Root Insurance's main strength is its low rates: the insurance company says it offers the potential to save up to 52% on auto insurance premiums over competitors. Root claims that it can offer lower premiums because it tracks and weighs driver behavior more heavily than other factors compared to its competitors, potentially making it a better option for traditionally high-risk drivers (think: young drivers or drivers with poor credit) with good driving habits. Root is a legitimate insurance company that says it only insures safe drivers to keep rates low.
Additionally, those who are app-savvy and don't mind their driving habits being tracked might find Root particularly useful since it functions primarily through its smartphone app.
If you need more specific coverage, such as collector and classic car or GAP coverage, Root may not be right for you since these coverages aren't currently available. And if you don't live in one of the 29 states it operates in, Root won't be an option.
In this review, we'll touch on:
- Root car insurance: cheap for good drivers who need no-frills coverage
- Root car insurance customer and claims reviews
- Root car insurance is available in 29 states
- How does Root car insurance work?
- Root car insurance offers standard coverage and free roadside assistance
Root car insurance offers competitive rates for good drivers and has average reviews
Root claims to offer rates that are up to, or even more than, 52% cheaper than other car insurance companies. Drivers with good driving histories but statistically bad driver profiles, like people with poor credit or young drivers, can potentially save money with Root. Root says it only offers quotes to safe drivers, and by doing so, they claim that they have to pay for almost 45% fewer accidents. Here's their logic:
- Filtering out bad drivers means Root pays fewer claims.
- Paying fewer claims means Root can offer competitive rates.
Root car insurance could be cheaper for good drivers and high-risk drivers
Because Root cares less compared to other insurers about your age, credit history and other demographics that don't have to do with driving behavior, you might find a competitive rate with Root if you're a good driver with some high-risk indicators.
Root could be the best value for you if:
- You're a young driver.
- You have bad credit.
- You fall into any demographic that makes you a high-risk driver, but you have good driving habits.
- You don't mind using an app for claims, policy changes and anything else car-insurance-related.
In the end, your rate is highly personalized and unique to you. Root could be a potential option for safe drivers to save money, but it may not necessarily be the cheapest option for you. Other insurance companies also offer programs that track your driving behavior to potentially reduce your rates.
|Insurance company||Driving behavior program||Potential discount|
|Allstate||Drivewise||3% discount for signing up, 15% discount after first 50 trips|
|Esurance||DriveSense||$100 average discount|
|Nationwide||SmartRide||10% discount for signing up, and up to a 40% discount after|
|Progressive||Snapshot||$145 average discount|
|Safeco||RightTrack||Guaranteed savings between 5% and 30%|
|State Farm||Drive Safe & Save||Save up to 30% and at least 5% for signing up|
You might qualify for discounts or just get a better rate elsewhere. Make sure to shop around for quotes to find the right car insurance for you.
Root car insurance reviews: no red flags, but slightly high customer complaints
Root has a slightly high complaint index score of 1.05, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. A score above 1.0 means a company has higher complaints than average for an insurer of its size. Because Root is a relatively small insurer, its complaint index score was created from only seven complaints. While Root's NAIC complaint index score is above average, it isn't alarming.
When we analyzed customer reviews and complaints of Root, most encompassed two issues: rising premiums and long test-drive periods to obtain a quote.
- Test drives can easily take two weeks or more. If you drive infrequently, the test drive can take over a month. Find more information about Root's test drives below.
- Premiums can increase after a six-month term, even if your driving behavior doesn't change. However, this complaint is not unique to Root. Premiums can always change due to market factors, which is why it is important to shop around frequently.
Across Root's claims reviews, most support the company's promise of speedy resolution. Root says it pays out claims in seven to 10 business days.
Root car insurance might be cheap, but it isn't available everywhere and hasn't been around for long
The primary downside of Root is its age and limited availability. Because Root was established somewhat recently, in 2015, and is only available in 29 states, it doesn't have any financial stability ratings yet. Although Root has a shorter track record of paying out claims than other major insurers, there is no risk with Root being able to pay out claims in the future.
Additionally, because Root currently has limited coverage across states, you likely won't be able to bundle your policies and potentially get a discount. Root does not offer homeowners insurance, so you won't be able to bundle home and auto insurance policies for a discount. Root does have renters insurance in Utah, Missouri and Ohio, and it offers the ability to bundle car and renters insurance in these states.
While Root only currently operates in 29 states, it plans to expand further in 2020. Root car insurance is available in:
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
How does Root car insurance work?
Whether you're getting a quote, starting a policy or filing a claim, Root conducts business mainly through its app. The company also uses its app to measure your driving behavior and then offers you a quote if it considers you a safe driver.
Get a Root car insurance quote by doing a test drive
The only way to find out your Root car insurance rate is to download the app and conduct a two- to three-week test drive. The app tracks driver behavior, which includes:
- What time of day you drive
- Braking and turning habits
- Adherence to speed limits
- Speed of turns
- Route consistency
- Miles driven
To start the test drive, you need to:
- Download the Root app
- Sign up
- Keep your phone on as you drive
During the test-drive period, you'll be able to see your driver scorecard once you complete enough driving time. The scorecard shows you how safe of a driver the company considers you.
If you want to add others to your Root policy, they don't need to take the test drive. Root increases your premium for additional drivers on your policy based on their other demographics and factors. Your rates will most likely be lower if they take the test drive. You can add others to your policy through the app.
Root car insurance calculates your premium by weighing driving behaviors more heavily than other companies
To keep its rates low, Root only offers you a quote if you have good driving behavior and if it considers you a safe driver. Root says it only insures safe drivers, so some drivers who do the test drive will not get a quote from Root. Those who do get a quote may find cheaper rates compared to a traditional insurer.
Root does consider the common demographics that other car insurance companies use to determine rates. Root simply puts more emphasis on your driving score, determined from your driving behavior, than these other factors. If you are approved after the test drive, Root will give you a quote based on your driving habits and other commonly used criteria such as your location, prior insurance, age and other factors.
Root claims to use artificial intelligence to ensure that it only considers the times when you're in the driver's seat, not when you're a passenger or on a bus, for example. However, Root tracks the times when you drive, even if it's for work. This shouldn't affect your score significantly, but Root says it's working to change this in the future.
You can manage your policy entirely through Root's convenient app
If Root offers you a quote after your test drive, you can purchase your policy right through the app using a credit card or Apple Pay. From there, you can customize your coverage and add others to your policy. Root can even cancel your current insurance for you through the app.
You can either pay monthly or for a six-month period. If you pay monthly, your payment will be charged automatically. Once you choose a policy, you'll be charged immediately. You can start your policy within 60 days of payment.
Monthly, your payment date can be flexible. You can request to pay up to five days early or five days late.
You can also renew your policy with Root after six months through the app. Your premium could change at the point of renewal based on many factors, including your own driving record and market changes, among others.
Root's policies include standard car insurance coverage with free roadside assistance
Root offers all forms of necessary car insurance that are standard among car insurance companies. You can get full-coverage car insurance through Root by purchasing liability, collision and comprehensive coverages. If you need specialized coverage, such as GAP coverage, motorcycle insurance or insurance for your collectible car, Root may not be right for you since these options aren't currently available.
- Liability coverage (bodily injury coverage and property damage coverage).
- Collision coverage
- Comprehensive coverage
- Rental car reimbursement
- Uninsured motorist property damage
- uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage
- Personal injury protection
- Medical payments
- Roadside assistance
What's unique about Root's coverage:
- You get free roadside assistance with every policy (up to $100 per claim, with three claims per vehicle maximum in a six-month period), which you won't find with most other providers.
- You can get reimbursed for a rental car and/or Lyft rides when your car is in the shop or totaled.
Root does not offer some special coverages typically offered by large insurers, such as:
- GAP insurance.
- New car replacement coverage
- Sound system coverage
- Accident forgiveness
Bottom line: try to get a quote from Root and other car insurance companies
Give Root's test drive a try — you have nothing to lose, and it is a legitimate car insurance company. Don't wait until the last minute to get a quote, since it can take a few weeks to get one, and don't be surprised if you don't qualify for Root. Only select safe drivers will get a quote. Those with bad credit or young drivers should especially consider Root.
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