Root Car Insurance Review

A usage-based car insurance that tracks your driving habits

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Root Insurance

Root Insurance Company is committed to offering fair car insurance rates to good drivers by using technology and data to determine its customers’ driving patterns. Customers download the Root app, which monitors their driving before the company offers a quote or recommends a coverage package. The company was founded in 2015 as a way to disrupt the insurance industry and does not offer the longevity of more established insurers.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Low rates

  • Rewards good driving

  • Free roadside assistance

Cons
  • Not available in all states

  • Not all drivers qualify

  • Entirely app-based

Key Takeaways
  • Root is a usage-based insurer.
  • To get started with Root, download its app. The app monitors your driving for two to three weeks, after which time the insurer will either reject you as a potential customer or offer you a quote.
  • Root promises to save good drivers up to 52% on their auto insurance.
  • Root’s premiums are based on your driving habits, rather than demographic factors (such as age, gender, credit score, etc.) over which you don’t have control.
Company Overview
  • Year Founded 2015
  • Official Website www.joinroot.com
  • Insurance Offered Auto, homeowners, renters
  • Customer Service 1-866-980-9431, available Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. EST

Pros Explained

  • Low rates Root promotes itself as a low-cost insurance option for good drivers. As the company gives more weight to driving behavior than other insurers, it means good drivers can expect to pay less.
  • Rewards good driving – The app monitors your driving during what’s known as the “driving test.” If the driving test finds that you practice focused driving, smooth braking, gentle turning, and being on the road during safe hours, then you can expect to receive a lower rate.
  • Free roadside assistance Every Root policy comes with this free perk. If you ever get stuck on the side of the road with an empty tank, a flat tire, or an engine problem, Root’s 24-hour roadside assistance will get you the emergency help you need.

Cons Explained

  • Not available in all states Currently, Root is only available in 30 states. Interested customers who live in any of the states not currently offering policies can sign up to be notified when Root becomes available locally.
  • Not all drivers qualify – Root refuses to insure bad drivers, in part because the company claims that 30% of drivers cause nearly 45% of all accidents. This means that drivers with spotty records or less-than-stellar driving habits will not be able to use Root. In addition, in order to qualify for Root, you will have to allow the app to monitor your driving. If you are uncomfortable with this kind of oversight, you will not be eligible for a Root policy.
  • Entirely app-based – Root is set up for customers to handle all of their insurance tasks entirely on the app. If you would like the personal service you’d expect from an insurance agent or even an insurer with a 24/7 phone number, Root may not be the right insurer for you.

In April and May of 2020, Root offered COVID-19 assistance to all customers by giving them the opportunity to save up to 10% on their insurance premiums with the Stay Home Driving Bonus. The 10% savings was given as a credit to customers who enabled the Root app and drove at least 20% less during the months of April and May, staying home more often and helping to flatten the curve. Root also currently provides payment extensions and grace periods to any customers affected by non-weather-related emergencies. The specifics of the offered extensions and grace periods vary by state, and customers must check the Root website to determine the options available to them.

Root Car Insurance Coverage

When you get a policy with Root, you can expect the following coverages:

Liability Coverage

Root’s liability coverages are as follows:

  • Bodily Injury Liability – If you cause an accident that results in the bodily injury or death of another person, this kind of coverage can help pay for the associated costs.
  • Property Damage Liability – This kind of liability can help pay for the costs associated with property damage caused by an accident where you are at fault.

Root customers can customize their policies by choosing their bodily injury and property damage liability limits, which is the maximum amount of money the insurer will pay per accident. Liability coverage is required in all states where Root currently sells policies.

Collision Coverage

If your car is damaged because of an accident, collision coverage will help to pay for repairing or replacing your vehicle no matter who is at fault. It is often required for leased vehicles or any cars that are paid for via a loan, but drivers who own their cars free and clear may choose to forgo this type of coverage if they feel confident that they can cover any repair costs out of pocket.

Comprehensive Coverage

Comprehensive coverage can help you pay to repair or replace your car when it is damaged because of something other than an accident. While leased vehicles may be required to carry it, most drivers generally do not have to. Root recommends that customers ask themselves if they could afford to replace a stolen or totaled car out of pocket to help determine if comprehensive coverage is right for them.

Rental Reimbursement Coverage

When your car gets damaged in an accident and needs repairs, you will need an alternate mode of transportation. Root’s optional rental reimbursement coverage will help pay for a rental car while your car is in the shop.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

This kind of coverage can help you pay for property damage and medical expenses if you get into an accident where an uninsured or underinsured motorist is at fault. Uninsured motorist coverage is required in 19 states and the District of Columbia, while underinsured coverage is only required in a few states. Root offers guidance to help customers decide if they need these coverages.

Root Car Insurance Discounts

Unlike other insurers, Root does not offer a menu of potential discounts. Instead, the company builds your discounts into your policy quote, meaning you can trust that the quote you receive is for the lowest price available.

However, Root does offer a referral bonus to customers. If you refer a friend, and they take the driving test and receive a quote, both you and the referred customer will receive a cash payment. Customers can earn up to $1,000 per year by referring friends to Root.

Root Car Insurance Availability

Root does not yet have a presence in all 50 states. As of this writing, there is no Root availability in the following 14 states:

  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Additionally, though Root will soon be available in the following six states (plus the District of Columbia), it is not yet up and running for customers to purchase policies.

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • Massachusetts
  • North Carolina
  • Washington

Root Customer Service

As an app-based insurer, Root funnels customers through the app for the majority of customer service issues. The app is where your insurance card is stored (although Root will also mail you a paper card), where you file a claim, and how you can refer a friend to receive a cash bonus. The app is available for iOS and some Android devices. The Root app enjoys a 4.7 out of 5 star rating on Apple, but only a 3.9 out of 5 star rating on Google Play. 

Customers can also access their account via the Root website, where they can file a claim and search for answers to frequently asked questions. If you need to speak to a live customer service representative, Root does offer a toll-free number. You can call 866-980-9431 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET for any general queries. If you need to talk to someone about a claim, you can call 866-980-9431 about a new claim or 866-489-1985 about an existing one Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.

As Root was only founded in 2015, it is not yet rated by AM Best, which rates insurers on financial strength. This kind of rating is an important facet of choosing an insurer, as customers want to know that their insurance company is financially stable and will be there for them if they need to make a claim. The fact that Root is not rated by AM Best may give some potential customers pause.

Another important aspect of understanding a company’s customer service record is knowing how many complaints are lodged against it. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) compiles consumer complaints about insurers and compares that information with the industry average. NAIC sets the industry average complaints at 1.0, meaning a company with a score of 0.5 has half the number of complaints as the average. Root Insurance Company currently has a score of 5.36, meaning it receives nearly five-and-a-half times the average number of complaints compared with the industry average, which is definitely enough to give a person pause.

Other Insurance Provided by Root

Though Root is primarily an auto insurance provider, it also offers both homeowners and renter’s policies.

How to Make a Car Insurance Claim with Root

Root customers can easily file a claim on the app or via the website. The site asserts that filing a claim takes about three minutes no matter which way you choose.

If using the app, you will simply answer a few questions about the accident, then take some pictures and submit the claim. Root will handle the process from there, reaching out to you to complete the claim. The claims process online is not clearly spelled out on the website, but it will presumably follow a similar set of steps.

Root will send you either a paper check or an electronic payment to pay for your claim. It will not pay the repair shop directly. It’s also important to note that Root’s roadside assistance does not cover a tow truck in case of an accident. If another driver is at fault, their insurance should cover the cost of your tow, and if you are at fault, your collision coverage will pay for it. If you do not carry collision coverage, however, you will be required to pay for the tow out of pocket.

Root Car Insurance Cancellation Policy

Root’s website does not clearly spell out the steps required to cancel a policy. The only indication of how to cancel is on the “terms and conditions” page, which states the following: “Termination or cancellation of an insurance policy with Root is governed by the various state insurance laws and regulations.”

This may be sticky for some customers, as Root insurance is set up to automatically renew every six months. That said, as premiums may adjust with each six-month policy, Root does alert you of your policy price prior to each renewal. You will have time to cancel the upcoming policy if you so choose.

Get a Root Car Insurance Quote

To get a quote, you will start by answering a few question on Root’s website. Once you have provided your name, birthdate, address, marital status, and cars to insure, it will be time to download the Root app. With the app set up on your smartphone, you begin the test drive, which will take approximately two to three weeks. If Root is willing to offer you a policy, the company will then contact you with a quote.

Compare Other Car Insurance Reviews

It’s generally accepted that getting multiple auto insurance quotes is the best practice to ensure that you are getting top value for your policy needs. As Root determines its quotes through the driving test, customers interested in comparing their rates with other insurers will need to do some advance planning, as it’s not possible to simply get a quote from Root in an afternoon like you can with other insurance companies.

Just because Root claims to save good drivers up to 52% doesn’t mean you should take the company’s word for it. Comparing the policies and prices offered by Root with similar policies offered by other companies will be the best way to determine if you’re getting the coverage and value you need.

Verdict

Root Insurance Company is a disruptor in the auto insurance industry, and it aims to offer low costs, transparency, and more value to good drivers. However, as a newcomer to the insurance business, Root does not have a lengthy history of financial stability, good customer service, or customer satisfaction, so potential customers will have to rely more on the company’s claims about itself than on trusted ratings. While the potential for cost savings for excellent drivers may be tempting to many customers, the requirement that your driving be monitored, the youth of the company, and its high NAIC complaint ratio may be worrisome to others.

Methodology

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  2. Insurance Information Institute. "Background on: Compulsory Auto/Uninsured Motorists: Other Solutions to the Uninsured Motorist Problem." Accessed Sept. 17, 2020.

  3. Apple.com. "Root: Affordable car insurance." Accessed Sept. 17, 2020.

  4. Google.com. "Root Car Insurance: Good drivers save money." Accessed Sept. 17, 2020.

  5. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "Root Ins Co National Complaint Index Report." Accessed Sept. 17, 2020.