Root auto insurance review: Rates based on how you drive

Man driving his car, smiling and looking out the window Image: Man driving his car, smiling and looking out the window

In a Nutshell

Root puts a unique spin on buying auto insurance coverage by analyzing drivers’ habits behind the wheel before giving them a quote. But if you aren’t the safest driver, you may not qualify for a policy. Policies are available for good drivers needing a variety of coverage options — but note that Root is currently offered in only 30 states.

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Some of the coverage options or discounts listed in this article may not be available in your state. Check with the insurance company to find out what’s available to you.

Pros Cons
Premiums based on how you drive Not available in every state
Roadside assistance included in every policy Not everyone qualifies for coverage
Ability to file a claim quickly High rate of customer complaints

What you need to know about Root auto insurance

Based in Columbus, Ohio, Root Insurance is the country’s first entirely mobile-based insurance carrier. The company offers both auto and renters insurance.

Premiums based on how you drive

According to Root, policy premiums are based largely on your driving behavior. Through its mobile app, Root will use your smartphone’s sensors to gather data about your behind-the-wheel habits during a two- to three-week virtual test drive. After your data is analyzed, Root may offer you a personalized quote.

But if you’re deemed a bad driver — either according to your driving history or data gathered through your Root test drive — you won’t be offered a policy. By not insuring high-risk drivers, Root claims it’s able to save good drivers up to 52% on your premium.

Policy management done solely through the app

The test drive, insurance quote, payments and any claims are all done through the Root app (the company doesn’t have insurance agents), so you’ll need to make sure the app is compatible with your phone. Root says on its website that the app should work with iPhone models 5S or newer and most Android phones.

If you ever need to file a claim with Root, you can do it quickly online or through the mobile app in roughly three minutes, according to Root.

High number of customer complaints

Root Insurance’s number of customer complaints in 2019 was more than twice as high as the usual for insurance companies of its size in the market, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Every policy includes roadside assistance

In most states, Root includes free roadside assistance coverage with each auto insurance policy. Any service under $100 is covered for up to three times per vehicle during each six-month policy term. This coverage is not free for California drivers, however.

A closer look at Root auto insurance

Here are a few other things to know if you’re considering Root auto insurance.

  • Availability — Root insurance is only available in 30 states, though the company plans to expand soon into seven additional states and Washington, D.C. Among the states where Root offers auto insurance are some of the largest. Root offers insurance in Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas and Utah.
  • Coverage options — Root offers standard auto insurance options, including property damage and bodily injury liability, comprehensive, collision, uninsured motorist, personal injury protection, medical payments and rental car coverage. If you buy rental car coverage, the cost of your rental car will be covered, up to your policy limit, while your own car is being repaired — or you can use choose to use a rideshare service like Lyft.
  • SR-22 forms — Root provides SR-22 forms upon request if you’re required to show proof of insurance coverage.
  • Referral program — Through Root’s referral program, you could earn up to $1,000 per year in cash bonuses if you refer friends who take a test drive and qualify for a policy. But keep in mind that this program isn’t available in all states.

Is a Root auto insurance policy a good fit for you?

Root auto insurance might be a good option if you’re a safe driver who can qualify for coverage at a lower rate than you’re currently paying. It may also be ideal if you’re tech-savvy and like the idea of managing your policy entirely on a mobile app.

But if you don’t live in a state where Root offers insurance, don’t have the best driving habits or prefer service from an insurance company agent, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

How to get an auto insurance quote from Root

The process of getting a quote through Root is a bit more involved than with other car insurance companies. But it can pay off — the test drive allows Root to not only gauge whether you qualify for a policy but also how much it can save you on your insurance rate.

You can begin your Root quote request at joinroot.com or by downloading its mobile app, which is available through the App Store or Google Play. You can then sign up in less than a minute and begin your test drive period.

Before you decide to buy a Root policy, it’s smart to shop around. This allows you to gather and compare coverage options and rates from different insurance companies to help make sure you pick the policy that’s best for you.

Not sure if an auto insurance policy from Root is right for you? Consider these alternatives.

If you’re not sure whether Root car insurance is the right fit for you — or don’t live in a state where it’s available — here are some other auto insurance companies that you might want to consider.

  • Farmers Insurance: Farmers Insurance could be ideal if you want a range of auto insurance coverage options.
  • Geico auto insurance: Geico could be a good option if you want a bunch of opportunities to potentially get discounts on your policy.