Root Auto Insurance Review
Root has adopted a disruptive and innovative business model in its bid to bring the lowest possible rates to drivers with good habits. Central to this strategy is Root’s groundbreaking use of technology. Prospective customers are invited to take a “test drive” with Root, which allows the company to base its premiums on the way each individual customer drives.
Root achieves this by using telematic technologies, which analyze data generated by GPS systems to evaluate your acceleration, braking, cornering, and rule-following habits. This allows Root to reward safe drivers with highly advantageous rates. To get a quote, applicants download the Root app onto their smartphone, which generates an individual profile by collecting driving data for two to three weeks.
Once Root has enough data to make a decision about the rate you qualify for, the company will offer you a quote. According to Root, drivers whose habits earn them access to the lowest possible rates stand to save an incredible 52% on their auto insurance premiums.
In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at Root’s unique system, summarize the pros and cons of being a Root customer, and examine whether its low rates deliver as advertised.
Root launched in the 2010s with the objective of fixing the auto insurance industry, which the company describes as “broken.” Based in Columbus, Ohio, Root quickly outgrew the $3 million in venture capital funding it initially received. As of September 2020, it operates in 30 U.S. states, with plans to expand into more locations in the near future:
If you relocate to a new state after purchasing your policy and your coverage remains active at the time of your move, your Root car insurance will transfer with you if your new home is in a jurisdiction where Root operates.
How the Root “test drive” works
Root determines your eligibility for coverage by conducting a “test drive.” This screening process unfolds over five steps:
- Download the Root app onto your smartphone.
- Create an account and sign up. The entire process takes less than one minute.
- Drive as usual, keeping your smartphone with you whenever you get behind the wheel.
- Continue with the test drive for two to three weeks. Root will collect relevant data from your smartphone as you drive.
- You will automatically receive a rate quote if your driving habits meet Root’s standards.
At present, Root only insures motorists whose habits indicate a strong commitment to road safety. The company cannot guarantee the eligibility of any individual applicant, as its complete focus on rewarding safe drivers is what enables Root to keep their premiums so low.
Coverage options for qualified applicants
If Root decides to offer you coverage at the conclusion of your test drive, you will be able to purchase mandatory forms of insurance such as liability and personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Customers can also buy comprehensive and collision policies, which may be recommended or required depending on your circumstances and where you live.
Before seeking coverage from Root (or any other car insurance provider, for that matter), be sure you know which kinds of insurance are required and which kinds are optional in your jurisdiction. If you’re not sure what applies in your case, consult local laws and regulations.
Also, remember that some banks and financial institutions require customers with active loans to maintain forms of coverage that would otherwise be optional. For example, banks often compel borrowers to maintain comprehensive and/or collision coverage while they have an outstanding balance on their car loan.
Beyond these essentials, Root also offers special rideshare coverage. Like many other insurers, Root features policies that reimburse drivers for car rental costs while their regular vehicles are undergoing repairs. Root also extends this to include Lyft rides if you elect to use that particular service instead of renting a temporary vehicle.
Other perks and benefits of being a Root customer include:
- Free Lyft rides on certain holidays, including Independence Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and New Year’s Eve.
- Free roadside assistance services that cover up to three incidents every six months, with a maximum value of $100 per use.
- Easy SR-22 access through the Root app, which conveniently delivers the documentation drivers are required to file with state-based motor vehicle authorities.
How low are Root’s rates?
Actual quotes and rates vary, depending on your driving history and the habits you display during your test drive. However, Root is fond of claiming that virtually every driver who qualifies for a policy will save money compared to their current coverage. It’s only a question of how much.
Indeed, multiple authoritative sources confirm that Root’s car insurance rates are significantly lower than those offered by conventional providers. According to Root’s internal data, drivers with impeccable habits stand to slash their premiums by as much as 52% by switching to Root.
Root also provides:
- A 10% discount on premiums to drivers who never use mobile devices while behind the wheel
- Additional discounts for Tesla vehicle owners whose automobiles have Autosteer automatic steering technologies
Pros and cons of Root
Actual customers and reviewers have a lot to say about Root. Some of it is good, and some of it points to potential areas for improvement.
Here’s what people like about Root:
- The company offers very attractive rates that deliver meaningful financial rewards to people with good driving habits.
- Root makes it fast and easy to obtain an SR-22 and other required documentation.
- The company’s app performs a wide range of powerful and useful functions, including customer service and claims support.
- It is a truly unique auto insurance provider with innovative ideas and advanced technologies.
On the downside:
- Some customers who would qualify for coverage find the company’s “test drive” policy intrusive.
- A significant percentage of drivers (somewhere around 30%) will be refused coverage from Root after completing a test drive.
- Root’s coverage is not yet nationally available in the United States.
What others are saying about Root
As a relatively new company, Root has a relatively small digital footprint compared to its larger, more well-established competitors. Consumer information bureaus like Standard & Poor and Moody’s have not yet published reviews of Root, but Root has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 2017. As of September 2020, Root has an A+ rating from the BBB.
Financial data and investor interest in Root have also been very strong. Toward the end of 2019, Root was rewarded with $350 million in funding, which the company plans to use to expand. That funding implied a company valuation of approximately $3.6 billion, revealing staggering growth that strongly indicates high levels of customer satisfaction.
Root isn’t for everyone. The company only insures drivers who demonstrate a strong commitment to safety. Those who do not meet this standard are not eligible for coverage, but those who do are virtually guaranteed to pocket major savings compared to their current rates.
If you’re a safe driver with exemplary habits and you don’t mind generating the data to prove it, the savings could be too good to ignore. If you fit this profile and you’re looking to cut your car insurance premiums, switching to Root might be a great financial decision.