Last Updated: July 2019
Disclaimer: We are not Root Insurance. This is simply our honest and revealing review of this insurer (we just happen to have the same name!).
This in-depth Root Insurance review is a 7-minute read. If you’re not here for an in-depth review, here’s the overall summary in 3 short paragraphs:
Root Insurance is a great company for the right drivers. They’ll give you a quote, then have you download their app where they track your driving for a few weeks and then give you a final quote. You decide then if you want to move forward with coverage or not.
If you’re a safe driver and are ok with downloading an app to track your driving for a few weeks, there’s a good chance you can save money on your car insurance with Root Insurance.
If you’re not a safe driver (drive at high speeds, high-risk area, traffic violations,etc.), there’s still a chance you could save money – but from our research it’s less likely. You really have nothing to lose to see what kind of rate Root Insurance would give you.
Here’s what our full review will cover. Click the links below to go directly to that section:
- Root Insurance Review and History
- Business Model
- How The Quoting and Application Process Work
- Factors That Impact Root Insurance Rates
- Root Car Insurance Coverage Details
- Discounts Available
- What We Like About Root Insurance
- Root Insurance Consumer Complaints
- Obtaining Quotes
- Final Thoughts
The world has begun its shift into a digital marketplace where consumers prefer to do everything with one click of a button and without much hassle.
Root car insurance has emerged into the auto insurance market hoping to accommodate this for consumers with the launch of an entirely digitized auto insurance platform known as Root Auto Insurance.
While the idea has noble intentions, and consumers may be enjoying it thus far, for the most part, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it comes without cost or pitfalls.
In this Root Insurance review, we plan to explain exactly what we are referring too and what you need to be aware of if you are considering Root as your auto insurance coverage holder.
Here are the details.
The Basics of Root Car Insurance
Like we mentioned above, this insurance company uses an app to track and record your driving habits. They collect information such as how often and fast you are braking and accelerating, the number of miles you drive, and even what time of the day you are usually out driving. All of this information is then used to come up with an insurance quote.
This kind of insurance is also often referred to as usage-based car insurance. If you are a safe driver that puts fewer miles on your vehicle, they feel that you shouldn’t be responsible for paying the same rates that other drivers do.
For this system to work, you have to have your phone with you while you are driving. They collect the data through telematics. The sensors in your phone are what determines the speed and how long you drive the vehicle.
For this insurance, you also scan your license to the car insurance app to provide them with your information, and once all of that is confirmed, you can proceed with the test drive portion of the process. Many sessions last up to a month, but the duration can be shorter for some. Once complete, you will be sent a notification with your different quotes.
There is more on this process below.
Our Root Car Insurance Review
Root car insurance certainly has an interesting backstory. Root was founded by Alexander Timm, who had previous ties to another significant auto insurance provider for more than 10 years: Nationwide Insurance.
During Timm’s tenure with Nationwide, it seems he recognized a gap in the market and an opportunity to execute on advanced algorithms and digital technology to effectively underwrite and gauge potential risk while insuring a wide variety of drivers.
The idea was to make the process of applying for car insurance fast, easy, and not to require help from a current auto insurance agent to complete the entire process. Seems simple enough right?
Currently, Root Car Insurance is based out of Columbus, Ohio, and was started with an early round of investors in the sum of 3 million dollars.
This initial seed money was primarily allocated to get the company approved for business in the state of Ohio.
After this journey was successful, Root auto insurance raised another 4 million dollars in venture capitalist funds to begin its expansion across the United States and to have the ability to hopefully offer car insurance nationwide in the immediate future.
So far, so good for Root. They have expanded into a large section of the United States and continues to drive marketing dollars into the company to spread the word about how many premium dollars you can potentially save by making the switch.
Root Auto Insurance and Current Business Model
Currently, Root Insurance runs a business model 100% dependent on Root’s mobile application feature. Root Insurance claims that you are rewarded for how you drive by using smartphone technology.
This seems to hold true and good drivers seem to be excited about this new money savings opportunity that has been dropped in their lap.
But how does this happen exactly?
This is done by tracking key metrics through your smartphone for one to three weeks (based on how much you drive) before they can evaluate what your monthly premiums will ultimately be.
As the mobile interface collects data while you are behind the wheel, the advanced algorithms take place to determine your overall rates.
The interface is working on calculating miles, braking, and average speeds. Beware; however, it’s not just based on overall speed but the speeds you drive in certain geographical areas.
Don’t try and beat the system.
For some drivers, this may be a great path to take.
Especially considering that Root claims that the best drivers save on average 50% on their car insurance. Whether this is true or not, we don’t really know, and the only way you find out is by simply downloading the app and taking the “test drive.”
However, if you are more of a street racer or prefer hard stopping at the last second, this may end up costing you money in the long run, and you likely have better alternatives that you can consider outside of Root Auto Insurance.
The Test Drive with Root Insurance Company
In a nutshell, you will go through the Root mobile app, requesting car insurance coverage quotes.
Once you have completed this step, it’s time to move onto step 2, which is only driving around and living your normal life for 1-3 weeks — no big deal.
Here’s what that looks like in the app:
Overall, the signup process is quick and easy outside of the test drive.
Root Insurance even allows for you to sign up nearly instantly linking your Google or Facebook accounts to the app.
The test drive is known to take anywhere from 10-21 days.
The Root mobile app will continue to run in the background anywhere you go using what’s known as telematics on your mobile device.
After your test drive is complete, Root will provide you with a detailed report and your final quotes.
This can either be positive or negative for individuals wanting to switch their car insurance coverage.
It’s at this point that you are required to enter payment and make the switch to Root.
Here’s what that looks like:
Or, of course, you can simply opt to stick to your current auto insurance company with no fees incurred if you realize that you aren’t saving any money or get cold feet about making the switch.
No harm, no foul for trying the process out and seeing if you could accomplish better rates.
Outlook for Root Auto Insurance Moving Forward
Root is clearly spending big marketing dollars on advertisements on various platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Google, and TV/Radio. That’s probably why you’re here reading this review.
I think we have all seen the YouTube ads that start with the same catchphrase “Car Insurance is Fundamentally Broken.”
News flash, playing on YouTube, and marketing on the platform cost a lot of money, especially when you are chasing consumers in such a competitive market.
This merely goes to show that they intend on becoming a serious player in the market and have not yet showed any signs of slowing down.
The current struggle seems to be finishing expansion and getting approvals to operate in all 50 U.S. states, but Root claims this will be fully accomplished by the end of 2019.
From my point of view, assuming the mobile app continues to reward good drivers and provide savings to consumers than it’s a no-brainer that Root will continue to grow.
It’s a technology-driven company that’s fast and affordable, and that’s the economy we love and live in today.
Hats off to y’all Root Insurance.
Additionally, with how easy the mobile app is to use, it should continue to grow as more consumers are made aware of the option and potential savings.
Sometimes with companies such as Root, it’s only a matter of time before the marketing efforts catch fire and find a way to become more viral. I’m excited to see where this ultimately goes.
The Hawthorne Effect
What all of this ultimately comes down to is something known as the Hawthorne Effect. A person’s behavior changes when they know they are being watched and monitored. What Root is hoping for is to turn people into better drivers. Studies have shown that people are usually on their best behavior when being watched, and since Root tracks your driving habits closely, it is their hope that you become a better driver.
Factors That Impact Root Insurance Rates
Outside of your driving behavior while being monitored through the mobile app, Root takes a traditional approach to determine your overall rates.
Here’s a look at other factors that will be considered to decide on your final prices for auto coverage.
- Past Driving Record
- Overall Demographics
- Credit History
This is no different than any other auto insurance company, so it’s nothing that sets them apart nor anything to worry about when applying for coverage.
It’s simply the nature of purchasing auto insurance.
Root Car Insurance Coverage Details
Most consumers are going to be curious as to what kind of auto coverage, they will ultimately receive working with Root and if it’s robust or enough to protect them.
Here’s a quick overview of the coverage options and availability with Root Insurance.
- Bodily Injury– Up to 250,000 in coverage
- Property Damage Coverage– Up to 250,000 in Coverage
- Collision Coverage– This is coverage that covers physical damage that your vehicle experiences in an auto accident. Here’s a link to more information on collision coverage.
- Comprehensive– This is coverage that will cover damage to your vehicle that occurs from means other than an accident. This can include hail damage, vandalism, and potential fire. Here’s a link to more information on comprehensive coverage.
- Medical Payments– This coverage protects you from incurring costly medical bills following a vehicle accident.
- Personal Injury Protection– This can cover medical expenses but also includes income lost from missing work and another cost that your passengers may absorb due to medical cost or injuries if sustained in the vehicle with you during the time of the accident.
- Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist– This is going to keep you covered in case you get in an accident with an individual not carrying enough auto coverage following an accident.
- Uninsured Motorist Property– This covers your vehicle if the other party involved in the accident is not carrying enough coverage.
- Rental Reimbursement– helps cover the cost for a rental vehicle while you wait for your vehicle to have repairs completed. This is an optional policy add on. The company also offers policyholders the option to receive free Lyft credits as an alternative to reimbursement for a rental vehicle.
- Roadside Assistance– This allows you to be reimbursed if you need to be towed due to a flat tire or even a breakdown.All you need to do to take advantage of this coverage is simply send a receipt to Root Auto Insurance through the mobile app. Root has partnered with Blink, but policyholders have the choice to request whatever company they want. They will cover up to three different incidents over a six-month policy term with a maximum value of $100 for each incident.
Discounts Available Through Root Auto Insurance
Currently, discounts can be considered a downfall with Root. As of now, Root only offers 2 discounts.
The first discount can be applied for electric or hybrid vehicles.
Discount two can only be implemented if you install a secondary telematics driving sensor inside of your vehicle.
Outside of these two discounts, you have no additional options to catch a break on your coverage.
A third discount but one that shouldn’t necessarily fall into this class is the ever so standard referral discount.
Make a friend or family member switch to Root and enjoy a $10-$100 discount applied to your next bill.
It’s an easy but not a permanent discount by any means.
What We Like About Root Insurance
It’s tough to claim that we don’t love that an auto insurance provider is attempting to make things so easy for the consumers.
We love the speed and user experience you can gain from Root.
The mobile app is sleek and stylish, and the overall hassle is next to none.
We also like the idea of safe drivers being rewarded for their safe behaviors.
Overall, Root is on the right path but does have some items that they need to improve on which we will cover next.
Additionally, with Root, you can find some of the most affordable car insurance quotes. So, if you are considered a high-risk driver such as a teen, you may find some reprieve from the increasingly high and expensive car insurance rates being offered through other companies.
You also receive free roadside assistance with Root car insurance.
Consumer Complaints About Root Auto Insurance
Unfortunately, this can’t all be positive; otherwise, it wouldn’t be much of an unbiased or honest review. No car insurance company is perfect. And you can’t be all things to all people.
For the most part, Root’s consumer reviews are positive and better than their competitors for the most part. With that being said, let’s cover a few of the negatives we have found about Root Auto Insurance.
- No Ridesharing Auto Coverage Available with Root
- Limited Discounts Available
- No, Personalize Agents (Not that big of a deal breaker)
- Only Rewards the Safest Drivers
- Mobile Apps Won’t Always be 100% Accurate
- Not Available in All U.S. States
- No Vehicle Equipment Discounts
- No Accident Forgiveness
- No Free Policy Cancellation
The complaint referring to the Mobile app is one that I would like to touch on briefly.
Some of the claims floating around the internet currently involve the accuracy of the mobile app with Root. Could these be purely anger-filled drivers just wanting lower rates or who believed they drive better than Root’s Auto App claims? Sure. That’s possible.
However, others have reported that even taking their phone with them as a passenger in a vehicle whose driver doesn’t drive as well as them has caused their rates to climb.
The fact that Root’s mobile app may not be distinguishing the difference in the two transportation methods leaves me a little worried, but Root does say they can distinguish between if you’re a driver or a passenger.
Another drawback often reported about this car insurance company is the length of time the entire process takes. So, if you are looking for a quick quote for car insurance, then you will want to look elsewhere because it can take two to three weeks with Root.
It is also not ideal for those who need more specialized insurance coverage like rideshare or gap insurance.
Biggest Consumer Complaint Online: Increasing Rates with Root Insurance
Yes, unfortunately, this is a possibility. Root isn’t that blind to the possibility of drivers being well-behaved citizens during the test drive and then returning to their typical drag racing and road rage type behaviors.
Your car insurance policy with any insurer will renew every 6 months. After 6 months, Root Insurance will look at their data from their app along with other outside factors and determine your renewal rates.
Here is what Root Insurance says can cause your rates to increase:
- Traffic violations and accidents (obviously)
- If you moved to a new area
- Added drivers or new vehicles to your policy
- The amount of accidents in your area goes up
- The weather around you changes
- Cars in your area get less or more expensive to fix
I know, a lot of these are out of your control. In our research of consumer reviews – these rate increases are a big source of poor reviews online.
HOWEVER, other auto insurance providers look at these same things. State Farm uses their “Drive Safe and Save,” and many other companies have their own methods for data gathering and rate changes.
This is not a reason to ignore Root as an auto insurance option, but I can also understand the frustration and the other side of the fence when this happens to safe and responsible drivers.
Obtaining Root Car Insurance Quotes
If you are looking to get quotes with Root Insurance, you can do so here.
After you receive your quote, you’ll have to download the mobile app.
Once you have the app downloaded, you will be prompted to enter some basic demographic information such as the following.
- Name (First and Last)
- Date of Birth
- Vehicle (Make, Model and Year)
- Drivers Licenses (Photo Upload into Root App)
Unfortunately, once you complete these steps, you are still 1-3 weeks away from achieving your new rates or quotes with Root Auto Insurance.
You still must complete the test drive which will place a countdown ticker in the mobile app informing you how close you are to being either offered new rates or being declined for auto insurance coverage.
It’s at this point that you can either simply take the new quotes by making your first payment or make the decision to remain with your current auto insurance provider.
The choice is ultimately yours.
What Do We Recommend?
While we love the fact that if you are a safe driver that you can potentially shave your rates for your car insurance, we also believe that you need to consider all options before purchasing auto insurance or making a switch.
We also love the user interface and recommend Root for the drivers that are 100% certain that they drive with enough caution that the app will reward them for that behavior.
With Root, simply get quotes then download the app and begin your test drive while you continue to shop other options and rates available to you. This is the best approach for purchasing any form of insurance.
Final Thoughts: Root Insurance Is Innovative But Not For Everyone
It seems that the general discussion about Root is always the same…it’s fantastic if you are a safe driver.
Many others even go as far as to recommend other online savvy auto insurance companies such as Metro mile if you are a low mileage driver or even Insurify for total coverage options.
Nonetheless, Root Auto insurance has been highly regarded for saving consumers significant amounts of premiums dollars if they do happen to be one of the safe drivers on the road.
If you know you have a lead foot, I still recommend other options and always shop around a bit before coming to your final decision.