Root offers some of the lowest rates on the market by using an app to track your driving behavior, but it isn’t available in every state or for every driver.
Rachael BrennanRachael BrennanSenior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance ExpertRachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.
Anna SwartzAnna SwartzSenior Managing Editor & Auto Insurance ExpertAnna Swartz is a senior managing editor and auto insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our car insurance coverage. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic.com, as well as an associate writer at The Dodo.
Our proprietary ratings methodology takes multiple factors into account, including customer satisfaction, cost, financial strength, and policy offerings. See the “Ratings methodology” section for more details.
AM Best rating
A.M. Best is a global credit rating agency that scores the financial strength of insurance companies on a scale from A++ (Superior) to D (Poor).
Using a mix of internal and external rate data, we grade the cost of each insurance company's premiums on a scale from least expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$$).
The bottom line
Root, founded in 2015, uses an app to track how you drive, and sets rates that way instead of based on the usual factors. Root claims it can save customers can save up to $900 per year on car insurance, but being tracked while driving is a potential privacy concern for some drivers, and rates can still vary depending on how you drive during the test period, as well as the coverage levels you choose.
If you drive poorly during the initial tracking period, you may be denied coverage altogether. Root also lacks the coverage options and features of more established carriers, but Root could be a good option for safe drivers who want basic coverage at a low price.
Everything can be done through the app
Price is mostly based on driving habits
Roadside assistance included with every policy
Few auto coverage options
No financial ratings available
Basic coverages offered
Unlike some larger car insurance companies, Root only offers basic auto coverage options, like liability, comprehensive, and collision coverage. Root’s full list of coverage options include:
Liability coverage: Liability coverage protects you financially if you hurt someone or damage their property in an accident. It’s required in most 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. Also known as UM/UIM, this coverage is required in some states.
Medical payments coverage: If you or your passengers are injured in an accident, this coverage will help cover the cost of the medical expenses. Also known as MedPay, medical payments coverage is usually available in states where PIP is not required.
Rental car reimbursement: This pays for a rental car or a ridesharing service if your car is in the shop after an accident.
Drivers who want or need additional coverage, like drivers who have a loan or lease and are required to have gap insurance, may decide that Root isn’t a good fit for their needs.
Additional coverages offered
Root doesn’t offer much beyond a basic full coverage policy, but it does include roadside assistance coverage in every car insurance policy (most auto insurance companies offer roadside assistance, but usually as a paid endorsement, meaning you have to pay to add it per vehicle). That means you’ll have access to covered:
Flat tire changes
You can use any roadside assistance provider and send Root your receipts for reimbursement. Root’s roadside assistance covers three incidents per vehicle, per 6-month policy term, up to $100 per incident.
Root also offers homeowners and renters insurance through a partnership with Homesite, which you can bundle together with a Root auto insurance policy, though it is important to understand the home insurance coverage won’t be underwritten by Root.
This means you may have to reach out to Homesite directly with questions or claims for a homeowner or renters policy, even if you bought the bundled coverage through Root.
Root does not offer insurance for ATVs, motorcycles, boats, or commercial vehicles, so if you have another vehicle and you want to bundle coverage, Root might not be the right choice for you.
To score Root’s prices for car insurance, we compared the average cost of a full coverage policy (50/100/50 coverage limits and $500 deductibles for comprehensive and collision coverage) to competitor rates for the same coverage with the same driver profile. Using data provided by Quadrant Information Services, we compared rates for single drivers aged 30, 35, and 45 driving a 2017 Toyota Camry LE about 10,000 miles per year.
Root has a poor rating on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) National Complaint Index Report, which means it has a higher-than-average number of customer service complaints. Root was not included in J.D. Power’s 2022 Auto Claims Satisfaction Study, which rated consumer happiness with claims service, or the J.D. Power 2022 Digital Experience Study, which rated how policyholders feel about their company’s digital offerings.
We scored Root based on the total number of available auto insurance coverage options. Root offers basic coverage, like liability, comprehensive, and collision, along with roadside assistance. Root does not offer much in the way of additional coverage, which helps minimize expenses and keep costs low, but this means drivers who need more coverage will need to find coverage elsewhere.
Root does not have a rating with any of the big financial third-party rating companies, including AM Best, S&P, and Moody’s. This doesn’t mean the company is in bad financial shape, but it does mean customers have no way to be sure the company is in strong financial shape and will continue to be able to pay out its customers’ claims in the event of an accident.
How much does Root auto insurance cost?
The average cost of Root auto insurance is $916 per year for a policy with $50,000 in bodily injury liability per person and $100,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per accident. This makes Root significantly cheaper than the national average, and cheaper than most competitors that don’t use driving behavior to set rates.
Average annual rate
Average monthly rate
Root has some of the lowest rates of any car insurance company on the market because it uses telematics to monitor behavior behind the wheel. If you practice safe, slow, defensive driving, your potential for paying lower rates increases significantly.
If you’re aggressive and reckless (or even just someone who routinely drives over the speed limit) then you’re likely going to pay a lot more for your policy, or may not be offered coverage at all. Depending on your driving habits, this could be considered a positive or a negative.
However, like with other car insurance companies, your rates will still depend on a number of factors, including your age, ZIP code, and driving history. Root says your driving habits during the test drive period are the most important factor in what you pay for your policy, but it still weighs things like past accidents and age.
However Root announced in 2020 that it will drop credit scores from its rating system by 2025 and encouraged other companies to do the same.
What discounts does Root offer?
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.
When you’re ready to get a quote, you’ll download the Root app and follow the prompts to get it set up on your phone. Then, you just drive normally for a few weeks until the app lets you know your quote is ready (if you don’t qualify for coverage, you won’t be offered a quote).
Root uses this probationary period, known as a test drive, to set your rates, which means it tracks your driving behavior for a few weeks to determine how safe a driver you are and how much to charge you for car insurance. Four major factors are tracked during a test drive, including:
Smooth braking: Because frequent sudden stops may be an indicator that you’re following other drivers too closely, Root tracks how hard you hit your brakes and how long it takes you to stop.
Focused driving: Distracted driving increases the likelihood of being in an accident, so Root tracks how often you use your phone while you drive, along with other distracting behavior like changing the radio station, to set your rates.
Gentle turning: Slow, cautious turns are an important part of staying safe on the road, so Root tracks how quickly you make turns, with drivers who gently ease into and out of a turn earning a lower rate.
Safe hours: Root uses the tracking app to determine when you’re on the road, so drivers who avoid late night trips (especially on the weekend) and busy times like rush hour traffic can earn a lower rate.
Because Root needs a certain amount of information to put together a quote, the length of your test drive is different for every driver. Drivers who spend a lot of time on the road will get a quote much faster than drivers who don’t get behind the wheel every day.
The Root app will continue to track your driving even after the test drive period is over, and use the information it gathers to set your new rates at renewal. That’s where the privacy concerns may come in for some drivers — and Root only works with smartphones, so drivers who don’t have compatible tech won’t be able to get Root insurance.
The Root app also incentivizes good driving, so you may be able to earn “achievements” for safe driving habits even after your test drive, and receive a “driver scorecard” with information about your behavior behind the wheel.
Are you insured during the Root test drive?
When your Root car insurance policy becomes effective depends on the laws in your state. Some drivers will need to complete the test drive period before Root will offer coverage but, in states where the law doesn’t allow that, Root offers what it calls “day one coverage”, which means you are covered during your probationary test drive.
If you have a day one policy, the company offers you coverage for up to 30 days at a given rate. After your test drive is over, if they decide to insure you, the company offers you a new, updated rate that is more reflective of your driving behavior, and that will last up to six months.
What to expect with Root auto insurance
How to get a quote: Root allows customers to use the website or download the Root app to start the quote process but, unlike most insurance companies, Root requires drivers to monitor their driving behavior with the app before getting a final quote. If the company thinks you have too much high-risk behavior, like hard braking or speeding, it may not be willing to cover you.
Customer service options: Root encourages customers to use the website or app to address their customer service needs, but customers who need to speak with a real person can call the customer service line at 866-980-9431.
How to file a claim: Customers can file a claim directly through the Root app, which takes all the required information and allows you to upload pictures of the damage to your car. Drivers who feel more comfortable talking to a person can call the customer service number and a representative will help you file a claim. Once your claim is filed, a claims adjuster will reach out to you directly.
How to cancel your policy: Root customers can cancel their policy through the mobile app, by calling the customer service number, or emailing the company at email@example.com.
Root is a relatively new car insurance company, which means it doesn’t have many customer reviews or financial ratings with companies like A.M. Best, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t offer good insurance coverage. If a low price is the most important thing for you when choosing your car insurance policy, Root could be a good choice for you.
Why is Root so cheap?
Root uses telematics to track your driving behavior and set your rate accordingly. The company uses a probationary period it refers to as a “test drive” and they use the information from that period to deny coverage to high-risk drivers, which makes their rates lower than their competitors.
Who is Root insurance owned by?
Root insurance is owned by Root, Inc., a technology company located in Columbus, Ohio. Alex Timm, the CEO and co-founder of Root, Inc., is a fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society and a member of the American Academy of Actuaries.
Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.
Anna Swartz is a senior managing editor and auto insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our car insurance coverage. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic.com, as well as an associate writer at The Dodo.