3.5 / 5

Root Auto Insurance Review

Root offers drivers the chance to pay based on driving behavior, which is continuously tracked by a mobile app. But privacy can be a concern, and this startup lacks the coverage options and features of more established carriers.

Tim Torres

Published March 18, 2021|10 min read

Editorial disclosure

At Policygenius, we're committed to providing objective and transparent advice through strict editorial standards to help you get insurance right. Read more about our methodology.

Root

OVERALL

3.5

THE GOOD

    Everything can be done through the app

    Price is based on driving habits

    Roadside assistance included with every policy

THE BAD

    Privacy concerns

    Few auto coverage options

    No financial ratings available

    Not available in every state

THE BOTTOM LINE

Root offers shoppers the chance to pay their rates based on driving behavior while tracked by a mobile app. It’s an intriguing concept, one that Root claims can save customers up to 50 percent on car insurance. But app tracking could be a major privacy concern, and rates can still vary depending on your drive test and coverage plan. Root also lacks the coverage options and features of more established carriers.

Customer Ratings

8.6

Policy Options

4.3

Customer Experience

8.4

ROOT COMPANY SPOTLIGHT

N/A

J.D. Power Rating

A trusted customer satisfaction and product quality research agency

A+

BBB Rating

A nonprofit organization focusing on marketplace trust and product quality

N/A

A.M. Best Rating

100-year-old U.S. credit rating agency focused on the insurance industry

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The Bottom Line

The Ohio-based startup Root has been around a few years now. They offer shoppers the chance to pay based on driving behavior while tracked by a mobile app. It’s an intriguing concept, one that Root claims can save customers up to 50 percent on car insurance. But then you’ll have an app tracking your every move, which could be a major privacy concern for some drivers. And rates can still vary depending on your drive test and chosen coverage plan. Plus, Root lacks the coverage options and features of more established carriers. Consider Root if you’re a younger driver concerned about high rates elsewhere and you play it safe on the road, and if it’s available in your home state.

The Details

The Good

Everything can be done through the app. This could also be considered a con, but if you’re a tech-savvy driver you should have no problem managing your policy, making payments, communicating with customer service, and even applying through Root’s mobile app. If you’d rather the personal touch of an agent, however, you should consider another carrier. 

Price is based on driving habits. If you practice safe, slow, defensive driving, your potential for paying lower rates increases up to 50 percent. If you’re aggressive and reckless, then you’re likely going to pay a lot more for your policy. Depending on your driving habits, this could be considered a negative.  

Roadside assistance included with every policy. Often an optional feature, roadside assistance comes with every Root car insurance policy. You can use any roadside provider and email Root your receipts for reimbursement. Pretty handy.

The Bad

Privacy concerns. To determine your rates, Root requires you download a mobile app and keep location tracking on your smartphone activated. You also have to keep the app active during your policy period, even after the initial period during which your rates are set. If you don’t mind having your every move, including where you go, traced then this may not be a big deal. But it’s worth considering how much information you’re giving Root, especially when it’s time to file a claim.  

Few coverage options. Root is a relatively new car insurance carrier, so they’re pretty bare-bones when it comes to auto insurance coverage options, perks, and features. There’s no gap coverage, new car replacement, unique equipment coverage, or rideshare coverage. With Root, you’re only getting the basics.

No financial information available. Since this carrier is so new, the major credit analysis agencies out there, including A.M. Best, Moody’s, and Standard and Poor’s, have no ratings available for Root. Since that’s the case, we’ve decided to remove our usual Confidence score from this review’s overall score average. 

Not available in every state. Root is currently offered in 30 states, but it’s slowly expanding to more areas. If you’re curious, you can sign up on their website to be notified when they’ll be available in your home state. Otherwise, you have to wait as their rollout continues. 

The Breakdown

Cost

Note: Because of Root's unique method of personalizing car insurance rates, Cost was not included as part of our review score.

It’s already tricky to predict what someone will end up paying for car insurance since it depends on a variety of factors. Your credit score, driving history, and where you live all have an impact on your premium with most standard carriers, and each driver has a unique background and history. 

Root tries to simplify things by offering drivers their rate based on how they drive rather than the other risk profiles that bigger car insurance companies use. Using a mobile app installed on your smartphone, Root tracks your driving habits for a few weeks and decides whether you’re qualified for a policy or not. 

Root claims this can save you up to 50 percent on average car insurance. This is possible because they’re picky about the drivers they choose to insure. If they only insure the best drivers with the safest driving habits, then they can pay out fewer claims and charge you less for insurance. And when your six-month policy is up, it will be renewed, and your rates may change depending on how you drove during your policy period.

For safe, defensive drivers who rarely get into accidents, and younger drivers who would otherwise pay higher rates with other insurers, this could be a game-changer. But Root premiums are based on your driving patterns during the test drive period, so predicting what any given driver would be charged for a Root policy is difficult. Since rates with Root can be so varying, we decided to remove the score for cost from our review.  

That said, Root does offer a pre-test drive quote on their website. 

Our sample driver, a 30-year-old single homeowner in Missouri with a 2015 Toyota Camry, received two different coverage plans, “Good” and “Fantastic.” Keep in mind this is how Root names their policies, and everything included in the “Fantastic” option is what you’d find in a normal, full coverage car insurance policy.

The lower-coverage “Good” plans had low coverage limits — much less than we’d feel comfortable with — and left out some vital coverages such as collision and comprehensive, which are part of a full coverage policy. That’s concerning, because if an at-fault accident or something else caused damage to our car, we would be on the hook for the cost.

The “Fantastic” option had higher limits, and included collision, comprehensive, and medical payments coverage. But it was more expensive. 

Drivers considering Root should research how much coverage they need and then customize their coverage levels to those specifications.

Here are the “Fantastic”-but-expensive policy details:

Basic CoveragesPolicy Limits
Bodily injury liability$50,000 each person, $100,000 each accident
Property damage liability$50,000 each accident
Personal injury protection$40,000 each person
Uninsured motorists bodily injury$50,000 each person, $100,000 each accident
Comprehensive$1,000 deductible
Collision$1,000 deductible

Since Root is basically asking you to keep a location tracker on you at all times while driving, there’s the concern over privacy. Root says your personally identifiable data is well-protected, and your driving habits are only used to determine your premiums. But it can be difficult for the app to discern whether you’re a driver or a passenger, or whether you’re even in a car. There have even been reports of the app tracking people while commuting in airplanes or trains. 

Since their start, Root has apparently worked out these kinks with their app, which now sports high scores on both the Google Play and Apple App stores. But no matter how much a company says it will keep your data private, there’s always the chance of a data breach or similar incident that could compromise your sensitive information. 

Discounts

Because Root bases your rates on your driving patterns and ability, it lacks the same discount structure as traditional car insurance companies, which award discounts based on things like going a certain number of years without a claim, completing driver's education courses or having certain features in your car.

But there is the opportunity to bundle your auto and home insurance with Root, if you live in a state where both these products are available.

Confidence

Note: Because of the lack of ratings for Root from third-part firms, Confidence was not included as part of our review score.

Root is a relatively new carrier in the car insurance world. They have also recently entered the homeowners and renters insurance spaces, though their claim to fame is still auto. 

Currently, there are no ratings for Root from any major credit agencies. However, Root is backed by venture capital so they’re capable of paying off any financial obligations they have to policyholders. 

  • Year founded: 2015

  • A.M. Best: N/A

  • Better Business Bureau: A+ 

  • Moody’s: N/A

  • Standard & Poor’s: N/A

A.M. Best , Moody’s , and Standard & Poor’s are all major credit rating agencies that measure the financial health of companies. They have not rated Root yet.

Better Business Bureau ranks companies based on the truthfulness of their advertising and on complaints from customers. They give Root an A+ grade.

Customer Ratings

8.6

There’s not much insight into what customers think about Root as a car insurance provider, which is unfortunate since customer ratings and reviews can give a decent indication as to whether regular policyholders are satisfied with a carrier’s service. 

As of now, only Consumers Advocate and the The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) give us some hints about Root’s reputation with customers.

  • Consumers Advocate : 4.5 / 5 

  • Consumer Affairs : N/A

  • Consumer Reports: N/A

  • J.D Power: N/A

  • NAIC complaint index : 3.9

Consumers Advocate is a third-party review site that tracks company reputation, policy features, and stability. They give Root a high score of 4.5 out of 5.  

Consumer Affairs is a site that lets customers directly rate and review companies. They have no page for Root yet. 

Consumer Reports , which rates a variety of products and services based on numerous factors, does not have a rating for Root. 

J.D. Power rates insurance companies based on the clarity of billing and policy information, policy offerings, and price. They have not included Root in any recent studies. 

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) , tracks complaints submitted to state insurance departments. A score of 1 represents the baseline average, with a zero meaning there weren’t enough customer complaints to count. Based on that, Root has more complaints than the industry average. 

Policy Options

4.3

Root is somewhat bare-bones when it comes to coverage options. It offers the basic coverages that drivers need, including bodily injury liability and property damage liability, which are required in nearly every U.S. state.  

Root does not offer custom parts and equipment coverage, new car replacement, or rideshare coverage. 

They also don’t have gap insurance and that could be a problem for some shoppers. Usually, when your car is totaled in an accident and you have comprehensive and collision coverage, you’ll be paid out the actual cash value (ACV) of the vehicle.

But sometimes the ACV isn’t enough to pay off a loan or a lease on your car — so gap coverage pays the difference. Sometimes your lessor or lienholder will require you to have gap insurance, in which case Root wouldn’t be the right choice for you.

However, roadside assistance is included with every policy. You can make requests via the Root mobile app and use any roadside assistance company, then email receipts to Root for reimbursement. You’re covered for three incidents per vehicle, per 6-month policy term, up to $100 per incident.

Standard coverage options

  • Liability. This protects you from the financial burden if you damage someone’s property or injure someone with your car. Liability insurance is required in most states.

  • Personal injury protection. Pays for your medical expenses or lost wages if you or your passengers are injured in an accident. Also required in some states.

  • Collision. Covers the costs of damage to your car after an accident, regardless of who was at fault. 

  • Comprehensive. Covers the costs of damage to your car not caused by a collision, including damage from extreme weather, fire, flood, falling objects, vandalism and theft. 

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist. Covers the costs if you’re in an accident caused by a driver without insurance, or whose insurance doesn’t cover the full extent of the damage they caused. This coverage is also required in some states.

Additional perks and features 

Root offers the following optional coverage add-ons: 

  • SR-22 forms.  This is a form that verifies with your state that you have the minimum car insurance coverages required by law, and may be required for drivers who have a DUI/DWI on their record.

  • Rental coverage . This pays for a rental car or a ridesharing service if your car is in the shop after an accident.

  • Roadside assistance coverage. This is included with every Root policy. You can use any roadside assistance provider and send Root your receipts for reimbursement. 

Other types of insurance offered

Root has recently started offering homeowners and renters insurance, which you can bundle together with an auto insurance policy. 

Root does not cover ATVs, motorcycles, boats, or commercial vehicles.

Customer Experience

8.4

Root’s website makes it pretty clear that their services are centered around their mobile app. Everything from figuring out your premiums to billing and claims filing happens with the app. You can also talk to a customer service representative over the phone, or use the website for help, but the main hub for everything Root is the app. 

That said, there’s still plenty of information available on their site, including a robust FAQ that covers questions about coverage, claims, and applications.  

State availability

Root auto insurance is currently available in 30 states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia. 

Root renters insurance is currently available in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Missouri, Arkansas, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada. 

Root homeowners insurance is currently available in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Iowa, Tennessee, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon.

Application process

You can start your Root application on their website or through the app. Entering your basic personal details takes you to a pre-test drive quote, with two coverage options which we detailed above in the Cost section of this review. 

Of course, your application (and rates) all depend on the Root test drive, a two- to three-week period during which the Root mobile app tracks your driving and uses data about your driving to calculate a rate. If you qualify, you’ll be offered a rate for a Root policy.

Payment methods

You can pay via Root’s mobile app or their website. They accept all major credit cards as well as Apple Pay. 

Digital tools

Root’s mobile app is the major thing here. You can file claims, speak to customer service, view and manage your policy details, and the app will continue to track your driving during your policy period which could affect your future rates.  

There’s also an online quote tool on Root’s website. 

Claims process

As mentioned above, Root customers can file claims through the mobile app, or online, or over the phone. Once a claim is in progress, drivers can track the status of their claim through the app.

Contact info

  • Website : www.joinroot.com

  • Phone : 1-866-980-9431

  • Headquarters : 80 E Rich Street, Suite 500, Columbus, OH, 43215

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