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Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Our Reviews Last Updated: 08/18/2012

A SAFECO Review – After 88 years SAFECO insurance is still top of its class in Customer Service, but is it enough to get new insurance customers?

Safeco Insurance LogoSAFECO insurance is one of those insurance companies that is large, but very few people have heard of them. This makes our SAFECO review all the more important.

Their decision to purchase the name for the Seattle Mariners ballpark was a brilliant decision on the part of management as it took a virtually unknown company and made them known by their company’s name being repeated over and over across the nation during the baseball season.

But, even with a great marketing move like that, you still have to be able to attract and keep you insurance customers so how is SAFECO doing in that part?

About the Company

Seattle based SAFECO Insurance was founded in 1923 by Hawthorne K. Dent originally under the name The General Insurance Company of America Corporation. It wasn’t until 1953 that the name SAFECO (Selective Auto and Fire Insurance Company of America) came about as a new line of business for the company. Eventually the company as a whole was renamed SAFECO.

Over the years SAFECO grew and eventually acquired American States Financial Corporation to increase its book of business and insurance lines that it wrote. In 1998, the name SAFECO became known around the nation when it purchased the naming rights to the Seattle Mariners new ballpark, now known as SAFECO Field.

After a number of up and down years fiscally, SAFECO was purchased by another company in 2008 and is now part of the Liberty Mutual Group.

Quote Process

Getting a quote from SAFECO was an interesting process. The preferred method by SAFECO to obtain a quote is to go through an independent insurance agent that writes SAFECO insurance. I decided to bypass this as getting a quote from an agency would be more of me reviewing the agency and how they handle the quote process and not how SAFECO handles it.

Being of the internet generation I went straight to to get a quote online. The system walked me through step by step and got my information and then came up with a figure at the end. The amount was higher than what I pay for insurance with my current company even after I manually figured in a homeowners discount and the longevity discount we get. I was also concerned about how far off this quote was because I never put in my Social Security Number, the VIN number to my vehicles or my driver’s license number.

Two days later I called SAFECO at their call center (1-800-4SAFECO) to get a new quote, curious if this one would be the exact same. The person I talked to pulled up the quote that I got online just by using my name. Not only did he give me a better rate, he also gave me quotes with and without the homeowner’s discount, with and without an advanced quote discount and talked to me about a number of different discounts. He was very thorough with the rates and the discounts, but not with the coverages.

SAFECO Positives: Customer Service

Customer service in an insurance company encompasses all departments and not just the department that I ended up in to get my insurance quote. But, as far as the customer service that I had contact with during my quote process, I was very pleased. The Customer Service Agent that I spoke with was friendly and engaged in small talk while working on my quote. He explained to me what he was doing and explained how he was able to get driving and claim records by my name and address when he did not ask for Social Security Numbers, VIN numbers or my husband’s driver’s license. He also answered my many questions without making me feel like I was being a bother to him.

SAFECO Negatives: Online Pre-quotes

The premium that I was quoted online ended up being about 150.00 higher than the options that the Customer Service Agent offered me when I called in for a quote. This is not a good thing for SAFECO or the person seeking the quote. After I received the online quote I logged off the online quoting system and would never have given SAFECO a second thought.

This means that I would have missed out on an insurance policy that was actually cheaper than what I am paying now with my current carrier and SAFECO could have lost a potential client.


Other than working in the claims department for SAFECO prior to it being acquired by Liberty Mutual, I have had no claims experience with this company. J.D. Power and Associates has SAFECO ranked as only “about average” when compared to other insurance companies.


When I got my online quote switching to SAFECO was the last thing on my mind. The rates I was quoted online were higher than what I am paying now for my auto insurance with my current carrier and from my previous working experience with SAFECO this sounded right from what I remembered about their rates. I never would have called the contact center for an additional quote if I was not creating a review for SAFECO.

At this time, I am still up in the air about SAFECO and if we will make the switch or not.

Quote Process: 5

(Scale 1-10: 10=the best)

Price: 8

(Scale 1-10: 10=the cheapest)

Customer Service: 10

(Scale 1-10: 10=the best)

Claims: *no rating

Overall Rating: 7

(Scale 1-10: 10=the best)

Nationwide Review

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

If life comes at you fast, maybe you should worry about your auto insurance. Is Nationwide a good choice?

Is Nationwide on your side?

Is Nationwide on your side?

Car Insurance can be a pretty boring topic. That’s why you gotta love Madison Avenue’s attempt to make things more interesting. Such is the case with Nationwide Insurance’s “Life Comes At You Fast” commercials. From radio to TV spots, they’re always good for a laugh. I found out later that not everyone appreciates the lighter side of insurance – more on that below.

But the more important question is: how good is Nationwide auto insurance?

About the Company

Nationwide has a good reputation in the industry. Started in 1925 as Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, Nationwide outgrew their home state of Ohio in a few short years.

As the name implies, Nationwide is now a big company. They currently insure cars in 50 states including the District of Columbia. They are the 4th largest auto insurance company measured by premiums collected. According to their website, they are #106 of the Fortune 500 and boast over 35,000 employees.

With all the uncertainty with financial services companies, it’s important to know how strong Nationwide is. In March of 2008, A.M. Best rated Nationwide Insurance with an A+ for financial strength – it’s their 2nd highest rating. From the looks of it, Nationwide won’t be going bust anytime soon.

Getting a Nationwide Online Quote

So with their reputation in the industry and their commercials that make me smile, I decided to get a quote from Nationwide. To save time, I recommend doing what I did. First off, I grabbed an online quote. Second, since it made sense, I called them on the phone with my online quote in hand.

To start, I grabbed my current auto insurance policy and matched coverages at their website. I input my personal info, then matched the coverages I have with my current policy.

One interesting thing: they apparently pull personal info from a state database. When I was an agent with a different company, we could grab some info from prospects, but it wasn’t as sophisticated as Nationwide’s.

Within a minute, I got back my car insurance quote. However, they did not automatically email me the quote. I guess they expect people to buy right then. Not me. I called instead.

Nationwide Call Center Quote

After waiting a few minutes, I got Jeremy on the phone. He told me he was in a call center  Amarillo, Texas. At the time of this quote, the others call centers were in Portland, Oregon, Des Moines, Iowa, San Antonio, Texas, and Lynchburg, Virginia.

My quote was not saved online, so Jeremy had to ask the same questions again. Despite the technical problems, he did a good job of not making it too painful. As he reviewed my coverages, Jeremy explained what each coverage did. In my mind, this is one of the agent’s most important jobs, so Jeremy passed that test.

Nationwide Positives: Service & Options

First off, Nationwide has both call centers and local offices to service their car insurance policies. I like that. If I want a local office, I can choose a local office. If I want extended hours with 6 days a week policy service, I can choose the call center.

Second, I like the policy options they offer. For one, they have ‘Accident Forgiveness’. In my case, it was an extra $24/term. That means they won’t raise my rates if I have an at-fault accident. Two, they have ‘Diminishing Deductible’. For another $20, I could get $100 off my deductible every year I don’t have an accident. That’s a great coverage for accident-prone customers.

Nationwide Negative: Price

Nationwide could not beat my current car insurance premiums. They were slightly higher even after they gave me a long-term credit for being with my other auto insurance company. According to my state rates, they don’t even show up in the Top-25 cheapest car insurance rates, so I’m not too surprised.

Not to say you won’t get a better rate, especially if you don’t live in Texas. As for me and my premiums, Nationwide was not on my side.

“Life Comes At You Fast” Commercials Drives Calls for Nationwide

So even though I won’t be switching to Nationwide this go around, I’m still impressed with their commercials. I even like them better than GEICO’s. Jeremy told me something interesting. He said people never call him to say they want a quote because they saw Nationwide’s commercials. But, he told me several people have called to complain about them.

I think that’s funny. I guess some people don’t have anything better to do than to harass some guy in a call center for a commercial that makes most people smile. I say, go back to your TV and stop bothering people. Such is life.

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

Price: 4
(Scale 1-10: 10=Cheapest)

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

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

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

Do you have your own experience with Nationwide Car Insurance? Leave a comment or write your own review.

GEICO Review

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Our Reviews Last Updated: 08/17/2012

Did I really save 15% on my car insurance by switching to GEICO? – My GEICO Review

GEICO Trademark

For anyone shopping for car insurance, who hasn’t seen the GEICO lizard?

Probably about as many people who haven’t been to a grocery store. The talking Cockney gecko is about as well known as peanut butter and jelly. And to think, before 1999 – he didn’t even exist. Such is the power of modern advertising.

Stripping away the creative façade of cavemen, celebrity spokespeople and promises of 15% savings, is GEICO all it’s cracked up to be? Read on to find out.

About the Company – GEICO Review

GEICO, or Government Employees Insurance Company, is a popular car insurance company in the United States. Bought by Warren Buffett’s holding company in 1996, GEICO is now owned by Berkshire Hathaway. According to their website, GEICO boasts 8,000,000 policyholders as of 2007 – no small accomplishment for this business.

GEICO does not have an agency force in the community like other companies. Aside from the occasional offices in metropolitan areas, the majority of quotes, policy service, and claims work is handled over the phone via call centers.

As for financial strength, GEICO is strong. According to independent agency AM Best, GEICO rates a superior ‘A++’, their highest rating. Other services give GEICO a similar rating. According to those in the know, GEICO will be around for awhile.

Getting a GEICO Quote

Knowing their reputation, I wanted to get a quote from GEICO. To save time, I usually recommend what I did. First off, grab an online quote. Second, if it makes sense, call them on the phone with the online quote. Here’s how I did it.

To start, I grabbed my current auto insurance policy. Second, I jumped online, to fill out their questionnaire. I input my personal info, then matched my coverages to my current policy. GEICO shot back my quote 10 seconds after I clicked ‘Submit’ – very fast. Since GEICO’s price was much better than I’m paying now, I called them up.

GEICO Positives: Availability & Price

After being transferred to the right person, I started talking to Holly S. in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She told me she was in one of several call centers across the country. I called at night and, out of curiosity, asked her if someone would have picked up the phone at 3 am. According to Holly, she assured me GEICO would have answered the line.

Availability strikes me as a great positive for a car insurance company. If GEICO is willing to pick up the phone to give me a quote at 3 in the morning, then they’re probably willing to pick up the phone to fill out my claim at 3 in the morning.

GEICO quoted me a great rate online. Fortunately, there was no bait-and-switch when I called Holly in Virginia Beach. What they quoted online, they honored on the phone. That’s a huge benefit, especially as it relates to the integrity of their sales force.

One caveat to their pricing: GEICO seems to give a ‘best guess’ rate without asking for your social security number online. After you talk to them, they confirm the price. If your credit matches what you said online, then you get the rate. If not, the price probably goes up.

GEICO Negative: Pushy?

I had one problem with confirming my phone quote. Holly was a little pushy. She did not ask me about my personal insurance situation and went right for the close. This was a little unnerving to me as a former insurance agent. I would have liked her to walk me through the coverages, instead of just trying to take my order. Holly was definitely assertive, but she was polite.

What about GEICO’s Service?

I looked at complaint ratios at a few major departments of insurance. Consumer complaints are either average, or below average compared to other auto insurance companies. No company is perfect, but GEICO seemed to meet a basic level of service for their customers. On a claims basis, I felt comfortable carrying my car insurance with GEICO.

I ended up getting GEICO after shopping around for awhile. I’ve had them for over a year now (Sept 2009). I’ve called them a few times and they’ve been very responsive. I even dropped by their office in my town to re-add comprehensive to my truck. They were helpful and friendly. I didn’t like how they made me come by their office for that basic service. Seems like they could have sent out an agent to do an inspection. Oh well.

I can say this. They were extremely responsive when I got a new insurance card.

Did I save 15% on my Car Insurance by switching to GEICO?

Their reputation, availability, and price, all contribute to a good feeling of going with the gecko. As for saving 15% on my car insurance. When I signed up with GEICO, I saved +20% on my car insurance premiums compared to State Farm.

Way to go GEICO!

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

Price: 9
(Scale 1-10: 10=Cheapest)

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

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

Overall Rating: 9
(Scale 1-10: 10=the best)

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

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.

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.

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