Nationwide Auto Insurance Review

Nationwide provides a wide variety of coverage options, but its rates aren’t the most affordable and customers have expressed dissatisfaction with its claims service.

Nationwide offers vehicle coverage options you won’t find with most insurers, like gap coverage, which insures you for the amount you still owe on your car, rather than its assessed value, as well as new car replacement. There’s also a total loss deductible waiver, which eliminates your deductible if your car is totaled. Nationwide doesn’t offer much in the way of discounts, but it has a Family plan, which enables all drivers in a household to share discounts. This is a great option to have, especially if you have a teen driver in your household. Nationwide isn’t for those interested in state minimum coverage, though. It requires you to purchase at least $50,000/$100,000 of bodily injury coverage, which is double what most states require.

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Customers haven’t been thrilled with the service they’ve received from Nationwide and several have taken legal action against the company for failing to pay out claims or covering up evidence of faulty repairs. Consumers have also complained that Nationwide does not use manufacturer parts when repairing vehicles, instead opting for cheaper aftermarket parts. If this is a concern for you, you may want to go with a company that is known for its customer service, like State Farm.

The Specs

Price Varies by location, vehicle and other factors
Best For People interested in extras like gap coverage and new car replacement
Not For People on a budget
Discounts Accident-free
Anti-theft device
Automatic payment
Defensive driving course
Good student
Paperless documents
Partner organization
States Served 50
Years in Business 90
Better Business Bureau Rating A+
A.M. Best Rating A+
Moody’s Rating A1
S&P Rating A+
Standout Features New car replacement
Gap coverage
Family plan
Total loss deductible waiver

The Claim

We’ve all heard the jingle, “Nationwide is on your side.” It promises quality coverage and efficient claims handling at a price that fits easily into your budget. Its agents are standing by 24/7 to assist you in choosing a policy or filing a claim.

Is it True?

Sort of. Nationwide offers excellent vehicle coverage options you won’t find with most insurers. Its gap coverage pays the difference between the actual value of the vehicle and the remaining balance on your loan if it is totaled in a crash. And its total loss deductible waiver means you won’t have to pay a deductible in that situation either.

Nationwide’s rates are slightly above average, and there are few discounts available to help you cut costs. It’s not a good choice for those interested in state minimum coverage because it doesn’t offer limits this low. Nationwide came out nearly $200 more expensive than my cheapest option, Progressive, but that was due in part to Nationwide making me choose bodily injury liability coverage that was double the state minimums. You may be able to get a better deal, but you’ll have to get a quote to find out.

Annual Premium Cost
(State minimum coverage)
Annual Premium Cost
Progressive $230 $284
GEICO $240 $302
State Farm $274 $444
Allstate $386 $474
Nationwide $423 $517

If you are looking to insure multiple drivers in a household – especially if one of them is a teen driver – you’ll love Nationwide’s Family plan. This enables all drivers to share discounts. So, for example, if you get a multi-policy discount for insuring your home and auto through Nationwide, your teen driver will also receive the benefit of that discount. This is a rare offering that you won’t find elsewhere, and it may help make Nationwide’s rates more affordable.

Customer service is where Nationwide really struggles. In the latest J.D. Power auto insurance customer satisfaction survey, Nationwide scored below the regional average in eight out of 11 regions, receiving the lowest score of any company in three of those regions. Price was the biggest factor behind these low ratings, but claims handling also played a role. Nationwide has found itself at the center of several lawsuits in recent years for failing to pay out claims and concealing evidence about faulty repairs. If this is a concern for you, you may want to choose another company, like GEICO.

Our Deep Dive

  • Can’t purchase state minimum coverage: Most states require $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person and $50,000 per accident (written as $25,000/$50,000), but the lowest Nationwide offers is $50,000/$100,000. This won’t be an issue for most people, since the majority of consumers purchase more than state minimum coverage, but if you’re interested in lower coverage limits, you should choose a different company.
  • New car replacement: If your vehicle is less than three years old, you’re eligible for new car replacement. If your car is totaled in an accident, Nationwide will give you the money to purchase a new one, even if it costs more than the depreciated value of your car.
  • Gap coverage: Nationwide is one of the few companies to offer gap coverage, which pays the balance of your loan if your car is totaled in an accident, even if that amount is more than the actual value of your car. Only vehicles less than three years of age are eligible for gap coverage.
  • Savings for families: Nationwide’s Family plan enables all members of the same household to share in discounts. So if one member is eligible for a multi-policy or safe driving discount, all policy members will get these same discounts, whether they qualify on their own or not. This is especially nice for households with teen drivers, as their rates are usually much higher than average.
  • Earn savings for good driving: Nationwide’s SmartRide program uses a small device in your car to monitor your driving. It looks at how much you drive, fast acceleration or braking, and how often you drive at night. If you don’t engage in any risky behaviors, you could be eligible for an additional discount.
  • Total loss deductible waiver: If you add this optional coverage, you won’t have to pay any collision or comprehensive deductible if your car is totaled in an accident.
  • Must pay extra for manufacturer parts: If your vehicle is damaged in an accident, it will be repaired with after-market parts unless you pay extra for special physical damage coverage. This ensures your vehicle will be repaired with only new manufacturer parts.
  • Get help choosing a policy: Nationwide offers a free insurance assessment called the On Your Side Review. You set up an appointment with a Nationwide agent who can help you determine if your current coverage is enough and identify potential savings opportunities you may miss on your own. This is a nice option to have if you’re new to insurance and aren’t sure how much coverage you need.
  • Accident forgiveness: Accident forgiveness is an optional coverage that protects you against rate increases following your first at-fault accident.
  • Vanishing deductible: Every year you go without an accident, Nationwide will reduce your collision deductible by $100, up to a maximum credit of $500.
  • Help if your car breaks down: Nationwide also offers roadside assistance, which is a big help if you get a flat tire, run out of gas, or lock yourself out of your car. If your car needs to be taken to a repair shop, Nationwide will cover the towing and labor costs as well any rental car expenses you incur while waiting for your car to be fixed.
  • Manage your policy anywhere: Mobile apps are available for Android and iOS devices. They enable you to view your policy documents, get a quote, file a claim, and contact a representative or roadside assistance.
  • Identity theft protection: Identity theft protection is available through Nationwide as an optional add-on. This pays for the costs of restoring your identity, including lost wages and child or elderly care.

Cost Rundown

It’s impossible to predict how much your auto insurance will cost you without getting a quote. Insurance companies look at a variety of factors when determining your premiums, including your age, driving record and address. Every company weighs these factors differently, which is why quotes vary from one company to the next.

Before making a purchase, you should get quotes from several companies and compare them, but don’t make a decision based on price alone. Make sure you choose a company that’s financially stable and take a look at its customer satisfaction ratings. Good customer service can do a lot to lessen the headache of filing a claim, so it may be worth paying a little extra for this.

Cheaper (or Free!) Alternatives

All states require drivers to carry auto insurance, and driving without it will eventually cost you a lot more than an insurance premium. If you’re looking to save on your auto insurance, try these tips instead:

  • Inform your insurer of life changes. College graduates and married people are usually quoted lower rates, so let your insurer know of these life changes as soon as they happen.
  • Choose a safe vehicle. Go with something that has high safety ratings and isn’t a known target of car thieves.
  • Work on your credit. Your credit history is used to measure your overall responsibility. A higher score generally translates to lower insurance rates.
  • Spend less time driving. Less time on the road means a lower risk of accidents. Some insurers will even give you a discount if you drive under a certain amount of miles per year.
  • Brush up on your driving skills. Many insurers give discounts to drivers who have taken a defensive driving course within the last three years.
  • Choose a high deductible. This will cost you more out of pocket in the event of an accident, but your premiums will be significantly lower.

The Competition

Progressive: Progressive is a good choice if you’re looking to get a low rate. It doesn’t have as many discounts as some of the other companies on this list, but its premiums are usually pretty affordable to begin with. Like Nationwide, Progressive offers gap coverage, which is a nice option to have if you still have a loan or lease on your car. Customer satisfaction ratings were a little better than Nationwide’s, but still slightly below average.

State Farm: State Farm is one of the best in the industry in terms of customer satisfaction and its rates are reasonable. It doesn’t offer as much in the way of discounts or optional coverages as the other companies listed here, but if you’re looking for a standard auto insurance policy and efficient claims handling, State Farm is hard to beat.

Allstate: Allstate offers several unique rewards for safe drivers, including its Safe Driving Bonus Check, which will return up to 5% of your annual premium if you don’t file any claims. It’s also the only company on this list to offer a claim satisfaction guarantee, which gives you a refund if you’re dissatisfied with the way your claim was handled. Allstate has the most savings opportunities of any company on this list, but despite that, its rates are among the most expensive, so it’s not the best fit if your budget is tight.

GEICO: GEICO is known for its low rates and wide variety of discounts, so it’s a good choice if your main concern is a low premium. It is also the only company on this list to offer mechanical breakdown coverage, which pays for certain repairs that aren’t covered by your collision or comprehensive insurance. In terms of customer service, reviews were mixed, but GEICO consistently scored better than Nationwide and Progressive.

What Others Are Saying

  • Insurance Business America reported that a federal court required Nationwide to pay $8 million for acting in bad faith and failing to pay out a customer’s claim. The accident in question had resulted in a woman’s death and the family sued when Nationwide refused to pay what they were owed. When asked about the case, the family’s lawyer said “Ultimately, the insurer could have avoided the judgement had it agreed to pay its insured’s $100,000 policy limit without any strings attached.”
  • The Morning Call ran a story about a couple who was hit by a Nationwide-insured driver. Nationwide refused to fix the vehicle with manufacturer parts, instead opting for cheaper aftermarket parts. The couple tried to plead with the company, but it wouldn’t give in. The owners expressed their disappointment with Nationwide’s claims handling: “For you, it’s fine…It’s not fine for me because it’s not like it was before the accident.”
  • Insurance Journal reported that Nationwide was fined $18 million by a Pennsylvania judge in 2014 for deliberately concealing information about faulty repairs from consumers. The judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, saying “Fortunately, no one was killed or injured; but Nationwide knew there could be a subsequent accident when it permitted the vehicle to be returned with hidden structural repair failures…This, by definition, is a reckless indifference to its insured. Nationwide was willing to risk the Bergs’ lives to save itself money on a collision claim.”

The Bottom Line

Nationwide offers some unique options that are hard to find elsewhere, like gap coverage, a total loss deductible waiver and its Family plan. However, its rates tend to be above average and customers have reported dissatisfaction with the way claims are handled. If this concerns you, you may want to explore some other options, like GEICO or State Farm.

Find the Best Car Insurance Rates

Enter your ZIP code below and be sure to click at least 2-3 companies to find the very best rate.