3.3 / 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.

Haley Sprankle

By

Haley Sprankle

Haley Sprankle

Reviews Editor

Haley Sprankle is a former reviews editor at Policygenius who specializes in homeowners and auto insurance. Previously, she was a writer at Wirecutter and The New York Times.

Updated|5 min read

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Root

OVERALL

3.3

3.3

THE GOOD

    check mark

    Everything can be done through the app

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    Price is based on driving habits

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    Roadside assistance included with every policy

THE BAD

    X mark

    Privacy concerns

    X mark

    Few auto coverage options

    X mark

    No financial ratings available

THE BOTTOM LINE

Root offers drivers the chance to pay rates that are based on driving behavior, which is 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, founded in 2015, also lacks the coverage options and features of more established carriers. But if you’re looking to save money and just need standard coverage, Root could be a good option for you.

Price

Average annual premium cost for auto insurance coverage and number of discounts available.

7.5

Third-party ratings

Satisfaction from consumer sentiment institutions and complaints to state insurance boards.

8.0

Policy options

Both the quality and number of coverage options, like unique auto insurance product features and availability of certain perks and benefits.

6.3

Customer experience

Ease of use, convenience, availability, points of contact, payment options, and claims ratings.

7.8

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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. 

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 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 don’t have to keep the app active during your policy period — you can turn off the permissions and location services once your test drive is up. However, if you keep those services on during your policy, that can help with setting your rates when it’s time to renew. 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.  

Fewer coverage options. Root is a relatively new car insurance carrier, so it’s 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.

Price

Average annual premium cost for auto insurance coverage and number of discounts available.

7.5

Root is a usage-based insurance company, meaning that it determines your rates by monitoring your driving habits rather than using the usual information like age, location and driving history. While this means rates will vary from customer to customer, it also means your rates could be much lower if you’re a safe driver. After analyzing data from Quadrant Information Services, we found that drivers pay an average of $707 per year for a full coverage policy from Root. This is more than 50% less than the national average premium of $1,652. These savings are pretty exceptional, but not every driver will have the same rate.  

Discounts

In addition to already-low average premiums, Root also offers some discounts. Discounts vary by state, so you’ll want to ask your agent what you’re eligible for, but they may include:

  • Bundling discount. If you bundle your auto insurance policy with a homeowners or renters policy through Root (which partners with Homesite Insurance), you could get a discounted rate.

  • Anti-theft features discount. If you have anti-theft features on your car, like a locking gas cap or certain alarms, you could also lower your premium. 

  • Good student discount. Full-time students who maintain a B average (or better) may be able to get a discount on their premium.

  • Safe driving discount. While this isn’t a discount in the traditional sense, Root tracks your driving habits before you even get a policy. If you prove to be a safe driver based on their standards during that trial period, that could lower your rates.

  • Multi-vehicle discount. When you insure multiple cars on the same policy, you could save money.

  • VIN discount. You could earn a discount if your VIN number is etched on your car window.

  • Driving safety course discount. When you take a certified safe driving course, you could get a discount on your premium.

Financial 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 entrant in the car insurance world. They also recently started offering homeowners and renters insurance through partner company Homesite, 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. 

Third-party ratings

Satisfaction from consumer sentiment institutions and complaints to state insurance boards.

8.0

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 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

  • NAIC complaint index: 0

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 haven’t rated Root yet. 

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 fewer complaints than the industry average.

Policy options

Both the quality and number of coverage options, like unique auto insurance product features and availability of certain perks and benefits.

6.3

Coverage options

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.  Those include:

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

  • Comprehensive coverage. 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 coverage. 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.

  • Roadside assistance coverage. This is included with every Root policy. You can use any roadside assistance provider and send Root your receipts for reimbursement. You’re covered for three incidents per vehicle, per 6-month policy term, up to $100 per incident.

  • Medical payments coverage. If you or your passengers are injured in an accident, this coverage will help cover the cost of the medical expenses. Medical payments coverage is usually available in states where PIP is not required.

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

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. 

If your car is totaled in an accident, your policy will pay out its actual cash value (ACV), which accounts for depreciation over time. If that isn’t enough to fully pay off your lease or loan, gap insurance covers the “gap” and repays the rest to your lender or lessor. That’s why drivers who lease or finance a car are sometimes required to have gap insurance — in which case Root wouldn’t be the right choice.

Additional perks and features 

Root’s Roadside Assistance is included with every policy. That means, no matter what, you’ll have access to:

  • Lockout services

  • Jump starts

  • Towing

  • Fuel/fluid delivery

  • Flat tire changes

Other types of insurance offered

Root offers homeowners and renters insurance through a partnership with Homesite, which you can bundle together with an auto insurance policy. 

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

Customer experience

Ease of use, convenience, availability, points of contact, payment options, and claims ratings.

7.8

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 — they were extremely helpful in our experience — or use the detailed website for help. 

State availability

Root auto insurance is currently available in 41 states. It’s not available in 9 states, including Massachusetts, Michigan, and New York. Here’s where Root is available:

  • Alabama

  • Arkansas

  • Arizona

  • California

  • Colorado

  • Connecticut

  • Delaware

  • Florida

  • Georgia

  • Iowa

  • Idaho

  • Illinois

  • Indiana

  • Kansas

  • Kentucky

  • Louisiana

  • Maryland

  • Minnesota

  • Missouri

  • Mississippi

  • Montana

  • North Carolina

  • North Dakota

  • Nebraska

  • New Hampshire

  • New Mexico

  • Nevada

  • Ohio

  • Oklahoma

  • Oregon

  • Pennsylvania

  • South Carolina

  • South Dakota

  • Tennessee

  • Texas

  • Utah

  • Virginia

  • Washington

  • Wisconsin

  • West Virginia

  • Wyoming

Digital tools

  • Online policy management and bill pay

  • Mobile policy management and bill pay

  • Online and mobile claims filing

  • Electronic policy delivery

  • Usage-based tracking app

  • FAQ and blog resources

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.

Payment methods

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

Policygenius offers insurance policies from many of the nation's top insurers, who pay us a commission for our services. However, all editorial choices are made independently.

Author

Reviews Editor

Haley Sprankle

Reviews Editor

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Haley Sprankle is a former reviews editor at Policygenius who specializes in homeowners and auto insurance. Previously, she was a writer at Wirecutter and The New York Times.

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