Car insurance buying guide

Car insurance comparison, reviews

At a glance

  • A.M. Best financial strength rating: A+ (superior).
  • Complaints: Fewer than the industry median for a company of its size.
  • Size: No. 8 auto insurance company based on direct premiums written, according to A.M. Best.

Nationwide auto insurance

Nationwide offers standard coverage choices such as liability, collision, comprehensive, uninsured/underinsured motorists, medical payments and personal injury protection.

A few add-on features set Nationwide Insurance apart. For example, its “vanishing deductible, ” which costs extra, can wind up saving you money. For every year you drive without an accident or driving violation, Nationwide reduces your deductible by $100, up to $500. Availability varies by state.

But as Consumer Reports notes, over time the vanishing deductible can wind up costing you more than you save. That kicks in at nine years, when you will have spent $540 ($60 per year) for deductible savings capped at $500. It may be worth checking to see whether you can achieve comparable savings over time by simply raising your own deductible and not buying “vanishing deductible” coverage.

Also optional is Nationwide’s SmartRide, which is available in 24 states and gives a price break based on safe driving habits that are monitored by a device plugged into your car. The device measures miles driven, nighttime driving, hard braking and fast acceleration. After about six months Nationwide has enough information to set a discount of up to 40% in most states. You get a 10% discount just for signing up. Discounts vary by state, however. There’s no cost to join SmartRide.

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Auto insurance discounts

Nationwide auto insurance offers a number of discounts. You may qualify if you:

  • Have more than one policy with Nationwide.
  • Have at least five years of safe driving without an at-fault accident or major violation.
  • Install an anti-theft device in your vehicle.
  • Enroll in paperless billing and payments.
  • Complete a driver safety course. (You must be at least age 55 to qualify.)
  • Join the Family Plan, which extends discounts to family members.
  • Join the SmartRide program.
  • Keep a minimum B average in high school or college. Drivers age 16 to 24 are eligible.

Nationwide homeowners insurance

Nationwide home insurance coverage pays for damage to your home, your belongings and structures on your property. A standard policy typically covers you for fire, natural disasters (except floods and earthquakes), theft and other problems. It also includes additional living expenses coverage, which pays for your costs to live somewhere else while your home is being repaired or rebuilt after a loss.

Liability insurance and medical payments are also standard. Liability pays out if someone is hurt in your home or if a family member damages someone else’s property, and medical payments cover expenses for someone who is hurt on your property.

Nationwide’s optional Brand New Belongings coverage is available in homeowners, condo and renters insurance policies. It pays to replace or repair your belongings with new ones, rather than reimburse you for the depreciated amount.

Should your roof need to be replaced, optional Better Roof Replacement coverage rebuilds to high standards recommended by industry experts.

Nationwide also offers renters and condo insurance.

Home insurance discounts

Nationwide Insurance offers home insurance discounts, including up to 20% savings for bundling home insurance and auto insurance policies with the company. Other discounts include:

  • Protective device discount. Get up to 15% off if your home has security devices like smoke detectors or burglar alarms.
  • Claims-free discount. Get up to a 20% discount for not filing a claim.
  • Age of construction discount. Depending on your home’s age, you may qualify for up to a 30% discount. Newer is better.
  • Age of insured discount. If you’re age 60 or older, you might qualify for up to a 15% discount.
  • Personal status discount. Married or widowed? You may be eligible for a discount of up to 5%.

Nationwide life insurance and other products

Nationwide life insurance choices include term life, whole life, universal life and variable universal life. You can save by bundling auto, home and life insurance policies with Nationwide.

Nationwide also insures classic cars, motorcycles, snowmobiles, all-terrain and recreational vehicles, boats, personal watercraft and scooters. Other coverage options include business, umbrella, dental and wedding insurance, and even pet insurance.

Nationwide scores quite well in independent ratings for customer satisfaction. It had the second-highest score, 886 out of a possible 1, 000, among 20 companies rated in J.D. Power’s 2015 U.S. Property Claims Satisfaction Study.

In another 2015 J.D. Power study of auto claims customer satisfaction, Nationwide came in fifth out of 24 companies, with a score of 866 out of 1, 000.

Consumer Reports readers rated Nationwide Insurance in the bottom half among 24 insurance companies surveyed. Nationwide ranked about average for price satisfaction.

Website and apps

Nationwide has a useful, easy-to-navigate website. You can find an agent, get an auto insurance quote, pay your bill, manage your accounts, and begin the claims process.

With the Nationwide Mobile app, you can do many of the things you would with a representative or an agent, like pay your bill, get a car insurance quote, or file a claim. The app also helps you contact emergency services, and an Accident Toolkit leads you through what to do after a car accident.

If you’re looking for an insurer with an ample line of insurance products and high customer satisfaction marks, Nationwide is worth considering. If you’re comparing auto insurance quotes, NerdWallet’s comparison tool can help.

NerdWallet is a free tool to find you the best credit cards, cd rates, savings, checking accounts, scholarships, healthcare and airlines. Start here to maximize your rewards or minimize your interest rates.

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