- Offers rideshare insurance
- Insures high-risk drivers
- Cheap full-coverage policies for drivers with poor credit
- Expensive rates for most profiles
- More complaints than normal
- Charges cancellation fees
Bottom LineThough Bristol West doesn’t offer the cheapest average rates, it’s definitely worth getting a quote for high-risk drivers and anyone struggling to find an affordable option. This is especially true for drivers with a DUI or poor credit.
Bristol West Auto Insurance: At a Glance
|Available in||43 states|
|Owned by||Farmers Insurance Group|
|National average premium||$211/month|
|Mobile app||Android, iOS|
|Customer service||1 (888) 888-0080|
|Claims||1 (800) 274-7865|
|Primary competitors||Dairyland, Liberty Mutual, SafeAuto, The General|
Bristol West Insurance Group — a subsidiary of Farmers Insurance Group — offers a full suite of auto insurance products for drivers in 43 states, plus Washington, D.C. The average Bristol West customer pays a little more than $200 per month for a policy, which makes the company a bit more expensive than some of its competitors.
Customer reviews are also mixed and show that satisfaction largely depends on the quality of your local agent. It’s also worth noting that the company has a higher-than-average number of customer complaints, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
Despite some potential drawbacks, the company is a good option for people struggling to find coverage. Bristol West rarely denies drivers coverage, no matter their record. Just be prepared to pay higher premiums.
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Is Bristol West a Good Choice for Car Insurance?
Bristol West can be a decent choice for car insurance, especially for those seeking specialized coverage, like a rideshare endorsement, or who may have a high-risk profile. But its competitiveness and satisfaction ratings vary by location and individual circumstances.
Where Bristol West stands out
Though the company doesn’t outright specialize in high-risk policies, it doesn’t turn many drivers down. Its extensive coverage options and easy buying process mean that almost anyone can get a policy with Bristol West.
Where Bristol West falls short
Bristol West offers relatively few discounts (with very little information about them online). And, with spotty customer service ratings, it’s important to investigate reviews for your local agency before purchasing a policy.
Bristol West Customer Reviews
Customer feedback is mixed across social media and online platforms, but some general themes emerged from the hundreds of reviews I read.
Let’s start with the bad and the ugly. The main issue I found had to do with fees, changes in policy costs, and payment processing mistakes — as shown in the screenshots below.
I found more than a dozen reviews from customers who were trying to cancel their policies. The following reviews detail a trend of overly complicated and confusing processes.
Based on what we see here, you should get information about how the cancellation process works and what fees are involved in detail and in writing before you sign any of your policy documents. It’s also worth documenting the entire cancellation process (again, in writing) if you need to cancel your policy, and let your customer service rep know. This should help you avoid any problems.
On the other hand, Bristol West has some great benefits for the right policyholders. The main positive trend was from customers who found a good deal with the company.
And I found several reviews from longtime customers (like the one below) who have been through the wringer with the company and are still happy with Bristol West.
And several reviews talked about getting an affordable policy when one was hard to find.
Bristol West National Average Rates
Now that we’ve covered what customers are saying, let’s take a look at how much the average Bristol West auto insurance policy costs.
|Liability Only||Full Coverage|
Bristol West’s average prices for both liability and full-coverage policies are higher than the national averages of $131 and $271 per month, respectively. But this doesn’t necessarily mean the company will offer you a higher-than-average premium. So many factors influence rates that it’s impossible to know how any company will price your policy based on its national average. We’ll cover some of those factors in the sections below.
Bristol West Rates Compared to Top Competitors
We’ve learned that Bristol West has higher-than-average rates compared to the national average, but let’s take a look at how Bristol West stacks up against its closest competitors.
|Company||Liability Only||Full Coverage|
When it comes to liability policies, Bristol West is the most expensive in the group (COUNTRY Financial is the cheapest). But the company does better with full-coverage policies, offering cheaper premiums than both 21st Century and AAA.
Keep in mind that these are averages and not a perfect representation of how each company will price your policy. Bristol West could still be your cheapest option, depending on the specifics of your unique insurance profile.
What Types of Coverage Does Bristol West Offer?
Though not the most extensive list of options, Bristol West offers many coverages you won’t find everywhere (even at large insurers like State Farm). Here’s a complete list of what the company covers according to its website:
- Bodily injury liability: Covers other people’s medical care when you’re at fault for an accident.
- Property damage liability: Pays for repairs to other people’s property when you’re at fault for an accident.
- Comprehensive insurance: Covers repairs for your vehicle if it’s damaged in a covered non-collision event (such as a hailstorm).
- Collision insurance: Pays for your vehicle’s repairs if it’s damaged in an at-fault accident.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage: Covers you if you’re hit by someone without any or without enough car insurance coverage.
- Rental reimbursement: Covers a portion or all of the cost of a rental car if your vehicle is in the shop for a covered incident.
- Medical payments: Covers the cost of medical care for you and your passengers after an accident.
- Towing and roadside assistance: Covers towing and other needs if your car is disabled on the road.
- Permissive use coverage: Covers another driver you’ve given permission to use your car.
- Trailer physical damage coverage: Covers $500 of damage to a trailer towed by an insured vehicle.
- Rideshare coverage: Covers when you’re working as a rideshare driver with a company like Lyft or Uber.
- SR-22 / FR-44 coverage: Bristol West will file your proof of insurance documentation (the SR-22 or FR-44 form, depending on your state) for you at the DMV.
- Non-owner coverage: Protects you if you don’t own a car and drive someone else’s vehicle.
Exact coverage options will vary by state, so speak with your Bristol West insurance agent if you have questions or concerns.
Bristol West Car Insurance Discounts
Bristol West doesn’t actively advertise its discounts on its website, but with some sleuthing (and going through the quote process), I was able to uncover a few discount opportunities.
- Auto pay: Sign up for automatic payments when you buy your policy to take advantage of this discount.
- Paperless: Sign up for paperless billing when you buy your policy to save.
- Good driving: Earn a discount for being accident- and ticket-free for a certain period of time. Talk to your agent for more details.
- Multi-policy: Purchase a Bristol West car insurance policy and another insurance product from insurers within its family (Farmers and Foremost) to qualify for additional savings.
- Advanced purchase: Purchase your next policy before the end of your current policy to earn extra savings.
- Continuously insured: Earn this discount for having continuous insurance coverage for the last 12 months.
Bristol West Car Insurance Rates by Age Group
Your age is one of the most important factors affecting how much you pay for car insurance. Younger drivers tend to pay a lot more for coverage since they’re statistically more likely to cause a collision. But luckily, rates start to go down significantly by the time you turn 25 and continue to decrease until your 70s.
Let’s take a look at the average rates at Bristol West for different age groups.
|Age||Liability Only||Full Coverage|
|Teens (18 years old)||$440||$777|
|Young Adults (25 years old)||$182||$342|
|Adults (40 years old)||$157||$285|
|Retirees (65 years old)||$160||$290|
Unsurprisingly, Bristol West’s rates are most expensive for the youngest and least experienced drivers. Costs decrease by around 50% once drivers reach their mid-20s.
From there, the decline in rates becomes more gradual before leveling off in middle age, where rates are at their cheapest. Rates remain low into the retirement years but eventually begin to rise around 65 since older drivers tend to have slower reaction times, which can lead to more accidents.
Bristol West rates for teens and young drivers: More expensive than average
The average 18-year-old pays $440 per month for liability and $770 for full coverage with Bristol West. That puts the company’s average rates much higher than the national average of $263 per month for liability and $530 for full coverage, according to Compare.com data.
Bristol West’s average rates for 25-year-old drivers are also high, at $182 per month for liability and $342 for full coverage.
Bristol West rates for seniors and retirees: More expensive than average
Typical 40-year-old drivers pay an average premium of $182 per month for liability insurance and $285 for full coverage with Bristol West. These rates are considerably higher than the national average — almost double for liability policies and more than $100 per month more expensive than the average full-coverage premium.
Seniors also pay an elevated rate on average with Bristol West — $160 per month for liability and $290 for full coverage.
Bristol West Car Insurance Rates by Driving Record
It’s probably no surprise that your driving record plays a big role in how much you pay for auto insurance. Good drivers with no recent accidents or tickets tend to pay a lot less than riskier drivers with spotty records.
Let’s take a look at the average premiums from Bristol West based on the policyholder’s driving record.
|Driving History||Liability Only||Full Coverage|
As expected, drivers with a clean record pay at least 22% less than drivers with a speeding ticket, at-fault accident, or DUI. Interestingly, Bristol West appears to offer better rates to drivers with a history of DUI when compared to drivers with a speeding ticket or at-fault accident. This is uncommon and may indicate potential savings for drivers with a DUI.
Bristol West rates after an accident: More expensive than average
Average rates for drivers with one at-fault accident are much more expensive at Bristol West. Not only are liability rates more than $100 more expensive per month than the national average, but premiums for full-coverage policies are more than $160 higher.
If you have an at-fault accident, you can typically lower your rates by adjusting your policies, such as raising deductibles and removing unnecessary coverage options. Additionally, you should compare rates often since costs can change quickly.
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Bristol West rates after a speeding ticket: More expensive than average
Bristol West’s average rates for drivers with a speeding ticket are also higher than the national average. Liability policies are nearly double the national average and almost $150 more per month for full coverage, according to Compare.com data. Still, drivers with multiple speeding tickets could find an affordable rate with Bristol West, so it doesn’t hurt to get a quote.
Keeping a clean record going forward is the best way to ensure your rates will drop in the future. In most cases, insurance companies stop penalizing drivers for speeding tickets three to five years after the incident.
Bristol West rates after a DUI: More expensive than average
Typically, a DUI conviction will nearly double your car insurance premiums. The average driver sees a rate increase of 94% after just one DUI, according to Compare.com data.
However, that doesn’t appear to be the case at Bristol West, though average premiums are still a bit higher than the national average — about 15% more for liability insurance. Full-coverage rates are within 3% of what the average driver pays.
Drivers with a DUI can also lower their rates by raising deductibles and getting rid of any unnecessary coverage. But drivers who struggle to find an affordable rate might also consider opting for a cheaper vehicle.
Bristol West Car Insurance Rates by Credit Score
Age and driving record are obvious influences on how much you pay for car insurance, but you may not realize that your credit history can play a part, too. Insurers don’t look specifically at your credit score, but they use your overall credit history to calculate what’s known as a “credit-based insurance score.” This score is used in many states (but not all) to help calculate your monthly insurance premium.
Typically, drivers with lower credit scores pay more for coverage, but exactly how much varies by company. Let’s take a look at the average premiums at Bristol West, arranged by the policyholder’s credit score.
|Credit Score||Liability Only||Full Coverage|
Average rates with Bristol West are lowest for drivers with excellent credit, about 15% more expensive for drivers with good and average credit, but nearly 60% higher for drivers with poor credit scores.
Overall, rates at Bristol West are generally higher than the national average for all drivers and policy types — except for full-coverage policies for drivers with poor credit, where rates are $3 less per month than the national average.
How to Purchase a Car Insurance Policy from Bristol West
Getting a quote takes less than five minutes. Once you decide on the right options for you, you can complete the binding process quickly — you’ll need your VIN and driver’s license number to get started.
You can also reach out to customer service, which is available Monday through Friday. Alternatively, you can call your local Bristol West agency and work with someone there to get you covered.
Getting a quote from Bristol West
To start my Bristol West quote, I went to the company’s home page and entered my ZIP code.
The first set of questions was about me and my location. These included my name, address, gender, and if I’m currently insured.
Then, I answered several questions about my vehicle, including the year, make, and model, as well as if it’s financed, leased, or owned outright.
I was also asked how I use my vehicle and if it has certain features like anti-theft devices or alternative fuels.
The next few questions were about me. I provided my marital status and the age I first received my driver’s license before moving on to the next page.
Next, I was asked for my current insurance information, including my current coverage levels.
I was also asked if I needed an SR-22 — a “certificate of financial responsibility” that lets the DMV know I’m currently insured — filed on my behalf.
Next, I entered my contact details. I could also offer my Social Security number here, which would provide me with a more accurate quote. I’m a little wary of sharing my personal information right off the bat, so I chose not to.
The only question the company asked about my driving record was to see if I had any recent car accidents. It didn’t ask about tickets — though I was asked for my driver’s license number later, during the purchasing process.
Since I have a speeding ticket, I know that means my premium will likely change once I actually go to purchase my policy. This could be why several customers complain about sudden rate changes within the first weeks of their policy period.
The company then asked for information intended to uncover discounts. This was the final step before I received my quote.
The quote page was easy to understand, with each coverage option and its limit laid out clearly. Each option also had an information icon next to it. If I hovered my mouse over the icon, I got a clear description of what it was for.
Adjusting my coverage options was easy with the drop-down menu, and I appreciated that each option was itemized, with its cost appearing to the right.
The policy defaults to basic coverage — possibly because I said I currently have basic coverage. By clicking “view all packages,” I was able to see the cost for higher coverage limits.
Another nice feature was the list of discounts applied to the policy — located on the right of the screen. Unfortunately, the Safe Driver discount will likely go away once the company gets my driving record and sees the speeding ticket I got a couple of years back.
Continuing forward to the purchasing process, I was asked to enter additional information about my vehicle and myself, including my license number. The final step was to sign my policy documents and pay.
Overall, the process was easy, and I appreciated how straightforward it was to customize the policy on my own.
Bristol West Customer Service
Bristol West isn’t currently rated by organizations like J.D. Power, and reviews are mixed across online review sites like Trustpilot. When I reached out to customer service, it was easy to get in contact with someone — so long as I was calling during office hours. I called three local agencies as well, and each was quick to answer my call.
Local offices may have more convenient operating hours, so be sure to check them out if you’re considering Bristol West. But, as these reviews illustrate, be sure to look at the reviews specific to your local office, or you may find yourself dealing with an unresponsive (disappearing?) agent.
The above reviews also show the somewhat strange billing practices at Bristol West. I found many reviews that talked about fees for paying on time or early, which is not common in the industry.
But it’s not all bad. A common highlight among happy customers was finding low rates and a great agent after leaving a different insurer, as you can see in the following review.
Filing a Claim with Bristol West
When you’re a customer with Bristol West, you can file a claim 24/7 through your online account. You can also call customer service Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST.
If you work with a local agent, you can also go to them for claims reporting. You can then view and track your claim with your online account. Bristol West will assign you a claims agent, who you can look up on the website by using your claim or policy number.
But what do customers think of this process? Reviews are mixed, but for a company whose reputation is lower than average, I found quite a few glowing reviews of the claims process. Take this reviewer, who found it extremely easy to work with their claims agent, attesting to the customer’s loyalty.
And even in situations where the company was on the line for compensation, there were plenty of positive experiences reported. The below policyholder needed extensive care after being hit by an uninsured driver and credits the company with saving their life.
I also found several reviews from customers who were hit by a Bristol West policyholder and were surprised by how easy it was to work with the adjuster and get reimbursed.
But that’s not every customer’s story. Plenty of other reviews highlighted issues in the claims process — as in these two, where customers had trouble getting their claim paid out.
Does Bristol West Offer Other Types of Insurance?
Bristol West doesn’t offer additional insurance products. Instead, the company specializes in personal auto insurance policies. However, you can purchase other insurance products from its parent company, Farmers, and sister company Foremost Insurance. Through this network, you can purchase a wide range of coverages, including:
- Mobile & manufactured home
- Vacation home
- Vacant home and condo
- Commercial auto
- RV, travel trailer, and motor home
- ATV, scooter, snowmobile, and golf cart
- Collectible auto
- Commercial property
- General liability
- Workers’ compensation
- Pet insurance
Bottom Line: Is Bristol West Car Insurance Right for You?
Bristol West is a useful option for high-risk drivers, including those with insurance coverage lapses or past incidents on their record (DUI, multiple speeding tickets, at-fault accidents). While the company doesn’t offer rock-bottom rates, it rarely turns drivers away based on their driving record.
And though the company doesn’t bill itself as a specialist in high-risk policies, it certainly advertises itself as a compassionate and understanding insurer — one that’s ready to do business with you even if you’ve been turned down elsewhere.
And, though rates tend to be higher than average, that doesn’t mean Bristol West will be more expensive for you. The best way to know which company will offer you the best deal is to get quotes from the best options serving your area.
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Bristol West Auto Insurance FAQs
Most consumers know little about the small insurer, so here are some quick answers to the most common questions asked about Bristol West.
Does Bristol West have the cheapest car insurance?
Bristol West’s car insurance rates vary, so it’s essential to compare quotes to find the cheapest auto insurance option.
Does Bristol West offer auto and home insurance bundling?
Yes, Bristol West offers bundling discounts for purchasing multiple policies from it, its parent company, Farmers, or its sister company, Foremost Insurance.
Can you purchase a policy from Bristol West 100% online?
Yes, Bristol West allows you to purchase an auto insurance policy completely online.
Is Bristol West good at paying claims?
Bristol West isn’t currently rated for claims satisfaction, but its parent company, Farmers, has received a higher-than-average score, and the company has a good financial strength rating. Regardless, claims experiences vary widely.
Is Bristol West hard to deal with?
Customer experiences may vary, but many find Bristol West easy to deal with, according to data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Data scientists at Compare.com analyzed more than 50 million real-time auto insurance rates from more than 75 partner insurance providers in order to compile the quotes and statistics seen in this article. Compare.com’s auto insurance data includes coverage analysis and details on drivers’ vehicles, driving records, insurance histories, and demographic information.
All the quotes listed in this article have been gathered from a combination of real Compare.com quotes and external insurance rate data gathered in collaboration with Quadrant Information Services. Compare.com uses these observations to provide drivers with insight into how auto insurance companies determine their premiums.
- Insurance Information Institute, “Facts + Statistics: Auto insurance,” Accessed January 1, 2023
- National Association of Insurance Commissioners, “2019/2020 Auto Insurance Database Report,” Accessed September 16, 2023
- ConsumerAffairs, “Bristol West Insurance,” September 16, 2023
- Trustpilot, “Bristol West Insurance Group,” September 16, 2023
- Yelp, “Bristol West Insurance Group,” September 16, 2023