Root Insurance offers a technology-focused car insurance solution. While the company's car insurance may be good for safe drivers, those with an imperfect driving history may want to look elsewhere.
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Root is a relative newcomer to the insurance market, selling car insurance,homeowners insurance and renters coverage in a growing number of states. The Columbus, Ohio-based insurance company offers a unique insurance product in the form of usage-based car insurance. It is one of the most prominent companies using telematics to gather information via devices to calculate customer premiums. Rates are then set based on your driving habits and frequency, rather than relying solely on demographic and historical information like your driving record or credit history.
More recently the company has expanded into home and renters coverage, encouraging customers to bundle these coverage types as a way to save money. While the home and renters products are not as prevalent as Root auto insurance, the company has plans for expanding into more regions in the future. Have a look at our Root insurance review below to get an overall sense of the company's performance and customer satisfaction.
Root car insurance review
3.0 Rating from The Zebra
Car insurance is Root's primary focus. The company is one of the early adopters of telematics technology to help assign rates based on driving habits instead of more standard rating factors. In fact, the company aims to discontinue using credit scores — a practice it calls "discriminatory" — by the year 2025. This is a rarity amongst insurers, and shows how Root Insurance aims to try and shake up an industry that is often slow to change.
In general, Root Insurance could be a good option for those with a clean driving history or those who don't drive often. If you don't fit into one of those categories, you may want to look a little more closely before committing to a Root policy. Read on to find out more about what Root Insurance customers can expect and if it's right for you.
One unique feature is that the company also includes roadside assistance in every policy, helping drivers in the event of car trouble. One of the few extra coverages available from Root is rental car coverage. If you purchase this coverage, Root will pay for your rental car or reimburse you for rides through the rideshare company Lyft.
Customers with special coverage needs may find some of these options limiting. However, drivers who only need standard coverage should find Root car insurance options sufficient for most needs.
Root Insurance discounts
Those looking for a number of car insurance discount options are likely to be let down. This is because Root Insurance states that it applies discounts at the onset of your policy. This is done by measuring a driver's habits through the initial test drive. Essentially, this is a safe driver discount. As such, the only real discounts drivers should expect are the following:
If you maintain a good driving record, you may save money as a Root customer. This begins with three years of clean driving, with the possibility of further discounts at the five-year mark.
How does Root car insurance work?
Usage-based car insurance is based on your driving habits
Root is a fast-growing car insurance startup that uses an app to record information about your driving habits — the number of miles you drive, how fast you accelerate or brake, and even what time of day you drive — and provides a quote based on that data. The industry term is "usage-based insurance (UBI)", with the idea that safe drivers who don't put a lot of miles on their car shouldn't pay the same rates as their more reckless colleagues. Like a lot of services today, you give up some personal information in exchange for a low rate.
A report from CB Insights shows that participation in UBI is growing. They've tracked more than 10 insurers who have mentioned telematics or their specific telematics programs in corporate earnings calls since the start of 2018, indicating that driving apps are becoming a bigger strategic priority.
It may seem like an obvious point, but you need to have your phone with you while you drive. Root works by gathering information about your driving habits. It's called telematics, where sensors in your phone to measure your speed, but also when and how long you drive, and whether you make sudden stops and starts along the way.
You also scan in your driver's license (or enter the information manually) so that Root can record your name, address, and vehicle information. After you confirm that info is all correct, you’re ready for the test drive portion to begin.
Here’s a more detailed look, comparing Root’s Great option to a standard plan from State Farm:
$65/month or $290 for six months
$392.34 for six months
Liability: Bodily Injury Limit
Liability: Property Damage Limit
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage
Once you decide on a coverage level that suits you, there are just a few more taps until you’re done. First, you choose a date to begin your policy, which could be as soon as the same day, and decide on a billing cycle: either month-by-month or pay for six months at a time.
A lot of people don’t know that you can cancel your coverage at any time, and some companies will refund you any money that you’ve paid for ahead of time. Root offers to handle the awkward breakup conversation for you, contacting your current insurer and letting them know that you’re switching.
There’s a final screen to confirm all the details, then you’re ready to make your payment and get your new insurance cards mailed to you. Root makes things easy to pay by credit card or even Apple Pay.
Don't worry about letting the Root app handle things. Each step is simple to understand and runs completely in the background. If you're a good driver who doesn't put a lot of miles on their car, Root could be an attractive option for you.
The Hawthorne Effect
What do we do when we know we're being watched?
Studies have shown that if we think we're being watched, we tend to behave more honestly. One name for this is the Hawthorne Effect, from a set of studies done nearly 100 years ago at the Hawthorne Works factory in Cicero, Illinois. More recently, a group of scientists at England's Newcastle University found that people cleaned up their breakroom more often when a poster showing a face or even a pair of eyes was posted nearby.
It may sound creepy, but we are on our best behavior when someone is watching. With smartphone apps like Root tracking our driving habits, companies hope that the feedback we get will help us make safe driving a priority.
Get the insurance you need at the right price.
Root homeowners insurance review
3.0 Rating from The Zebra
If you're already a Root auto insurance customer, the company also provides homeowners insurance through a partnership with Homesite for bundling with your existing policy. Keep in mind that home insurance through Root is not available as a standalone insurance policy — you must first be enrolled in Root's car insurance program to be eligible.
Though the company is seen as financially stable, it receives more customer complaints than average. Customers looking for top-notch customer satisfaction may do well to look into a policy with a more established carrier. In addition, Root homeowners insurance quotes can only be found via the company's mobile app, not its website. Root claims customers who bundle home and auto policies will receive a 10% discount on their home insurance premium.
Root's home insurance partner, homesite, does offer home insurance discounts. However, this coverage is only available as a bundle through Root's app, so it's possible that not all discount options may apply. However, Root Insurance claims customers can save by bundling their home and auto coverage. Further discounts may be available for installed safety features such as sprinkler systems and fire alarms.
Root renters insurance review
Root renters insurance is not as widely available as its car insurance product. However, the company has plans for expansion. The company claims that customers who bundle car and rental insurance can see savings of up to 5%. Root's rental coverage can be broken down into two primary categories: personal property coverage and personal liability, though other coverage types comprise most standard policies. Remember: renters insurance coverage does not cover the physical structure of your home as you do not actually own the property. Read more about Root renters insurance below.
Personal property coverage: This coverage protects your personal belongings if they are damaged, destroyed or stolen. At the onset of your policy, you will be required to set a coverage limit. Keep in mind that using this coverage may be subject to a deductible.
Personal liability coverage: This protects you against damages or injury that you cause to others and their property.
Medical payments: If someone is injured in your rental unit, this coverage will pay up to a set limit to help cover their injuries.
Loss of use: If your rental unit is deemed unlivable, your renters insurance will pay up to a certain amount to cover the cost of lodging and some other expenses.
Cancellations can be done through the Root app or by contacting the insurance provider directly at 1-866-980-9431.
Can I cancel my Root policy online?
Yes, Root allows policy cancellations through their app. For questions, customers can email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 1-866-980-9431 to speak to a representative.
Root Insurance online features and app
Root's mobile app (available for Apple and Android) is the basis of their insurance product. Unlike most major insurance companies, drivers must download the Root app in order to purchase a policy. The app measures your driving habits in order to produce your rate. However, on top of being a telematics program, the app also allows policyholders to do the following:
File and manage claims
Access account information for auto insurance with home, or renters
Root works a little differently than other car insurance companies. Because it measures your driving habits through a mobile app, Root car insurance may not be the best choice for high-risk drivers or those who find themselves driving an excessive amount. Things like hard braking and mileage are measured and incorporated into your insurance rates. However, if you are a relatively safe driver, you might even be able to save money. With a wide range of car insurance coverage options, it could be a good fit for many motorists.
Root is an insurance company that is trying to do things differently. However, that doesn't mean that they will necessarily have the best insurance rates available. Your best bet is to shop around and get as many insurance quotes as possible. The Zebra can help you get quotes from many insurance providers at once, helping you find the best insurance policy for your needs.
Compare insurance rates and find the right policy for you today.
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