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Root Auto Insurance Review: Using Technology to Reward Responsible Driving Behavior

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This auto insurer is a good fit for: People with a good driving record and responsible driving behavior.

Full Root auto insurance review

Pros

  • The better someone drives, the more they save
  • Policyholders don't pay more to cover poor drivers (unlike traditional insurance)
  • Root's premium can save motorists up to $900 per year

Cons

  • Currently only available in 29 states
  • Drivers trade privacy for savings

Root auto insurance at a glance

Root figures out a driver's monthly premium costs with their special app and driving test. Here's how it happens:

  • The driver downloads the Root test drive app.
  • They drive around for a few weeks with the app (or longer if they only drive a few miles a day).
  • The app keeps a scorecard showing how the motorist is doing.
  • The app records things like how gently the driver comes to sudden stops, if they ease into turns, and whether they avoid nighttime driving, for example.
  • At the end of the test drive, the user is given an overall score of up to 10.
  • Root bases the driver's rate primarily on that test drive score.

The company explains it by calling their system "fair," saying that good drivers should not have to pay more to cover the expenses of bad drivers.

Because they insure good to excellent drivers, Roots rates tend to be lower (sometimes considerably lower) than their competitors.

Coverage options:

  • Liability
  • Comprehensive
  • Collision
  • Bodily injury
  • Property damage
  • Rental car
  • Uninsured motorist
  • Roadside assistance
  • Personal injury
  • Medical payments
  • Uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury

Top perks

The better someone drives, the more they save

A driver's premium is based specifically on their driving behavior, so a motorist can adjust that behavior to snag the lowest rates.

Policyholders don't pay higher premiums to cover bad drivers

An individual's rates are determined by Root's driving test. With most insurers, a driver pays a higher premium to protect against the losses incurred by poor drivers.

Drivers can save real money

Root's promise to save a motorist up to $900 a year on auto insurance means more money to save and invest.

What could be improved

May feel a little like "Big Brother"

Root bases its initial premium quote on a driving test, and their app tracks a person's driving behavior day in and day out, unless they shut it off. That means Root knows where a user is whenever they're in the car.

Rates can rise

When it's time for a policy to renew, Root looks at the motorist's driving record for the previous six months. If their driving slipped for any reason, their rates could increase.

Alternatives to consider

If you want to file claims from your phone without having your driving tracked: Progressive stands out from the crowd. Progressive's app lets you do everything, including file claims and make payments, right from your smartphone. In addition, Progressive's discounts can save a driver an average of $130 per year. They also provide one of the most competitive rates for drivers with a single DUI.  

If you're looking for a company with deep discounts: Check out Geico. In addition to low rates, Geico offers some of the best customer service in the business which makes Geico customers a happy bunch. 88% of Geico customers say they would recommend the car insurer to a friend.

Monthly premium costs

There is no specific set premium. But because Root appeals to drivers with good driving records, the average rates are lower than competitors.

Discounts available

Drivers can save money with Root a few ways:

  • Bundle home and auto
  • Stay off the phone when driving
  • Potential premium savings of $900 a year for good drivers

Coverage options

Policy types

  • Liability
  • Comprehensive
  • Collision
  • Bodily injury
  • Property damage
  • Rental car
  • Uninsured motorist
  • Roadside assistance
  • Personal injury
  • Medical payments
  • Uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury

Coverage types

  • Auto
  • Homeowners (in 13 states)
  • Renters (in a few states only)

Customer service and ratings

While the Better Business Bureau gives Root an A+ rating, customers seem less pleased. With 166 reviews, visitors to the BBB site give the company 1.47 out of 5 stars. The majority of complaints involve raised rates and dropped policies.

In December 2020, Root's stock tumbled more than 35% due to falling revenues, reports S&P Global Ratings. Neither S&P Global or A.M. Best have given the company a financial stability rating yet.

This auto insurer is best for:

Root auto insurance is best suited for people who:

  • Are safe drivers and want to benefit financially from their driving behavior
  • Don't mind having their driving habits tracked
  • Enjoy new, innovative ways of doing business

Root readily admits that they're "not for everybody," but for drivers who work with them, there are savings to be had. If you're looking for a better fit, check out our list of the best car insurance companies.

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