricing. Only California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan and Washington ban insurers from the practice.

But while Root may offer you low rates for acing its Test Drive, know that the company has a high number of complaints compared with many other insurers.

Why you can trust NerdWallet: Our writers and editors follow strict editorial guidelines to ensure fairness and accuracy in our coverage so you can choose the insurance policy that works best for you. These carrier ratings are specific to auto insurance — a company's rating for other products may be different on our site. See our criteria for evaluating auto insurance companies.

In our auto insurance reviews, our editorial team considers both the customer and the insurer. These are some of the factors we take into account:

Financial strength. We use A.M. Best ratings to confirm an insurer’s long-term financial stability and ability to pay claims. NerdWallet does not recommend companies with a rating lower than a B. 

Complaints. These ratings are based on complaints to state regulators relative to a company’s size, according to three years’ worth of data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The best auto insurance companies have fewer than the expected number of complaints.

Ease of use. This category looks at how easily consumers can interact with an insurer through its mobile app and website. This includes how much coverage information is offered online, whether a user can start and track a claim online and get a quote and mobile app scores based on the Apple and Google Play store ratings.Discounts. We look at both the kind of discounts a company offers and the total number of discounts available.

How Root auto insurance works

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 in to 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 hard braking, turn speed, miles driven, driving routes and what time of day you drive. 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 covers only “good” drivers. By eliminating risky drivers from its customer base, Root can charge lower premiums overall.

Root auto insurance coverage

When you're shopping for car insurance coverage, it's important to understand what car insurance coverage you want and what you’re required to buy. For instance, most states require a minimum amount of car insurance to drive a vehicle. Alternatively, if you want extra protection, you may be interested in full coverage insurance. Read about the most common types of car insurance coverage to see how they work.

Root offers 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.

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 the insurer, you do this through the app.

🤓Nerdy Tip

First time shopping for auto insurance? Unsure of where to start? Check out our guide on how to shop for car insurance.

Auto 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 ways to save include:

  • Buying more than one insurance policy from Root.

  • Paying for your policy upfront.

Complaints

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

More about Root auto insurance

Website: Root has an intuitive website with an extensive FAQ, a blog and other informational material. You can sign up and start a quote online, but you have to take the Test Drive to get the quote, so you’ll finish the process on your mobile device.

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, available on both Apple and Android devices.

Other insurance from Root Insurance

In addition to auto insurance, Root offers renters insurance. It sells homeowners policies and other insurance products through its partner, Homesite.

Methodology

Insurer complaints methodology NerdWallet examined complaints received by state insurance regulators and reported to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2019-2021. 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. NerdWallet conducts its data analysis and reaches conclusions independently and without the endorsement of the NAIC. Ratios are determined separately for auto, home (including renters and condo) and life insurance.

Frequently asked questions