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Root Auto Insurance Review: Good Drivers Can Save Money

Root Insurance puts a modern twist on auto insurance: It uses your phone to track your driving behavior. Your ability to qualify and your insurance rates are based on your behavior during a test-driving period, which means safe drivers can end up saving on insurance.

ProsCons
May offer savings based on good driving habitsNot available in every state
Includes roadside assistance with every policyCan take several weeks to complete the test drive
Sign up and manage your insurance through an appSome drivers won't qualify for coverage
Root Insurance Customer Service

help@joinroot.com

866-980-9431

Experian Review

Launched in 2015, Root is a relatively new insurance company that takes a technology-driven approach to providing coverage. Root does this by collecting information about your driving habits from your phone during an initial "test drive" period. While it's not available everywhere, Root insurance offers auto insurance in most states. It also offers homeowners insurance and renters insurance in several states.

What Car Coverage Does Root Insurance Offer?

You can choose different types and amounts of auto insurance coverage based on your needs. Root offers all of the basics, including:

  • Liability coverage: This coverage pays out if you hurt someone else or damage someone else's property. Liability coverage is required in most states, although the minimum coverage amount varies.
  • Car coverage: These types of coverage can help pay for damage to your vehicle if you get into an accident (collision coverage) or it gets damaged in some other way (comprehensive coverage). Combined, liability, collision and comprehensive coverage coverage are sometimes called "full coverage," which your lender may require if you have an auto loan or lease.
  • Roadside and rental: All Root policies come with roadside assistance, which will cover up to $100 three times per six months (per vehicle) if you need help. The types of assistance could include a tow, jump-start or getting into your locked car. Rental coverage will pay for a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired.
  • Uninsured motorist: In some states, Root offers uninsured motorist property damage, which could cover damage from a hit-and-run or if the other driver isn't insured.
  • Medical coverage: Root offers personal injury protection, medical payments and uninsured or underinsured motorist bodily injury. These coverages can help pay for medical bills and lost wages if you or your passengers are injured. Some states require drivers to carry this type of coverage.

While Root offers all the required types of insurance in each state where it's available, it's up to you to decide how much coverage you want beyond mandated minimums. Finding the right amount of auto insurance can be tricky, as more coverage will reduce your risk but also increase your insurance premiums.

How to Save on Car Insurance With Root

Many insurance companies offer a variety of discounts, such as a discount for taking a defensive driving course, installing anti-theft equipment or being a good student. Root doesn't offer many discounts, except for a bundling discount if you buy auto and renters or homeowners insurance from Root. But that discount only applies to the renters or homeowners policy.

When it does offer discounts, they may be limited promotions and you may have to let the Root app track your driving. But, even without the discounts, Root says some drivers have been able to save up to 52% on their auto insurance by switching to Root. The key to the savings may be how Root determines your rate.

The largest single factor in determining your rate is your driving behavior during a test-drive period, and it accounts for about a third of your rate. The Root app will run in the background on your phone and collect driving data such as when you drive, how hard you hit the brakes, how you make turns and the consistency of your acceleration and braking. Other insurance companies also collect driving data, but most don't use it as a factor unless you agree to install a tracking device in your vehicle.

After your driving behavior, the most important factors determining your rate are your driving records, demographics (such as age and marital status) and your credit history (if your state allows credit-based pricing). Your previous insurance, vehicle type and ZIP code also play a small role in determining your rate.

In contrast, other insurance companies may base their rates largely on your driving record and demographics. This could stick you with a high rate based on factors you can't change, rather than how you actually drive.

How Getting a Quote Works

Unlike with other insurance companies that will give you a quote right away based on your personal and vehicle information, it might be a few weeks until you know exactly how much Root will cost you.

You'll need to start by sharing information about yourself, including your:

  • Name
  • Birthday
  • Address and whether you rent or own
  • Marital status
  • Phone number
  • State and driver's license number
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Whether you have anti-theft equipment in the vehicle
  • Additional drivers, if you want
  • Your age when you first got your license
  • Where you usually drive and average annual miles

You'll then need to create an account and install the Root app, which will run in the background during a test-drive period. You may be offered a temporary policy when you create your account, which can last up to 60 days, or you can simply keep your current insurance policy during the test-drive period.

Once Root gathers enough data, which generally takes about two to three weeks, it can determine if you qualify for auto insurance coverage and give you a quote. If you qualify, you can then purchase or decline the coverage. You can also choose your coverage and deductible amounts and see how the differences impact your premiums.

One important note for drivers in California is that while Root offers auto insurance in your state, it doesn't base rates on data from a test drive.

Can an Auto Insurance Quote Affect Your Credit?

In most states, auto insurance companies can pull your credit and use a credit-based insurance score to help determine your auto insurance premiums. When this happens, a soft inquiry will be added to your credit report as a record that someone reviewed your credit.

However, soft inquiries do not impact your credit scores. Your auto insurance policy also won't appear on your credit report, and making payments on time won't help you build credit. Missing payments could wind up hurting your credit if you miss several payments and the insurer sends your debt to collections.

How Root's Auto Insurance Claims Work

If you get into an accident or notice your car has been damaged, you can quickly file a claim using your phone. After answering questions, you can take and upload pictures of the damage.

Root says the process can take as few as three minutes to initiate a claim using the app. But if you'd prefer, you can call a claims expert during business hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET) at 866-980-8431 to start your claim. The company will review your claim and call you to continue the process. Once the claim is resolved, Root may send you a check or electronically transfer you funds to pay for repairs and bills.

Depending on your coverage, Root may help pay for a rental car if you need one. Additionally, if you're at fault and have collision coverage, it may pay to have your vehicle towed. Otherwise, you'll need to pay if your vehicle has to be towed. If you're not at fault, the other person's insurance should pay for towing.

If you get into an accident with someone else who has Root insurance, you can also file a claim online using their information.

Extra Root Insurance Member Perks

Once you sign up for Root insurance, there are a few additional benefits available to policyholders. For example, you can earn $10 to $100 for each person you refer to Root. The company also gives you free Lyft credits on St. Patrick's Day, Independence Day and New Year's Eve.

Is Root Insurance Right for You?

Root Insurance isn't right for everyone. To start, not everyone can qualify for its auto insurance—one of the ways the company can offer low rates is by being picky about who it insures.

Additionally, Root doesn't offer gap coverage, which can be important if you have an auto loan or lease; doesn't cover motorcycles, ATVs, exotic or commercial vehicles; and won't cover you while you're working as a rideshare driver.

However, if you're a good driver with a car, truck or SUV, it may be worth trying the test drive to see the quote you receive. Particularly if other insurance companies may be charging you a lot based on demographic data, such as your age, marital status or where you live, Root's usage-based insurance may be an effective way for you to save money.

Insurance coverage availability, discounts, limits and other details may vary by state and other factors.

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