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The cost of car insurance varies from one state to the next, and some insurance companies are more popular in some areas than others. Although the most popular insurance companies in an area are not always the cheapest, they often offer something that other companies do not provide. In other cases, they may be locally-run and have deep roots in the community, or they may offer the best value to their customers.
When shopping for a new insurance company, it’s a good idea to take a look at your friends and neighbors to see what insurance they’ve chosen and if it may be the best fit for you. The top auto insurance companies in California by market share for 2011 are:
State Farm – 12.8% market share
The largest insurer by market share in the country, State Farm has been in business since 1922. Since then, it’s become the largest property and casualty mutual company, and ranks 37th in the Fortune 500 listing of largest companies by revenue. It is the parent company of multiple subsidiaries and operates in the United States and Canada.
The Automobile Club – 8.9% market share
Also known as AAA, the Automobile Club of Southern California was founded in 1900. In addition to providing insurance, the club is dedicated to improving roads and driving conditions. It’s also a well-known provider of roadside assistance.
California State Auto Association – 6.8% market share
The northern equivalent of AAA, the CSAA provides coverage to drivers in northern California, Utah and Nevada. The club provides roadside assistance and other club memberships in addition to insurance. Drivers can also obtain membership in either auto club without purchasing insurance through them.
Mercury – 6.6% market share
Founded in 1961, this company is headquartered in Los Angeles and provides affordable insurance to customers who may not be able purchase cheap insurance from another provider. Until 1990, Mercury sold policies solely in California. It now offers insurance in select other states, but predominately areas where major insurers will not offer coverage.
Allstate – 6.3% market share
The second-largest insurer in the country, Allstate offers numerous types of policies to drivers throughout the United States and Canada. The company was founded in 1931 as a subsidiary of Sears and Roebuck, and it maintains corporate headquarters in Northfield, Illinois.
Mid-Century Insurance – 5.3% market share
A subsidiary of Farmer’s insurance, Mid-Century Insurance was founded in 1950. It offers a wider array of coverages and policy types than the main Farmer’s insurance line, which could be key to explaining its popularity.
21st Century – 5.4% market share
Another subsidiary of Farmer’s insurance, 21st Century is headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware. The company was founded in 1958 as an inter-insurance exchange, and its focus was primarily California. This is why the company continues to enjoy massive popularity in California despite being available in 48 states.
Farmer’s Insurance – 4.4% market share
Headquartered in Los Angeles, California, Farmer’s is a major network of subsidiary companies. Farmer’s itself is a subsidiary of Zurich Financial, a foreign company that underwrites numerous financial services in the United States. Nationally, Farmer’s is ranked third in the country for insurance coverage and services as many as 10 million households.
Infinity – 2.2% market share
Headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, Infinity provides affordable insurance to high-risk and non-standard drivers who may have a difficult time purchasing coverage elsewhere due to age, DUI history, type of vehicle or other concerns. The company was formed in 2002 as part of the division of American Financial Group, and it became publicly traded in 2003.
Progressive – 2.1% market share
Founded in 1937, Progressive has recently become a more popular household name due to its aggressive advertising campaign and spunky spokesperson, Flo. The company relies primarily on direct sales, and it’s one of the first companies to offer competitor’s quotes on its website. The company has about 10 million companies in force throughout the country.
Some members of the list, like State Farm, should be no surprise; the market share hold nationwide by that company far exceeds any other insurer. It may be surprising to customers to see just how small of a share Progressive, Geico and other companies hold; although they advertise aggressively, they are still very under-established in the market when compared to older companies.
Whether you choose to purchase insurance from a well-known name in the industry or simply comparison shop for the best deal, you should take the time to research your insurance company before purchasing a policy. Checking reviews from other customers and taking a look at a company’s history can help you determine if it will be the best fit for you and your needs.