Daily Archive: January 5, 2018

Jan
05

As a 2-State Solution Loses Steam, a 1-State Plan Gains Traction

Some Israeli and Palestinian leaders are now pressing for a single state, but their views of what that state would look like are mutually exclusive.

Jan
05

Wall Street and FTSE 100 hit new highs as bull market shakes off US jobs report – as it happened

Shares keep rallying even though the latest American Non-Farm Payroll is mediocre, with fewer new jobs created than expected

Summary: Market melt-up continuesWall Street up again!Breaking: US created 148,000 jobs in December, fewer than expectedRetailers cut 20,000 jobsWages rose by 2.5% per year, as forecastUnemployment rate sticks at 4.1%, a 17-year low…but underemployment has risen

10.02pm GMT

And finally…. the Dow Jones has continued to ‘melt-up’ with aplomb.

8.40pm GMT

Hello again. Marketwatch has an interesting explanation for the market rally:

Investors are feeling good about the U.S. stock market. In fact, they haven’t felt this good in years.

The latest AAII investor sentiment survey, conducted on Jan. 3., indicates that 59.8% of polled investors are bullish on the market, meaning they expect prices will be higher in six months. That’s the highest level in about seven years, since a reading of 63.3% on Dec. 23, 2010, and it is significantly above the 38.5% historical average. The number of bullish investors has gone up by 7.1 percentage points in the past week alone.

5.00pm GMT

OK, time for a recap.

The global stock market rally has driven Britain and America’s stock markets to fresh highs today, despite an underwhelming employment report from the US.

The headline numbers suggest that the jobs market remains strong. The labor department announced that the unemployment rate held steady at 4.1% in December, close to a 17-year low.

The US economy has now added more than 2m jobs a year for seven straight years, a run last seen in the 1990s. But the pace of hiring has slowed, the recovery remains uneven, and wages continue to lag behind growth.

Related: US job growth slows as economy adds modest 148,000 December jobs

4.48pm GMT

Boom! The FTSE 100 has ended the week at a new all-time high.

The blue-chip index of the biggest companies listed in London has closed at 7724 – the first time it has finished over the 7700 mark.

4.09pm GMT

I missed this detail earlier, but the opening bell of the New York stock exchange was rung by a professional bull rider – J.B. Mauney.

This honour was to mark the 25 anniversary of Professional Bull Riders (an enterprise devoted to the noble art of not falling off a 2000 pound bull with a temper).

4.01pm GMT

With 30 minutes to go, London’s stock market could end the week at a new record high.

The FTSE has dropped back from this morning’s intraday peaks, but is still 11 points higher than yesterday’s record close, at 7707 points.

3.54pm GMT

Here’s a nice summary of the US jobs report:

U.S. hiring slows at end of 2017 as job gains slacken to 148,000 in December https://t.co/itK8l6bltM pic.twitter.com/WCmzHI6ukG

3.45pm GMT

Just in: German lender Deutsche Bank says Donald Trump’s tax reform package will cost it €1.5bn.

This makes Deutsche Bank the latest in a string of major companies to announce that their deferred tax assets are less valuable, now that America’s corporation tax rate is being cut from 35% to 21%.

Deutsche Bank shares at session low after company says it “expects to recognize an approximate €1.5B non-cash tax charge” in its Q4 results due to U.S. tax reform. https://t.co/QPrwouAAgT pic.twitter.com/3WvxBHkoaw

3.17pm GMT

MSNBC’s Steve Benen have calculated that US job creation slowed last year – the first 12 months of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Benen writes:

Now that we have data for all of the previous calendar year, we can note that the U.S. added 1.84 million jobs in 2011, 2.19 million jobs in 2012, 2.33 million in 2013, 3.11 million in 2014, 2.74 million in 2015, 2.24 million in 2016, and 2.05 million in 2017.

Or put another way, while Donald Trump’s first year as president has been pretty good overall for job creation, Americans nevertheless saw the slowest job growth in six years.

Job growth wasn’t bad in Trump’s 1st year in office, but it did slow to a six-year low. Job totals by year:
2011: 1.84m
2012: 2.19m
2013: 2.33m
2014: 3.11m
2015: 2.74m
2016: 2.24m
2017: 2.05mhttps://t.co/E8dQJwfiRi

3.09pm GMT

Newsflash: US factory orders rose by 1.3% in November, beating the consensus forecast of 1.1% growth.

That’s up from 0.4% in October, and the fourth monthly rise in a row. American factories reported rising demand for transportation and electrical equipment.

*U.S. ISM NON-MANUFACTURING INDEX DROPS TO A FOUR-MONTH LOW

2.38pm GMT

Boom! The US stock market has hit fresh record highs (yet again) at the start of trading in New York.

Traders are shrugging off the news that America’s job creation slowed last month.

“Surprisingly, Wall Street shook off the lower than expected jobs data and rose still higher, although the Dollar fell 0.3% versus the Euro and 0.26% versus the Pound on the news.

December’s Non-Farm Payrolls data does not fit the current narrative of booming US growth. The initial reaction from the market is to ignore. That could be perilous.

2.29pm GMT

The good news is that America’s economy has now created jobs for 87 months in a row – dating back to early in Barack Obama’s first term as president.

That has helped to pull the jobless rate down to its lowest since the end of 2000, at just 4.1%.

“2017 has been an extraordinary year for the US labour market, with around 200K jobs added every month, leading the Unemployment Rate to its lowest point in 16 years. The fact that we now see a slowdown can be more of a sign of employers not being able to find qualified personnel, than it is an indicator of weakness in the US economy.

Despite the fact that the Hourly Earnings Growth remains soft, this can report can still be a nudge for the Federal Reserve in the direction of hiking the rates.

2.22pm GMT

The 148,000 increase in the US non-farm payroll last month was “slightly disappointing’, says Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics.

He also singles out the drop in retail employment:

Looking at the December gain in detail, manufacturing had a strong month, adding 25,000 jobs. Given the strength of the global economy, the decline in the dollar and the recent strength evident in the surveys, we can expect further factory job gains in the next few months.

The obvious weakness was in retail, which shed 20,300 jobs. That could be just noise or a consequence of the shift from bricks and mortar stores to online. As a comparison, couriers & messengers added only 2,100 jobs, so in net terms the structural shift is hardly positive for employmen

2.09pm GMT

Kully Samra, UK Managing Director at Charles Schwab, says:

“The US economy ended on a mixed note in 2017.

However, despite disappointing job numbers, over the year average hourly earnings have risen by 2.5%. In addition, we have seen the economy grow quarter on quarter, manufacturing and services indices rise and other factors such as business confidence and housing are also picking up.

2.04pm GMT

Here’s Ian Kernohan, economist at Royal London Asset Management, on today’s Non-Farm Payroll:

“There was something for everyone in the latest US Labour Market Report. On the one hand, employment growth slipped below 200,000 after a couple of strong months, while on the other, the headline rate of unemployment remained very low at just 4.1%, on an unchanged participation rate. Wage growth ticked higher to 2.5%, still a very modest rate despite the sharp fall in unemployment over the past few years.

“The Federal Reserve puts much more weight on labour market data than on any other information, including the volatile and often misleading early estimates for GDP. Most survey based indicators of economic growth are strong in the US, and while the current severe weather is bound to impact economic activity in Q1, the Fed tend to look through these events, and are still on track to raise interest rates once again in March.”

1.54pm GMT

Jobs site Indeed.com have made a handy charts showing where jobs were created, or destroyed, last month across the US economy:

Construction and information led job growth in December, with manufacturing picking up steam. Retail lost jobs — again. pic.twitter.com/VcicEJOYZb

1.53pm GMT

Ben Casselman of the New York Times is also worried by the fall in retail jobs

Weird few months for retail. But the big picture is clear: big job losses in a huge sector for (mostly low-wage) employment. pic.twitter.com/XQJNCwBrKE

1.48pm GMT

Seth Harris, who was deputy US labor secretary under president Obama, is concerned by the rise in under-employment (the U-6 rate).

He tweets:

#Jobs report toplines: 1. Fewer jobs in Dec. means little. 2. 2d month U-6 increased; growth in involuntary part-time concerning 3. #Wages=disappointing 2.5% nominal increase/year, meager 0.3% real increase 4. Middle-wage industries growing (mfring, constr’n); retail shrinking.

1.45pm GMT

Yikes! America’s retail sector cut around 20,000 jobs last month, according to today’s non-farm payroll.

That could be proof that the rise of internet shopping is forcing Main Street stores to cut back.

The Amazon effect? Retail jobs down 20K in December and 67K for the full year.

The retail apocalypse carries on. It dropped 20k jobs in December, adding up to 67,000 total jobs lost in 2017. It added 203k jobs in 2016.

1.39pm GMT

Worryingly, the US under-employment rate rose to 8.1% in December, from 8.0% in October.

That means more Americans wanted to work more hours than they were able.

1.37pm GMT

In better news, November’s non-farm payroll has been revised up to show 252,000 new jobs were created (up from 228,000).

But what the revisions give with one hand, they take with the other. October’s NFP has been revised down to 211,000, from 244,000.

1.34pm GMT

Instant reaction – this isn’t a great jobs report. It’s not a disaster either.

Mediocre numbers.

Jobs comes in at just 148K.
Wages come in in line, but last month revised a tick lower.

Unemployment steady but underemployment ticks higher. https://t.co/lr58ZiB7v6

Ouch

1.33pm GMT

On wages….. earnings rose by 2.5% per year in December, as expected.

But November’s wage data has been revised down, to 2.4% (from 2.5%).

1.30pm GMT

Breaking! The US economy created 148,000 new jobs in December.

That’s rather less than the 190,000 which economists had predicted.

1.27pm GMT

No argument….

This is definitely going to be the most exciting 2017 NFP report of 2018.

1.25pm GMT

Just five minutes to go, and the excitement is building….

#EYETWITCHES

1.18pm GMT

The US jobs report is notoriously hard to predict, and invariably revised sometime in the future.

But the Non-Farm Payroll is still one of the most eagerly awaited pieces of economic data in the calendar, as it gives an insight into how the world’s largest labo(u)r market is performing.

Today is the day- the most important economic data, the US Non-Farm Payroll number, on the face of the earth will reveal its colour.

This number sets the trading tone and the trend for the rest of the month for traders. Today’s number would provide us significant clues if the moderate growth in the US economy has left any impact on the jobs market, most importantly on the wage growth. Since the financial recession, the jobs market has been strengthening and this momentum was set by former President Barak Obama and Mr Trump is reaping the rewards.

1.02pm GMT

World stock markets are at record levels today, partly thanks to Britain’s FTSE 100 hitting new heights this morning.

Another day, another record high for world stocks, as a growing sense of optimism over the global economy boosts risk sentiment.

Asian shares ventured higher during early trading on Friday, while European markets opened on a positive note amid the risk-on environment. With the Dow Jones Industrial Average surpassing 25,000 for the first time ever on Thursday, U.S equity bulls are clearly back in town and as such, we could see further gains on Wall Street this afternoon.

12.55pm GMT

Investors on both side of the Atlantic are bracing for the latest US jobs report to hit the wires, in 35 minutes time.

December’s Non-Farm Payroll is expected to show that America’s economy created around 190,000 new jobs last month, leaving the unemployment rate at just 4.1%.

US NFP (Dec) 1330GMT

UBS 205k
Credit Suisse 200k
RBC 200k
Scotia 200k
SocGen 200k
HSBC 195k
Exp. 190k
Commerzbank 190k
Lloyds 190k
MS 190k
Nomura 190k
BofA 185k
DB 185k
Citi 180k
Well Fargo 180k
BNP 175k
GS 175k
JPM 175k
ING 170k

We’ve been promised higher inflation and wage growth for some time and investors are increasingly not buying it.

Even some policy makers are starting to question why nothing has not materialised and should that continue, rate hike forecasts will start to slip, especially with interest rates now already elevated. Today’s jobs report should offer some insight on this, with average earnings having arguably become the most important component of it. Still earnings are only expected to have risen by 2.5% compared to a year ago, below last year’s peak and well below where they need to be for inflation to sustainably return to target.

#NFPGuesses Beats consensus, Dow pops, Trump tweets

12.32pm GMT

The Labour Party is also voicing concerns about the drop in UK car sales last year.

“The Government’s mismanagement of the economy and mishandling of the Brexit negotiations has shaken consumer and business confidence and it’s concerning that the sales of new cars are falling.

“The industry has been warning the Government time and time again and, as has become typical with the Tories, they have failed to listen or take action.

12.27pm GMT

Here’s our financial editor, Nils Pratley, on the idea that markets are in a melt-up phase:

Related: ‘Melt-up’ coinage could signal last hurrah for US stock market

12.22pm GMT

Over in the City, the FTSE 100 index has climbed to new heights.

It just hit 7727 points for the first time, up 0.4% or 31 points today, as the global stock market rally continues to bubble away.

Since coming back from New Year, the phrase I’ve heard most is ‘melt up’.

There’s been a strong start to the year, and there are good reasons for that – the data is staying barn-stormingly strong.

I was a guest host on @bsurveillance earlier with @flacqua and @tomkeene talking about bullish markets, the global economy and political risks, especially US trade policy https://t.co/vRXKBPbu7m

11.52am GMT

The US president is up early, and wasted no time in tweeting about the bull market:

Dow goes from 18,589 on November 9, 2016, to 25,075 today, for a new all-time Record. Jumped 1000 points in last 5 weeks, Record fastest 1000 point move in history. This is all about the Make America Great Again agenda! Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. Six trillion dollars in value created!

CNBC banging on about the fastest ever 1,000 point Dow rise in history. Obviously, by definition also the smallest percentage 1,000 point rise in history at only 4.17%. #marketsasshowbiz #lowquality

11.32am GMT

While diesel sales slumped by 17% last year, sales of alternatively-fuelled vehicles jumped by almost 35% as more people bought electric cars.

“Sales of diesel cars are falling but sales of EVs and hybrids are growing at double-digit rates. Consumers are sending a clear message to the car industry that it’s time to move on from polluting diesel and the industry should listen to it.

Diesel cars have been fuelling a major air pollution crisis that has made our cities’ air toxic and harmful to breathe. EVs and hybrids are better for both air quality and the climate. If the UK car industry fails to invest in the technologies that consumers want then they’ll be left behind in the race for this trillion-dollar market.”

11.17am GMT

Back to cars, and Ana Nicholls of the Economist Intelligence Unit, has identified several reasons for the drop in sales last year:

11.02am GMT

The latest inflation figures from the eurozone are out — and they show that prices are rising more slowly than expected.

Despite the European Central Bank’s huge money-printing operation, eurozone inflation probably only rose by 1.4% per year in December, down from 1.5% in November.

Eurozone Inflation slows to 1.4% DEC y/y vs. 1.5% in NOV – Draghi has no reason to go hawkish

10.53am GMT

Guardian Business has launched a daily email.

Besides the key news headlines that you’d expect, there’s an at-a-glance agenda of the day’s main events, insightful opinion pieces and a quality feature to sink your teeth into each day.

Related: Business Today: sign up for a morning shot of financial news

10.37am GMT

Breaking away from the car sales figures…. we have good news for the UK economy.

UK productivity (basically how much each worker actually produces) jumped by 0.9% in the third quarter of last year, new figures show.

UK labour productivity, as measured by output per hour, is estimated to have grown by 0.9% from Q2 2017 to Q3…but… pic.twitter.com/ONhWbEEKNP

Biggest rise in productivity Q3 for 6 yrs: encouraging but level wld have been 20% higher if pre-downturn trend continued. Stark blow to prosperity, long way to go

10.22am GMT

Unions fear that British car workers could be laid off this year, if sales don’t recover.

Tony Burke, assistant general secretary of Unite, says the UK’s “world class car workers” will be looking to the year ahead with trepidation”, adding:

“The government has caused confusion and damage with its policy on diesel cars and needs to start listening to the industry and workforce. Diesel engines produced by Unite members in the UK are the cleanest in the world.

“Ministers’ botched and badly thought through announcements are causing major damage to the industry. Combined with economic and Brexit uncertainty this risks taking the sheen off the jewel in the UK’s manufacturing crown and the 800,000 high skilled jobs it sustains.

10.08am GMT

2018 could be another bad year for the motor industry, if consumer confidence remains subdued.

Richard Jones, managing director of motor finance group Black Horse, says the next few months will be crucial

“I believe we’ll see new car sales continue to decline in the first quarter of 2018 given that this period in 2017 was so strong. This should help dampen fears of oversupply having a negative impact on used car prices and is positive in the long term by ensuring the new car market is operating from a sustainable position. I would also expect the used car market to continue to perform well.

“With uncertainties facing the UK economy it’s hard to make a confident forecast for 2018 as a whole. I believe a big test for the industry will come after quarter one when we will see how the underlying UK economy and consumer confidence is influencing car demand.”

9.50am GMT

Brexit is the biggest threat to the UK automobile industry this year, according to a new survey of car dealers from Close Brothers Motor Finance.

9.43am GMT

Worryingly, the drop in diesel car sales seems to have pushed emissions of carbon dioxide up.

Carbon tailpipe emissions have risen for the first time since 1997, with new cars averaging 121.04g/km, up 0.8% on 2016. Last year, UK new car CO2 emissions fell for the 19th consecutive year and this is the first year the figure has risen since records began.

9.29am GMT

The SMMT have just issued a press release, confirming that UK car sales declined in 2017.

Here are the key points:

9.18am GMT

In contrast to the UK, car sales in Germany actually rose last year.

Auto sales in Europe’s largest economy increased by 2.7% during 2017. However – as in Britain – diesel sales tumbled (by 13%).

Pressure is growing on Germany to tackle diesel pollution as dozens of cities including Munich and Stuttgart, where BMW and Daimler are based, could face penalties for allowing nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels in excess of European Union limits introduced in 2010, the DUH environmental lobby has said.

8.55am GMT

Related: Business Today: sign up for a morning shot of financial news

8.46am GMT

Newsflash: Britain’s FTSE 100 has hit a fresh intraday record high.

The index of blue-chip companies gained another 12 points, or 0.15% points, to 7708 points, six points above yesterday’s record levels.

European markets continue to make further gains, with the sheer scale of the global rally demonstrating how investors are embracing all things equity and risk related, basking in the euphoria of synchronous global growth. Equity markets, which were already strengthening well in advance of Trump’s $1.5tn tax cut, or indeed a prospective US infrastructure bill that could form the centrepiece of 2018 legislation, show no sign of any stress, with new record highs an almost daily occurrence.

With the party in full swing and implied volatility at such low levels, markets are seemingly immune to any possible downside, but the key risk that might ultimately bring markets down is inflation. A material increase in inflationary pressures would potentially force central banks to tighten rates faster than the market is expecting

8.33am GMT

Chris Bosworth, Director of Strategy at Close Brothers Motor Finance, believes Brexit anxiety and opposition to diesel cars are the main reason car sales fell last year.

“Today’s figures reflect the impact that anti-diesel messages from the government and ongoing Brexit trade negotiations are having on both business and consumer confidence across the motor industry.

December marks the ninth month of consecutive decrease in new car sales as squeezed consumers are reluctant to purchase big ticket items such as cars and motorcycles.

“Quite frankly, 2017 has been a year to forget for the UK car industry.

“You’d have to dig pretty deep to find anything positive to take from the past 12 months which has seen diesel demonised in the media on a weekly basis.

8.17am GMT

Bloomberg blames “Brexit’s impact on buyer confidence and lingering skepticism over the emissions performance of diesel cars” for the 5.6% drop in UK car sales last year.

UK car sales suffered their biggest annual slide since the global recession, stunted by #Brexit’s impact on buyer confidence and lingering skepticism over the emissions performance of diesel cars https://t.co/k9MRnr09rA via @_benkatz #tictocnews pic.twitter.com/KBwoINpDZg

8.14am GMT

The Financial Times agrees that Britain’s car industry needs clarity about the UK’s future relationship with the EU, fast:

You can’t wait until March 2019,” [SMMT chief Mike Hawes] said, when the UK will leave the EU.

“Production is a tap that takes a long time to turn on and off.”

7.58am GMT

It’s official: Britain’s car industry has suffered its biggest drop in sales since the financial crisis.

Sales of new vehicles fell by 5.6% during 2017 – the first annual decline since 2011, and the worst since 2009.

UK car sales declined in 2017 after five years of rapid growth, with the industry blaming government for a collapse in consumer confidence in diesel vehicles.

Total sales for last year were 2.54m new vehicles, a decline of 5.6% on 2016, with diesel sales dropping 17%. Despite the decline, 2017 sales remained near the highest on record.

Related: First fall in car sales in five years blamed on fears over diesel ban

“Some investment decisions are overdue … we need clarity [on the terms of a transitional period] by the end of the first quarter.”

[Otherwise] They will have to start implementing contingency plans.”

7.45am GMT

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.

On a month-on-month basis average earnings are tipped to increase by 0.3% and on an annual basis they are forecasted to rise by 2.5%.

The US has been steadily creating new jobs over the past few years, but wage growth has been sluggish. If the US economy wants to step up a gear in terms of economic growth, wage growth and in turn the spending levels will need to tick up.

European opening calls update courtesy of CMC MARKETS at 6.37am -FTSE 100 is expected to open 4 points lower at 7691. DAX is expected to open 23 points higher at 13190. CAC 40 is expected to open 2 points higher at 5415.

Friday’s Daily Mail City: Wall St rally lifts global markets to record highs #tomorrowspaperstoday pic.twitter.com/KHomaerwk1

Continue reading…

Jan
05

US jobs growth slows in December

Unemployment rate stays at 17-year low and stock market rises to new high

Jan
05

Stock market extends surge despite slowing US job growth

Economy adds 148,000 jobs in December with jobless rate steady at 4.1%Pace of hiring has slowed and wages continue to lag behind growth

Wall Street has shrugged off slowing growth in US jobs, extending a surge in the stock market as the world’s largest economy comes closer to reaching full employment.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up about 0.2% in New York on Thursday morning, adding more than 50 points to reach 25,123, despite the weaker readings for job creation last month. Figures from the US labor department showed 148,000 new positions were created in December, below the forecasts of economists, as the retail sector shed 20,000 jobs over the holiday season.

Related: Dow and FTSE hit record highs as global stock market surges continue

Continue reading…

Jan
05

Top 7 Best Auto Insurance Companies of 2018

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If you want the best protection money can buy, buying an auto policy from one of the best car insurance companies is essential. By buying a high quality policy from a reputable provider, you’ll gain both peace of mind and protection from life-changing financial losses.

While there are plenty of companies to choose from, the best car insurance companies offer certain features that help them stand out.

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In addition to policies that can be tailored to your unique insurance needs, they generally offer superior customer service, an up-to-date website where you can pay your bill or check your policy details, and a top notch claims process that makes recovering from an auto accident as seamless as possible.

Because car insurance has become such a competitive space, shopping around for the best automobile insurance rates is crucial. Where one company might charge higher rates due to your age or driving history, another might offer special discounts based on an entirely different set of criteria.

Most of the time, the only way to find out how much you’ll pay is to apply for several quotes and compare them side by side.

This post was created to introduce some of the best car insurance companies in the business, plus provide an overview of how each business operates.

BEST CAR INSURANCE COMPANIES IN 2017

When your goal is finding the best policy at an attractive price, it pays to compare several of the highest rated companies side by side. When figuring out which companies to highlight, we looked at Reviews.com Auto Insurance Study and J.D. Power’s 2016 Auto Claims Satisfaction Study. From those studies, we handpicked several companies that received high ratings across the board.

top 10 auto insurance companies

What are the best car insurance companies of 2017?
Liberty MutualAllstate InsuranceUSAAAuto-Owners InsuranceProgressiveState FarmThe Hartford

Liberty Mutual Insurance

Founded in 1912, Liberty Mutual Insurance insures more than 1.5 million vehicles and has some of the top customer service ratings.

Why you might like Liberty Mutual:

Ranked “among the best” by J.D. Power’s 2016 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study
Great standard coverage, as well as the option to add:

Accident forgiveness: Your insurance rates won’t go up when you’re involved in your first accident.
New car replacement: If you total your car when it’s less than a year old and has fewer than 15,000 miles, they’ll reimburse you the cost of a new car, not just the depreciated value.
Better car replacement: You’ll be reimbursed for a car that is one model year newer and 15,000 fewer miles than your totaled car.
Deductible fund: Reduce your deductible by $100 when you add this feature, and then another $100 every year after that.

24-hour claims service

Why you should keep looking:

Policies can be expensive if you are purchasing a single policy.

USAA

USAA received extremely high marks from J.D. Power’s Claims Satisfaction Survey, including 5/5 in overall customer satisfaction. In addition, USAA customers were extremely satisfied with their final settlement after an accident, which is one of the most important indicators or a high quality insurance company.

The biggest downside to USAA is that it is only available to members or former members of the United State military and their close family members. So, if you’re in the general public, you won’t have the opportunity to buy a policy from USAA.

Why you might like USAA:

Top ratings, including overall customer satisfaction
Superior customer service
Diverse policy options to meet anyone’s needs

Allstate Insurance

If you’re looking for a car insurance company that offers high quality insurance policies with the opportunity for discounts, Allstate Insurance should be on your short list. Allstate received fairly high ratings across both studies mentioned in this article, with its highest marks received from customers who reported a positive rental car experience.

Allstate Insurance offers the best of both worlds when it comes to the user experience. With brick and mortar offices and agents placed all over the country plus a user-friendly and helpful website, customers have the opportunity to get in-person help or access information online at any time.

Why you might like Allstate:

Most areas have a physical office and local agents
Multiple opportunities for discounts for bundling, anti-theft devices, and passive restraint
Consumer-friendly website

Why you should keep looking:

Several comparable companies received higher ratings across the board
Can be expensive if you don’t bundle policies

Auto-Owners Insurance

While Auto-Owners Insurance keeps a fairly low profile, they receive extremely high marks across the board. In fact, J.D. Power awarded Auto-Owners Insurance the highest rating in their 2015 Auto Claims Study, with a 5/5 in every category except for rental car experience. That puts Auto-Owners Insurance ahead of the pack in terms of overall customer satisfaction whenever a claim is filed.

The fact that Auto-Owners Insurance has been around since 1916 should also put consumer’s minds at ease. During that time, they have exhibited financial stability consistently. Auto-Owners Insurance also has 6,300 independent agents, meaning you can buy your policy directly from an individual who understands your needs.

Why you might like Auto-Owners Insurance:

High ratings for customer service and claims experiences
Individual agents who care
Variety of discounts available

Why you should keep looking:

Policies can be expensive if you don’t qualify for discounts
Website isn’t as user-friendly as it could be

Progressive

Progressive Insurance is known for its constant barrage of advertisements, but they also have a solid base of customers who seem quite happy with their products. Although they didn’t receive the best marks possible from J.D. Power’s 2015 Claims Study, they come in extremely competitive when it comes to pricing.

Other benefits Progressive offers include plenty of opportunity for discounts, a solid online presence, and their Snapshot program, which rewards good driving behavior.

Why you might like Progressive:

Plenty of available discounts and competitive pricing
Great online presence

Why you might keep looking:

Other companies receive higher ratings across the board
Scarce individualized attention from agents

State Farm

Founded in 1922, State Farm Insurance has a history of financial stability and customer service satisfaction. With physical offices and agents dispersed throughout the country, State Farm is also known for offering individual service that simply cannot be matched by online-only firms.

The company’s biggest benefits include its brick-and-mortar stores and agents, the many discounts it offers, and its strong mobile app. State Farm also makes it easy and painless to get quotes online, which means you don’t have to head into a local office if you don’t want to.

Why you might like State Farm:

Local offices and agents provide in-person help
Great mobile app and website
Plenty of discounts available

Why you might keep looking:

Average ratings from J.D. Power

The Hartford

With more than 200 years of history in business, The Hartford has built an excellent reputation for customer service and claims processing. As of today, the company is still receiving high marks from companies like J.D. Power. In its 2015 Auto Claims Satisfaction study, The Hartford received excellent marks (4/5 or 5/5) in every category except for service interaction.

Although The Hartford is an old company, they still offer some of the best technology in the business. Using their website, you can shop around for and even apply for a new policy. Plus, you’ll have 24/7 access to agents either on the phone or online.

Why you might like The Hartford:

Multiple policy discounts
Top ratings for claims management
Guaranteed renewals of your policy as long as you can drive

Why you might keep looking:

Low ratings for service experiences during the claims process
The best benefits go to AARP members

Why you might keep looking:

Only available to U.S. military members, veterans, or their close family members

HOW TO PICK A POLICY WITH THE BEST AUTO INSURANCE COMPANIES

Knowing which companies received the highest marks year after year is just part of the battle. Beyond researching the best auto insurance companies on the market, you’ll also need to decide which type of policy to buy – and how much coverage you really need. On top of those factors, you’ll need to consider how high your deductible should be.

Consumer Reports offers an extremely helpful guide that highlights the steps you can take to find the best policy for your needs. Even if you’re fairly happy with your policy, they suggest shopping around to compare rates at least every two or three years. That way, you have a good idea of where car insurance rates are headed and how much you could save if you switch. Plus, it never hurts to shop around. Based on your age, your driving record, and other factors, the policy you have now could be considerably cheaper if you switched firms.

Here are some tips to consider as you shop around and compare policies:

Pick a top-rated insurer

By checking auto insurance ratings, you gain insight from each company’s existing customer base. Consumer Reports suggests reading through the most recent auto insurance claims and satisfaction studies to see which companies consistently come out on top.

Set the right deductible

No matter whether you buy liability coverage or full coverage for your vehicle, you need to pick a deductible that meets you needs. Consumer Reports suggests choosing a higher deductible if you want to save on monthly premiums, but setting a lower deductible if you want to avoid a large out-of-pocket expense in the event of a car accident. “If you have a good driving record and haven’t had an at-fault accident in years, or ever, opting for a higher deductible on collision coverage might be a good bet,” writes Consumer Reports. Just remember to keep that much cash on hand in case you need it.

Don’t buy state minimum coverage if you truly want a high quality auto policy

While state minimum coverage is less expensive in the short-term, it can prove extremely costly if you have a claim that far exceeds the cap on the policy you purchased. By investing in a policy that offers more generous coverage limits, you can save yourself some heartache and protect your personal property in the event of a costly accident.

Ask friends and family for recommendations

While reading auto insurance provider reviews and ratings is a smart move, you can also ask family and friends for their recommendations. General ratings can help you gauge the quality of any company; however, personal reviews tend to hold more weight. Ask friends and family members whether they have had a good experience with their auto insurer before you purchase a policy. You may be able to nail down the best insurer for your needs based on the suggestions of others.

Get quotes from multiple companies

If you’ve read plenty of insurance company reviews and still can’t decide, it might help to get several quotes to compare. Depending on where you live and other factors, one company could offer a much better deal on auto insurance than the rest. In this scenario – where one company is much cheaper over all – you should figure out why the price is so affordable. Are you comparing apples to apples?

Compare similar policies

Speaking of an “apples to apples” comparison, this part of your search is crucial. To find the right auto insurance company and policy for your needs, you need to compare similar auto insurance policies among multiple providers. This means comparing policies with the same levels of coverage and a similar deductible.

HOW TO CHOOSE CAR INSURANCE COVERAGE LIMITS

While you can buy a similar level of auto insurance coverage from multiple insurers, it might be wise to tailor your policy to your specific needs. The higher your coverage limits, the more you’ll generally pay for your premiums. However, having higher coverage limits also means more security in the event of a catastrophic accident. The same is true for your deductible as well; with a lower deductible, you’ll pay a lot less out-of-pocket if an accident should occur. On the flip side, you’ll pay higher premiums to have a lower annual deductible.

As you navigate the intricacies of comparing policies among different insurers, it’s important to decide on the coverage limits you’re comfortable with as well. Consider these tips as you move forward with the purchase of a new auto insurance policy to meet your needs:

Consider your assets

If you own your home and have plenty of other assets, you should consider buying a policy with higher coverage limits than what is normally offered. For more peace of mind, consider buying the top tier of auto coverage to protect your family. With more coverage in place, you can ensure you won’t run out of coverage in the event of a catastrophic accident – or worse, get sued by someone who plans to go after your assets in court.

Of course, some people also buy a generic umbrella policy to kick in in times like these. With an umbrella policy, you’ll have additional coverage to tap into if your auto insurance policy’s limits have been reached, or if someone sues you in a court of law.

Take your car payment into account.

If you paid cash for your car or paid it off slowly over time, it’s your right to choose an auto insurance policy with any limits you desire. If you financed your car and still owe money, on the other hand, your lender might dictate the type of policy you have to buy.

Most lenders who carry auto loans will require you to add comprehensive coverage with collision benefits to your policy. This type of coverage is definitely more expensive, but it will help defray the costs if you should damage or total your car while you’re still making payments.

Gap coverage is another type of coverage that will “bridge the gap” between what your car is worth and how much you owe. Since many newer cars tend to lose value quickly, this type of coverage can be a smart purchase towards the beginning of your auto loan.

Figure out what kind of driver you are

If you’re a reliable driver who has never been in an accident, having the highest levels of coverage may be the last thing on your mind. If you’re not a great driver or have been in several accidents, on the other hand, you may be keenly aware of just how important those coverage limits are.

At the end of the day, the type of driver you are and how often you drive may play a part in the coverage limits you select. If you drive infrequently, you may be more comfortable with lower or average limits. If you drive at high risk times or commute back and forth to work, on the other hand, more or better coverage might help you sleep better at night.

Decide how much you can afford to pay if you have an accident

Coverage limits play a huge role in how much your auto insurance premiums cost, but so will your deductible. Since you’ll be required to pay your deductible in full to access your insurance benefits after an accident, it’s important to make sure your deductible is affordable enough you can cover it with your savings. The right auto policy for your needs will have the right combination of healthy coverage limits with an annual deductible you can actually afford.

WANT THE LOWEST AUTO INSURANCE RATES? DO THIS.

While auto insurance rates are extremely competitive, they still vary widely depending on the company you use and the type of policy you purchase. With that being said, there are still plenty of ways to keep your costs lower than average. If price is an important consideration in your search, consider these tips:

Ask about discounts

Some of the best car insurance companies offer discounts on anything from bundled policies to good credit, zero claims, theft protection devices, and more. Others offer discounts for paying your six-month premium in-full or installing an electronic device that lets the company monitor your driving habits over the long haul.

Allstate Insurance, for example, offers Drivewise – a discount program for customers who install a tracking device into their vehicle. By letting Allstate monitor your driving habits, you can qualify for a discount of up to 30 percent.

Take advantage of low mileage discounts

If you work at home or have a short commute to work, some car insurance firms will extend a discount. Low mileage discounts can also apply if you carpool to work and share miles and expenses.

Qualifying for a low mileage discount may require you to prove how much you drive each year. Further, each auto insurance company has their own limits on how many miles you can rack up and still qualify for this discount.

The best way to find out if you qualify for a low mileage discount is to ask your auto insurance agent when you apply for coverage – or even after you qualify.

Shop around.

If your goal is saving money, the most important step in your search for car insurance is shopping around. Auto insurance rates can easily vary by hundreds of dollars per year with the same car and driver. If you want the best shot at affordable rates, it’s crucial to shop around with at least 5-6 auto insurance firms.

Fortunately, shopping around online or over the phone is easy. Most of the time, a quick phone call or online inquiry is all it takes to get a handful of new auto insurance quotes in minutes. Make sure to shop with private companies and insurance brokers who may be able to offer a car insurance quote from different insurers.

Also, don’t base your decision on price alone. Where securing an affordable policy is important, the quality of your auto insurance policy is equally crucial. Buying a cut-rate policy won’t leave you better off if you get in a wreck and really need coverage. When shopping for a policy, you should focus on price and value.

Consider raising your deductible

Whether you’re shopping around for a new auto insurance policy or planning to keep the one you have, raising your annual deductible is a smart way to save on your monthly premiums.

If you want a $500 deductible to access your auto coverage, your insurance will be more expensive than if you chose a $1,000 deductible from the start. To save money, you should choose the highest deductible you can reasonably afford to pay.

If you do choose to go with a higher deductible, make sure you keep enough cash on-hand to cover it at any time. If you have a $1,000 deductible on your auto policy, for example, you should set aside at least that much in an account – or make sure you keep enough cash to cover your deductible in your regular emergency fund.

Reduce coverage on older cars

While you might consider full coverage on your cars, that doesn’t mean you need it. Where full coverage is smart on newer cars, liability insurance coverage may be a smarter move for older, paid-off models.

To find your break-even point, check out how much your car is actually worth on a website like Kelley Blue Book. If the cost of full coverage on your car is nearly as much as the car is worth itself, converting your policy to liability only can help you save money without jeopardizing your financial life.

Keep your credit in good shape

Most of the best auto insurance companies check your credit before they extend a new policy. If your credit is excellent, this will only help you get the best auto insurance rates. If your credit is poor, on the other hand, you might be asked to pay a whole lot more.

To keep your credit in good health, check your credit score and report frequently. While Credit Karma lets you see an estimate of your credit score for free at any time, AnnualCreditReport.com is a government-approved website that lets you see your full credit report from all three credit reporting agencies once per year for free.

Keep insurance costs in mind when you choose a car

The newer your car is, the more expensive your car insurance premiums will likely be. Also consider the fact that some car models with expensive replacement parts can cost more to insure regardless of age.

Consumer Reports suggests asking your car dealer to show you the “Relative Collision Insurance Cost Information Booklet,” produced annually by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That way, you’ll be in the best position to avoid models with insurance costs that are higher than most.

THE BOTTOM LINE

When shopping around on the best deal for auto insurance, it’s important to look at more than just premiums. The best auto insurance companies should offer more than affordability – they should also receive good ratings and reviews from their existing customer base, same goes for life insurance, burial insurance and health insurance.

The best way to find this out is to complete some research on your own. Look at some of the recent studies completed and read through them, then read as many online reviews as you can find. Also, make sure to shop around and compare rates among the handful of companies you feel comfortable with. The more you shop around and compare, the better off you’ll be.

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