Root Car Insurance Review

Usage-based auto insurance with a mobile-first experience

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Root Car Insurance

Root Insurance is the new kid on the block, but the company is bucking long-standing car insurance traditions. Root bases its rates primarily on your driving habits, not your demographics. Because of this pricing strategy, even teen drivers may be eligible for reasonable rates. Overall, Root says its technology- and usage-based car insurance model has helped customers save up to $900 per year compared to their previous policies. While Root doesn’t offer any add-ons for its basic coverage, its comprehensive app gets great reviews from customers.

  • Pros and Cons
  • Company Overview
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Premiums are based on driving habits, not demographics

  • Drivers of any age, including teens, may be eligible for low rates

  • Built-in discounts

  • Can cancel your old policy for you

Cons
  • Could take 3+ weeks to get a quote

  • No online quotes—you have to take the test drive

  • Doesn’t insure high-risk drivers

  • Can’t retake the test drive

  • App tracks your driving habits

Company Overview
  • Official Website www.joinroot.com
  • Insurance Offered Car, homeowners, and renters insurance
  • Customer Service Available by email at help@joinroot.com or phone (866-980-9431), Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern.
  • Year Founded 2016

COVID-19 Assistance

Root Insurance encourages people with hardships resulting from COVID-19 to contact the company at covidhelp@joinroot.com. A customer service representative will help you review your options. The company is also following state insurance department directives for payment options and grace periods.

Root Car Insurance Coverage

Root offers all the basic car insurance coverages you’d expect to see from an insurer:

  • Liability (bodily injury and property damage)
  • Collision
  • Comprehensive
  • Rental car reimbursement (or Lyft credits)
  • Uninsured motorist property damage
  • Personal injury protection
  • Medical payments
  • Uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury

But unlike many providers, Root also includes roadside assistance with every policy (except in California). The service covers three requests of up to $100 each per six-month policy period. If you live in California, you’ll need to buy this coverage separately.

Root doesn’t offer any additional coverage add-ons like gap insurance or rideshare coverage. 

Root Car Insurance Costs

Root works differently than any other auto insurer on the market because driving behavior is the biggest factor in your quote—a whopping 35%—followed by your driving record. That means that you need to take a test drive for a few weeks in order to get a quote from Root—unless you live in California, where insurers aren’t allowed to consider driving habits. It also means that we couldn’t get a quote for this review. However, Root does claim that good drivers can save up to $900 per year compared to their previous car insurance policies. 

Root Car Insurance Discounts

Root Insurance says it automatically builds in every discount you qualify for, up to 52% on all coverages (as opposed to just a few, like liability or collision). Discounts kick in when you get your initial quote from Root, after your two- to three-week test drive, rather than when your policy renews, like with most providers.  

The only discounts Root specifically mentions are:

  • Focused driving discount: Save an additional 10% for avoiding cell phone use while driving
  • Bundle discount: Save 5% on renters insurance or 10% on homeowners insurance when you already have Root car insurance (not available in all states)

Root Car Insurance Availability

Root car insurance is available in 30 states, with six more states and DC coming soon. 

Your driving habits are the largest factor in being approved, but Root also considers standard risk predictions. Drivers who are high-risk, have too many prior accidents, or drive expensive cars can be turned down for a policy. 

How to Get a Root Car Insurance Quote

You can start the quote process online by submitting your basic personal and vehicle details, but you’ll finish it by downloading the Root mobile app and starting a test drive. The test drive period lasts around three weeks, during which the app will measure:

  • Braking
  • Turn speeds
  • Times of day you drive
  • Miles driven
  • Driving routes

Throughout the test drive, you can see your current driving score in the app and adjust your driving as needed. When you’re finished the test-drive period, Root will send you a quote if you qualify for insurance. If you aren’t offered a quote after your test drive, you can’t try again. 

If you need help at any point, Root’s customer service team is available at help@joinroot.com or (866) 980-9431, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. 

How to File a Claim with Root

You can file a claim 24/7 either online or through the app. Root says it only takes about three minutes. In the app, tap the “claims” card at the bottom of the home screen, provide as many details as possible on the accident, attach pictures, and submit. A claims expert will contact you to complete your claim. You can also call 1-866-980-9431 to file a new claim.

If you aren’t a Root customer but you were involved in an accident with a Root-insured vehicle, you can file a claim online

Root Customer Service

Study How Root Insurance Fared
NAIC Complaints Index 2.61 (Worse than average)

Because Root is smaller and newer than many other car insurance companies, it isn’t listed in national surveys from J.D. Power or other independent rankings. However, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), which gathers closed and confirmed complaints provided by state insurance departments, gave Root a complaint index score of 2.61 for its 2019 car insurance policies. This means that Root has more than 2.5 times more complaints than the national average of 1.00. 

When looking at complaints across all types of policies, not just car insurance, Root’s complaint index score is a worrisome 5.36—more than five times what’s expected. The majority of these complaints were about claim delays and underwriting surcharges. 

Financial Stability

While rating agencies like A.M. Best haven’t given Root a financial strength score as of September 2020, the company is confident in its ability to repay claims because it’s backed by the world’s largest reinsurance companies and takes a conservative approach to budgeting for anticipated claims. The company also has a $3.6 billion valuation and raised $350 million in its funding round in September 2020.  

Other Insurance Provided by Root

If you’re looking to bundle your insurance coverage, Root also offers renters and homeowners insurance in select states. 

Compare Other Car Insurance Reviews

Root itself explains that it’s not a good fit for everyone, and it’s important to compare quotes from different car insurance companies to find the best value for the coverage you need. Other car insurers also offer usage-based discounts, including: 

Final Verdict

Root Insurance may be just what you’re looking for if:

  • It’s available in your state
  • You have good driving habits and obey road rules
  • You want to manage your policy on your phone

However, you may want to consider other auto insurance companies if you: 

  • Don’t want to wait three weeks for a quote
  • Have privacy concerns about Root’s app continuously monitoring your activity during and after the test drive period (unless you change the app’s permissions)
  • Have a bad driving record or a very expensive car

Methodology

The Balance strives to give consumers unbiased, comprehensive reviews of auto insurance providers. To ensure that our content helps you make the right insurance decision for your needs, we review each insurance provider’s coverage options, discounts, customer service and satisfaction, and financial stability.

While unable to secure online quotes from Root for this review, we strive to look at the cost of a basic policy for a Ford Explorer—one of the most popular cars in the U.S., but not so popular that it’s among the most stolen cars and therefore, more expensive to insure. Our fictional applicants live in a residential suburb of Minneapolis. Insurance premiums in suburbs generally tend to be between the higher rates in urban areas and lower premiums in rural regions. We chose Minnesota because it has about average exposure to severe weather incidents (it has snow, but no hurricanes or tornadoes) and its rates are in the middle of the pack compared to other states. 

To give an idea of the range of premiums available to different risk profiles, we got quotes for a middle-aged woman with a clean driving record and a young male with a couple of accidents. Your situation may be quite different, but our quote is not meant to cover every kind of situation, but rather give a sample of what premiums could be with this provider. We use the same profile for every car insurance provider we review, to give the best chance of comparing providers’ costs across the board.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
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