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State Farm Review

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Our Reviews Last Updated: 12/14/2012

Former State Farm Agent shops around: When good service isn’t the only thing you should look for in a car insurance company.

FULL DISCLOSURE:
I worked as an employee, as an employee of an Agent, and as an Agent of State Farm Insurance.  My dad is still a State Farm Agent.
————-

“Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.”

That may be one of the best taglines in the insurance business. It hearkens back to a time when your insurance agent was just down the street. A time when you might drop by his office on your walk to the post office. It reminds me of a quaint town that may not even exist anymore. That’s the image ‘good neighbor’ insurance conjures up in my mind.

And believe me, they know it.

That’s why they’re now spending millions of dollars trying to convince young consumers they’re not just your father’s insurance company. They’re constantly targeting younger drivers. At the time of this review, a quick look at their main homepage revealed 5 people under 35. I was under 35 when I initially wrote this review – does State Farm have my business? More on that below.

About the Company

State Farm Insurance is one of the oldest auto insurance companies in the United States. Founded by a farmer, G.J. Mecherle, they’ve grown to be the largest private insurance company in the country. Boasting over 75,000,000 policies, they insure more cars than any other company on the planet. AM Best rates most State Farm Companies with a AA rating (very strong).

According to their website, State Farm consists of 13 separate financial services companies. They sell fire, auto, life, and health policies. They also market bank products and investments though the majority of their revenue comes from auto and home policies. State Farm is first and foremost an insurance company.

My Experience as a State Farm Policyholder

I’ve been a State Farm policyholder for as long as I’ve bought car insurance. My dad is still a State Farm Agent. I’ve had accidents, tickets, one reckless and a few cracked windshields as a State Farm policyholder. Overall, I’ve paid more money to State Farm than they’ve ever paid out on me – so I guess that puts them ahead.

Overall, I’ve had a positive experience as a State Farm policyholder. Even though I know a bit about car insurance, State Farm people were very helpful before I started working for them and while I learned the business. Typically, State Farm Agents and their employees know their stuff.

State Farm Positive: Personal Service

State Farm sells and services their policies through their network of 17,000 Agents. Usually, each State Farm Agent has their own office and support staff. I’ve had my insurance with a couple of different agents (besides myself). Both offices in Texas & Washington had superb service. If I had a question on my monthly payments, any coverages, or claim issues, the staff was outstanding.

Not every State Farm policyholder has this good experience. If you’re sold on State Farm but you don’t like your current Agent or their staff, then change Agents. To me, good service is the main thing you’re paying for at State Farm. If you’re unhappy with your Agent, then you’re usually overpaying – big time.

State Farm Negative: Price

Which brings me to State Farm’s #1 weakness: price. I live in Texas. In Texas, my rates are relatively high: Out of 50+ auto insurance companies doing business in the state, State Farm is #25 for price in my age group: Texas Rates.  From my experience and research, this is normal. For whatever the reasons, State Farm car insurance rates are higher than their competition.

That’s one of the reasons State Farm’s advertising highlights their good service. Some people are willing to pay extra money so that the same Agent will pick up the phone anytime they have an insurance question. To them, it’s worth it.

Is State Farm Worth It To Me?

To me, it’s not worth the extra 38% for my monthly premiums. That’s compared to just one of the quotes I got from another reputable auto insurance company.

I’m not married to State Farm. They’ve been a good company, but I’m shopping around. Until they bring their rates in line with some of the other great car insurance companies out there, I’m bringing my business to somebody else.

State Farm might be great for you, but consider the alternatives. Even as a long-term policyholder, I’m glad I shopped my rates. I’ll be saving 38% every month – at least. I hope you can do the same.

Quote Process: 8
(Scale 1-10: 10=the best)

Price: 3
(Scale 1-10: 10=Cheapest)

Customer Service: 9
(Scale 1-10: 10=the best)

Claims: 9
(Scale 1-10: 10=the best)

Overall Rating: 6
(Scale 1-10: 10=the best)

Do you have something to add? Leave a comment or write your own State Farm review.

Esurance Review

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Our Reviews Last Updated: 03/18/2009

How Esurance simplified car insurance with their ‘Quote. Buy. Print.’ and how they’re still turning heads with their spokes-agent, Erin.

Secret Agent/Insurance Agent Erin Esurance

Iconic Secret Agent/Insurance Agent - Erin Esurance

I like what Esurance has done in the car insurance industry. With a few other companies like GEICO and Progressive, Esurance has simplified the auto insurance buying process. They’ve made the old-guard like State Farm and Allstate worried. Sure, there are some problems with that (more below), but I love it when companies make things easier.

Esurance advertising is bold. Somewhere around 2003, someone in marketing asked a question like: “GEICO has a lizard. Why don’t we get a young, pink-haired, undercover secret agent/insurance sales-vixen for our commercials? Let’s call her ‘Erin Esurance.’ What d’ya think, Boss?” That poor-CEO must have had a tough sell when he presented their new mascot to the board. But in marketing, different works today. And today, Erin works for Esurance.

About the Company: Esurance

Esurance was a Silicon Valley start-up in 1998. Ten years later, they’ve become one of the fastest growing insurance companies in the United States. They’re currently owned by White Mountain Insurance Group (WTM), a global insurance holding company.

Esurance sells or re-sells insurance for cars, motorcycles, watercraft, home, renters, health, and even life insurance. They primarily focus on auto and home insurance products, or as the industry likes to call it, property and casualty business. At first, I thought they were just a reseller, but Esurance actually markets their own policies direct to consumers.

Esurance is a financially strong company, although not as strong as many of their larger competitors. According to independent rating agency AM Best, Esurance carries an ‘A-‘ or ‘Excellent’ rating.  They are a stable company with the backing of an even stronger holding company.

Getting an Esurance Quote

In the old days, us consumers went from dingy office to dingy office to get a quote for our car insurance. These days, it’s pretty easy to get an online auto quote. Esurance is one of the reasons why. They are pioneers of internet auto insurance.

Knowing their history, I jumped online for a quick quote. It was simple, straightforward, and, so-long as I knew about the coverages, informative. In less than 5 minutes, I had an auto quote on my screen and one in my email inbox. Esurance rates very well for quote accessibility.

After that, I called them up. It was 7 am and I got Kelly in Nebraska. Evidently, Kelly was an Esurance insurance agent who works out of his home to give quotes to would-be customers. I’ve spoken with many insurance agents. From my experience, Kelly was one of the better ones. He was informative, pleasant, and eager to get my business – never mind that he couldn’t find my online quote in his system. Many call center agents could learn a few things from Esurance Agent Kelly.

When he finally gave me a quote, the price was close to what I got online. At least it was less than what I’m paying right now – which is always good.

Esurance Positive: Simple Car Insurance

Like Progressive, Esurance offers a virtually-frictionless car insurance transaction at their website. If you’re comfortable giving your credit card online, then you can have a policy in a few minutes. There’s no need to go through the extra step of calling. However, to get a better feel for the policy, I don’t discourage the phone call – especially if you’re uncomfortable with all the coverages on the policy.

Esurance Negative: Not a “Centralized” Insurance Company

Car insurance isn’t just about getting a quote. It’s a promise. Will Esurance take care of me if something happens to my car? From what I can tell, they stand behind their product. Independent ratings show them to be a strong company, they lived through the dot-com bust, and emerged a very strong competitor in the auto insurance industry.

And still, it has the feel of an internet company. From the online quote, to the Silicon Valley headquarters, to the agent telecommuting in Omaha, Esurance doesn’t feel like your typical car insurance company. In a way, they feel like an internet bank or like, well, this website. Nothing against their business model, it’s just not like the other guys.

Will I Be Hiring Erin Esurance?

I’m still shopping for car insurance after Esurance. Their price wasn’t enough to make me move from my policy – at least not yet. I may yet hire the pink-haired secret agent – prices change with carriers. After all, I’m shopping because my company is high right now. And yet, I’m still calling around.

Quote Process: 9
(Scale 1-10: 10=the best)

Price: 7
(Scale 1-10: 10=Cheapest)

Customer Service: 8
(Scale 1-10: 10=the best)

Claims: *
(Scale 1-10: 10=the best)

Overall Rating: 8
(Scale 1-10: 10=the best)

Anything to add? Leave a comment about your experience with Esurance or write your own review.

Cheapest Car Insurance in California

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Rates Last Updated: 03/18/2009

Check out the cheapest 25 insurers according to our independent research in the Golden State.

CA State Capitol

California State Capitol

Looking for the cheapest car insurance in California?

If you had to call every insurance company in California, it would be time-consuming task.  But don’t worry.  We collected rates from 40+ insurers and saved you a bunch of time.

Taken from our sample rates in six separate categories of drivers, we’ve compiled a helpful list from the Golden State.  I did not say ‘best’, I just said cheap.

Bear in mind, every driver is different.  What you see below is a sample of drivers ages 20-55, both male and female.  Prices listed are NOT the same as the price you will receive from the companies below, even if you just get liability coverage.

In addition, these are NOT quotes from these companies.  This is a general guide to help you narrow your choices when shopping for car insurance.

Rank

Car Insurance Companies in California

Average Premium

1

Wawanesa

$478.67

2

Mercury

$617.73

3

Metropolitan Direct

$627.60

4

Pacific Specialty

$636.90

5

AAA

$643.53

6

USAA

$656.73

7

Safeco

$663.00

8

GEICO

$669.20

9

Amica Mutual

$669.87

10

California Casualty

$718.33

11

Western United

$727.20

12

Progressive Choice

$727.33

13

Allstate

$737.60

14

Hudson

$737.83

15

Unitrin Direct

$741.93

16

Nationwide

$783.10

17

QBE

$785.87

18

21st Century

$787.60

19

California Capital

$804.10

20

Esurance

$804.73

21

Hartford

$804.77

22

Horace Mann

$811.53

23

American International Ins Co of CA

$818.67

24

GMAC/Integon Preferred

$823.40

25

CSE

$839.40

Note:

Rates collected in 2007-2008.
All data is courtesy of the California Department of Insurance.
For more information, view our Disclosure.

Compare Car Insurance and Win

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Research Last Updated: 08/13/2017

 

4 Secrets to Finding the Best Auto Insurance for the Best Price Every Time

Comparing Car Insurance

Comparing Car Insurance

Before you compare car insurance put down that phone.

It’s 2008.  You don’t have to call every car insurance company in the phone book.  The internet has revolutionized the way we buy things, especially car insurance. Want to compare companies?  It’s never been easier.

No more visiting dingy offices only to be pressured to sign a policy you don’t need.  If you want to compare insurers – you’re in the driver’s seat today.

Just because it’s easy doesn’t mean you can’t mess up.  You need to know a few things about the process while getting quotes.  These four secrets will help you make a smart decision as you compare car insurance quotes.

1.  Where Do I Start?  – Pick a Few Good Companies

The first step to getting the best car insurance at the best price is to find some good auto insurance companies to compare.  Many states have over 50 companies doing business there.  How do you choose which ones to compare?

I recommend finding 3-7 auto insurance companies that advertise.  Why?

Companies that advertise are interested in growing their business.  That’s important since they typically believe retaining current customers is good for business.  That’s why they usually treat you well when you have a claim – when it counts.  If you’ve heard of the company, then they’ve spent money on advertising.  That means they’re a good company to compare.

(If you want more direction, check out our Car Insurance Rates to compare prices for the cheapest companies.)

2.  Get Quotes: Grab Several-Printed Car Insurance Quotes Online

Now you have a several companies (3-7) to compare, it’s time to get some quotes.  If you want to do that online, get your quote here.

Here’s where it gets a little tricky.  Make sure you’re comparing the same quotes.  Determine what kind of coverage you want – state-minimum liability, comprehensive, collision, or whatever.  If you need some help with the details, ask the first company you talk to.  Then, whatever, the first company quotes you…

*Get the same quote from every other car insurance company.*

This is very important.  You’re trying to compare prices for the same thing.  If you compare the same quotes, it’s like going to one grocery story and asking for a price on Gala apples, then going to another store and asking for a price on navel oranges – you can’t accurately compare prices that way.  If other companies won’t meet your quote specifications, they probably don’t want your business.

One word of caution:

A company may quote you the minimum liability coverage, but your car finance company probably requires comprehensive and collision coverage.  Obviously, that quote won’t work in your situation.  Get the right coverage, especially if you’re financing or leasing your car.

 

3.  What About Complaints: Do People Like a Car Insurance Company?

No company is perfect.  But there are several ways to see if a car insurance company is better than others.  For one, check out Our Reviews.  We periodically review auto insurance companies so you can know whether to compare them with others.

Second, check out our Customer Reviews.  Many consumers just like you have left comments on our forum that describe their experiences with other companies.  That’s a great way to compare auto insurance companies.

A final way to review a company is by their complaint ratio.  State Departments of Insurance usually post complaint ratios on their website for every insurance company doing business in their state.  To research a company’s complaint ratio, look them up at your Insurance Department’s website.

4.  The Intangibles: What Really Matters In a Car Insurance Company?

Now it’s time to decide which quote to go with.  Here’s two final things to consider:

Location? Do you want a 1-800 to call every time you have a problem with your auto insurance?  Some consumers like having a local office to visit – others don’t care.  In the same way, do you want to be able to call the same person every time you have a car insurance question?  Consider the relationship factor when you compare auto insurance companies.

Easy Quote? Did you have a good experience when getting your car insurance quote?  If it was painless, that may be a good sign to consider that company – even if the price is slightly higher.  Service counts.  You don’t want problems if you ever have a claim.  Go with the quick, pain-free quote, over the “hold on, let me ask my manager” quote every time.

In the End, You Could Save a Few Hundred Bucks

Follow these steps, and you’re sure to find a company that will save you money.  Plus, the experience you gain will give you a new perspective on your auto insurance.  It will take some time to compare companies.  But you’ll get compensated once you write that first month’s premium check.

Anything I missed? Leave a comment to help other people shopping for comparing auto insurance companies?

Car Insurance For Teens

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Research Last Updated: 10/30/2008

Essential checklist when buying auto insurance for your teenager

A new chapter in your teen's life.

A new chapter in your teen's life.

Ahhh, teen drivers and their car insurance.

It wasn’t so long ago you were in the same seat, ready to show off your new wheels to friends.  But before getting too nostalgic and hand off the keys, you need to get some your teen insured.  Don’t get caught without a policy when they take to the streets.

Buying auto insurance for your teen is not much different from buying it for yourself.  Basics such as picking a reputable company and getting enough coverage to cover your situation still apply when choosing a company.  But there are some essentials you should consider before signing a policy.

Teen Drivers Are Dangerous?

I know, I know…your teenager is a very safe driver.  But I’m not talking about your teenager.  I’m talking about all the other dangerous, young, hormone-driven motorists on the road.

Fact is, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 16-year-olds are nearly six times more likely to get into accidents than drivers aged 30-59.  To a car insurance company that translates into one thing: higher premiums.  Know that you will pay more for the teen driver in your household.  But that’s only part of the story.

Help Your Teen on the Road to Success

The scary part is that auto insurance rates can go up from there.  One at-fault accident and your perfect angel’s rates could jump 10%…or more!   That’s why it’s important to help your young driver get experience.

Take frequent trips with them at the wheel.  The more they drive with you, the more comfortable they will be at the wheel.  This will help them, but it will also help you when you’re mailing in your premium check.

On the flip side: if your teenager bucks the trend keeps a clean record (no accidents & no tickets), many companies offer additional discounts.  Make sure you ask about them when getting quotes.  It never hurts to ask.

Submit Grades for Better Car Insurance Rates

Auto insurance for teenagers is high enough.  Any discount will help lower the burden on your wallet.  That’s why it’s important to submit your teenager’s grades to the company.

Most companies give a good student discount for premiums.  Having your teen maintain a 3.0 GPA or better will help lessen the strain on your checkbook.  Maybe you could pass on some of the savings to your teen – the discount will be more than enough to pay for a movie every policy renewal.  It’s a friendly reminder for them to keep up their grades.

Higher Deductibles Can Save Money for Teen Drivers

If you’re getting full coverage (comprehensive and collision) for your teenager’s car insurance, then you know about deductibles: the higher your deductible, the lower your premium.  In other words, the more financial responsibility you assume for teenage driver, the less you will pay to the car insurance company.

That’s why you should consider upping the deductible on the comprehensive and collision portion of your teenager’s auto insurance.  Instead of a $100 deductibles, consider going to $250 or $500.  Sure, it’s more responsibility for your family – but it could pay for itself in a year.  Put the savings in the bank in case something happens.

Can I Just Add Them To My Policy?

Before collecting auto insurance quotes, ask your current insurer if you can add your teen to your policy.  Some states allow this, while others do not.  Either way, most agents will be able to advise accordingly.

A note of caution: if your teen has a driver’s license, they must be insured on some vehicle.  If your car insurance company doesn’t know about your teen driver, your company could drop your policy – whether or not anything happens.  And you thought it was expensive before, you were cancelled – it’s downright depressing afterward!  If possible, just add your teen driver to your policy when they’re licensed.  It’s the safest, and ultimately cheapest bet.

Before You Hand off the Keys

After you pick up car insurance for your teen driver, they’re almost ready to hit the road.  Help them with the basics behind the wheel – if they get a ticket, make sure they take defensive driving, and if you want to help their sense of responsibility, make them pay some of the premium with a part-time job.  All these things will help you feel more comfortable guiding your teen through their first years of driving.

Now, where are those keys?
Did I miss anything? If you have something to add for other parents, just a leave a comment to help them out.

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Car Insurance Guidebook Unravels the Car Insurance Mystery

Unless you work in the car insurance industry, the topic is probably a mystery to you. The words deductible, comprehensive, collision, liability, premium, loss of use and bodily injury are all gibberish when they reach your ears.

Unfortunately, insurance is something that you are required to have by law if you want to drive. Because of how confusing it is many people go around in almost an insurance daze while they get car insurance quotes from the auto insurance companies that they have heard of. In reality, they are completely lost as to what they are actually buying.

Instead of looking at what each insurance company offers in the terms of protection for both themselves and their car, they are instead looking for cheap car insurance. Finding the cheapest car insurance coverage makes having to buy the required product all that much less painful, but misses the whole point of having insurance.

Learning about insurance through your insurance agent or websites like Car Insurance Guidebook will give you the upper hand when you looking for car insurance. You can take your knowledge and not only find the best price for insurance, you can use it to find really great insurance to protect you and your assets. Then you aren’t stuck settling for just average car insurance that can hurt you financially if you ever need it because there isn’t enough protection.

For example, when looking for insurance the car insurance rates are just the first of many factors that need to be taken into account when you are shopping around for car insurance. You also need to take into account the type of vehicle that you are driving. Many people don’t know this.

Are you driving around a vehicle that is a new sedan and can be protected under any blanket insurance policy? Or do you have an old car that you fixed up that needs special protection and could be better covered under classic car insurance?

Don’t just assume that when you compare car insurance that it will be a one-size-fits-all policy. This is where the insurance knowledge will come in handy; you will know what you need to protect yourself and your vehicle.

You will understand what your insurance agent is talking about when they use insurance terms and you will actually be able to make an informed decision. This is much better for you instead of the “nod and smile” approach people take in their insurance agent’s office.

Also just like your life changes your insurance needs will change. This year you may just need to learn about the best deductible to have. Next year you may need to educate yourself on car insurance for young drivers. As the years pass, motorcycle insurance may be something you will need to know.

Many wise people say that you never stop learning, so take their advice and educate yourself on the insurance that you spend a lot of money on and can’t get away with not having.