National Auto Insurance Company Review

Automobiles have been a part of American society for about a century now and in today’s society, they are an essential part of everyday American lives. Although in big cities, mass transportation systems such as subways, buses and metros have been developed, most average Americans get to and from work through the means of automobiles. It is for this reason that the Federal Government decided to allow each state to design its own automobile insurance laws, so that they could have a say about under which conditions an automobile was to be used within their respective state borders. With the population of the United States growing everyday and more and more people entering this great country, it is imperative that Americans have automobile insurance so they can drive safely and without risk on the roads of this nation.

Nowadays, most people can find an automobile insurance company within a 25 mile radius from their residence. While there are big car insurance companies such as GEICO, Allstate, and others that are trying to get bigger in order to control this sector of the economy; there are some other ones that are unknown nationally and work within their state’s borders. In this article we will only be discussing those “top dogs” in the auto insurance business by looking at their history, what they offer and how they have become well known through the years.

Esurance: Although this company was founded only in 1999 through the Internet, they have progressed much through the years. The company started in four states and it was quickly bought by the White Mountains Insurance Group. Today, Esurance claims to insure about 85% of the nation’s drivers and they are continuing to grow by providing coverage in 28 states. Since they were founded, this company has strived to give customers the best rates in the market with the best coverage. They pride in their customer service techniques and on the fact that their customer service agents are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This insurance is said to be the first one to offer their products entirely online, making it a little easier and convenient for people to get quotes and enroll from the comfort of their own home of office. The company has grown so much that they have expanded to offer not only automobile coverage, but also life, health, homeowner and motorcycle insurance.

GEICO: One of the biggest automobile insurance companies in the United States, GEICO is best known for their little gecko talking in a British accent, or for the caveman commercials that highlight the fact that getting a quote online is “so easy a caveman can do it.” The Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO) was founded in the 1930’s when the Great Depression was still hitting this great nation. Leo and Lillian Goodwin started the company in the state of Texas because they had a vision of lowering premiums for selected customers. The company became more and more famous around the United States and it was in 1936 that they established operations in Washington D.C. Nowadays, the company is functioning in all the states and its assets have climbed up to a record $21.9 billion. They have an estimated 7 million members, 21,000 associated in 12 major locations nationwide. This incredible growth has been due to three key elements that GEICO focuses on: excellent coverage, low prices and outstanding customer service.

Allstate: With their motto “You are in good hands” this company strives to be the best by giving their customers peace of mind and enriching their quality of life through the excellent management of their risks. The company was founded in 1931 and it only became a public trading company in 1993. Based in Northbrook, Illinois; Allstate is one of the nation’s leading insurers in urban and regional areas and it has offices in all of the states of the nation. They pride in the various numbers of awards they have won through out the years and because they have supported auto and highway safety reforms including seat belts, air bags and teen driver education. A Fortune 100 company with $157.5 billion assets, the Allstate Corporation encompasses more than 70,000 professionals with near 30% minorities and 59% women. The company provides insurance products to an estimate 17 million automobiles and one out of every 9 autos on the road are insured by them

SF Insurance: This Company was founded in 1922 by a retired farmer and insurance salesman by the name of George Jacob Mecherle. He started the company for the sole purpose of lowering automobile insurance premiums for farmers, because he knew they drove way less than the average customer. Today, SF Insurance claims to insure more cars than any other auto insurance company in North America and it is available in all 50 states and in the neighbor country of Canada. In 2006, the company became the first to promote a major film, when they sponsored the Pixar movie CARS and they have extended to life, homeowner and property insurance. The company has over 17,000 agents and 68,000 employers that help over 76 million customers in every single type of insurance imaginable. They are ranked A+ by A.M. Best and they are also 31st in the list of Fortune 500 list of largest companies.

Nationwide: Another “top dog” of automobile insurance in the United States. The company was founded in 1925 by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation in order to provide excellent low-cost rates for rural drivers in the state and in the span of 80 years Nationwide has been transformed from a small automobile insurance for Ohio farmers to a big company that receives an estimated $157 billion in assets. Nowadays, Nationwide is not only an auto insurance provider; but it offers financial services as well. They are known for excellence in their service simply because their associates have a variety of skills, experiences and backgrounds that make them more compatible to their customers. The company is ranked 104 on the Fortune 500 magazine and has about 36,000 employers. Is also of note to mention that Nationwide ranks as the 6th largest auto insurance company in the United States based on premium ratings as ranked by A.M. Best.

Best P&C Insurance Companies – How Do You Find the Best?

In 2008, The Department of Insurance of the State of New York released a report showing the 40 P&C insurance companies that had the most complaints. We did an article about this previously. We showed the ten worst companies, the ones that got the most complaints. But we did not feature the ones that got the least number of complaints in New York, a tough insurance market.

Here is the list of New York’s best P&C insurance companies as determined by the least number of complaints, higher number of complaints as you go down the list:

1. Long Island Insurance
2. Infinity Property & Casualty
3. Interboro Mutual
4. Tri-State Consumer Ins. Group
5. American International Group (AIG)
6. Safeco Insurance Group
7. Countrywide Insurance
8. White Mountains Group, OneBeacon, Esurance, Auto One Ins.
9. State Wide Insurance
10. Hannover RE Group, Clarendon National (no longer writing business)

You may find that some of these companies are only local or regional and that you cannot do business with them where you live. But notice that AIG, Safeco, OneBeacon and Esurance are national companies that got fewer complaints.

It’s not as easy to list a Top Ten Best P&C Insurance companies for America. We would have to contact all 50 state Departments of Insurance and find out which insurers had the least complaints. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) presently does not have any such report. In addition, complaints are not the only criteria that should be used to evaluate an insurance company.

Think about this statement, my friends.

The only thing that truly matters about your insurance is what happens when you submit a claim. It doesn’t matter how good your agent is…or if the company sends you a calendar every year…or buys you dinner. It really doesn’t matter if you pay a low premium or a higher premium. Claims handling is EVERYTHING!! Claims are about KEEPING PROMISES. When the insurance companies don’t keep their promises, the complaints pile up!

Lowest premiums are not the only criterion you should use, either. Shopping for insurance is confusing and complicated. Determining if your quotes are “apples and apples” comparisons takes strict attention to detail.

You may need the help of a dedicated, experienced agent to determine your insurance needs and buy the right policy. Still, my recommendation is to shop widely for your insurance needs. Get quotes from captive agents (who only write for one company) and independent agents (who write for multiple companies).

Getting quotes on the internet makes shopping for insurance very easy these days. But look for an insurance quote service that can give you competitive quotes PLUS strategies on submitting insurance claims that will help you collect thousands of dollars more in your claim settlements.

So, which insurance company should you do business with?

1. Choose a company that has an A+ or A rating from the insurance rating services like A.M. Best.

2. Get multiple insurance quotes at least every two years, then choose the company whose policies give you the most coverage for the least money. Don’t worry about company loyalty. The companies don’t care and neither should you.

If you are one of the unfortunate people who experience a loss of any kind, you’ll need to know how to handle your insurance claim so that you maximize your recovery. You will need to know how to take control of your insurance claim, and add hundreds or even thousands more dollars to your claim settlement. For more information, check out the website shown below in the Resource Box.

You can win the insurance game if you have the right information. So go and win!

A Road Map – 10 Steps To Use When Negotiating With Your Insurance Company After A Fire Loss

Can you imagine being on the ski slopes of Lake Tahoe on your families’ winter vacation and getting a cell phone call from your neighbor who is watching the fire department put out huge flames engulfing your home? I can only imagine the horror my CPA felt when she received that call in early January 2007.

From the moment of my interview with Teri, I could feel the pain she was experiencing. “Having the fire in my home was like losing a family member,” she said. “No one prepared me to deal with the loss of my home, twenty two years of family memories, the Insurance Company, the adjustor, the contractors and the day by day struggles of being in two rented homes while ours was being constructed after the fire. My life changed dramatically and it was a full time job coordinating and working with all the parties involved. It consumed my life for over a year.”

As an insurance agent for 30 years, I have had many insureds that have experienced devastating claims—automobile collisions, homeowner burglaries, smoke and fire damages, earthquake damages, life insurance death claims and medical claims. Most can be handled quickly with little involvement by your agent. Some require a road map to navigate through the maze of curves and detours along with the red tape.

In negotiating a claim with your insurance company there are several parties involved–you and your family, the company and your agent, the adjustor, the contractor and subs you choose, the city and insurance inspectors plus various others. The most important of these is your adjustor.

The insurance adjustor (often an independent contractor) works on behalf of the insurance company. The adjustors job is to save money for the company they work with. At the same time, they need to make the customer happy–the line they walk between company and insurance client is a slippery slope. Your job is to work as closely as possible with your adjustor and be prepared.

There is little written on how to get through the difficult process of settling a homeowner fire loss. The following are 10 techniques you need to know to settle your claim. The better prepared you are, the quicker your claim will be settled.

1. Know your policy. It is important to understand what your policy covers. The policy is a contract between you and your insurance company. You are making a demand for payment on the benefits provided by the contract. Make sure you know what is covered, what is not and know the deductibles. Homeowners’ policies usually cover replacement cost of the property but pay a depreciated value until the property is actually replaced. You can expect a settlement check for this reduced value until you physically replace the items. This requires the company to write multiple checks to you, your contractor, your mortgage holder and others that you work with. In California it is important your homeowners policy contain extended replacement cost for code upgrades since the city you live in will require you to upgrade to the newest codes which cost the insurance company more. If you have any questions about the policy, the time to ask is before you make a claim.

2. Report your claim quickly. Call your agent or your companies claims hotline as soon as possible. Your policy may require you make notification within a certain time frame. Getting your agent involved first may help speed things along and get you some personal attention. Do not sit back and wait–keep in touch with your insurance adjustor and contractor by phone or email. Insurance adjustors usually have hundreds of claims to settle at a time. Do not let your claim fall to the bottom of the list. Be patient and calm because an adjustor can work on your behalf or make your life miserable. If your policy contains additional living expenses, you will be given a check quickly for rent and other expenses you incur in the move. You will later have to reconcile these additional living expenses with the actual costs.

3. Make temporary repairs. If your home is damaged make temporary repairs needed to protect your home from further damage. You will have damage done by the fire, the water, and the firemen. Call and hire a damage cleanup specialist, sometimes referred to as a remediation company to help sift through your contents. They will itemize, clean and relocate your contents. Make sure you take photos of the damage done in case it takes the adjustor a few days to get there. These cleanup specialists and repairs are covered by your policy. Just remember not to start any permanent repairs until you are authorized by the adjustor. If you make any temporary repairs make copies of all receipts for your records, in case the adjustor loses them.

4. Document, document, document. Write down dates, times and a summary of conversation every time you speak with the adjustor, meet with the contractor and talk with your agent. Save all receipts for items you buy. These will prove what you had to buy and how much those items cost. Photographs and/or videotapes of your home (both pre and post-disaster) are beneficial to settle the claim. These will help establish an inventory of your belongings should the need arise. It is your “burden to prove” what you had. Send everything the adjustor requests by certified, receipt requested mail and keep copies of everything.

5. Hiring a contractor. It is in your best interest to interview at least 3 different general contractors and get three bids before you select one. The remediation company and the insurance company may recommend a contractor-you do not have to use them. Find a contractor you have worked with or by recommendations from others who have remodeled or had good luck in the past. Interviewing applicants will give you an idea of how well they listen and follow up. They will be another advocate on your behalf with the adjustor. If you choose a flakey contractor, it is not the insurance companies fault so this part of the process is very important. Reimbursement checks will be made payable to you, your mortgage company and the contractor–expect delays in payments. The contractor you use should be aware of this.

6. Expect some delays. The city you live in, the mortgage company and the insurance company will schedule inspections during the course of the rebuild. This takes extra time. Do not expect the insurance company to authorize everything you need and want. The adjustor must justify your expenses to the insurance company they work for. Your policy will not automatically pay for upgrading your home-adding features you didn’t have before the loss. You will pay for these upgrades yourself. If you plan on doing additional work, upgrading kitchen appliances, granite counter tops or wood shutters, be prepared and arrange a home improvement or line of credit with your mortgage company in advance of doing additional work.

7. Avoid using the word “lawyer” or public adjustor. Insurance companies get skittish when you threaten to get a lawyer involved. Once you hire an attorney, the adjuster, the insurance company and your agent will only be able to communicate with the lawyer. This all takes extra time. There are times when a lawyer or public adjustor can be beneficial (i.e. if you are a 3rd party,the mortgagee or not the named insured). You hire and pay for the public adjustor with your money, either in the final payout or out of pocket. They may or may not reduce the time you spend. You will be inundated with well intentioned ambulance chasers–be aware! If you have exhausted your agent, your contractor and your adjustor, call your State Department of Insurance (DOI) and file a formal complaint. Companies do not like complaints and will do all they can to avoid an investigation by the DOI. These DOI are benefits your tax dollars pay for.

8. Make a list of damaged items. Your list needs to include the item damaged, a description, make, model, where it was purchased, the date or age of the item, how many and the purchase price. Any receipts you can gather from prior purchases are helpful. If you have a large claim, this process alone can take weeks but is essential before your claim can be finalized. If you have 15 pairs of pants and 50 shirts, you will replace them with like kind (not suits or dresses). If you have a 30″ TV and want a 50″ TV you are not entitled to the upgrade without paying additional money from your pocket.

9. Get everything in writing. When your company or adjustor makes a determination get it in writing. Never assume NO means NO! Negotiation is always part of the process and this is where both sides become frustrated and stubborn. Be patient, prepared and polite. You can reopen your claim and do not accept final payment until you are satisfied. By working closely with your adjustor, your agent and company, you can win without too many bumps in the road. Make a time line of when you expect things to be completed and follow through. You are your biggest advocate and asset.

10. How long does the process take? Generally speaking, easy claims can be settled in a matter of weeks. Difficult cases may and generally do take much longer – especially when several estimates are needed or your contractor is not ready to perform the repairs right away. Determining an exact amount of time is difficult since every claim has its own facts and circumstances. Try not to have unrealistic expectations of when the matter will be resolved.

When settling your claim remember, as with most things in life, “it is harder than it looks, takes longer than you estimate and costs more than you think”.

In conclusion, Teri had a nightmare most of us never experience. She was in a rented home for over 11 months, had an extra full time job working with her insurance company, her adjustor and contractor. Her claim was settled for a total payment of over $500,000 in a little over 2 years. She was her biggest advocate. She shares these tips because there is little written on how to work with and settle a large insurance loss. Hopefully you will never need this information. If you do, please call our office for advice and any additional information you may need. We have published a booklet, “A Road Map–10 Steps You Need to Know when Negotiating with your Homeowners Insurance Company After a Fire Loss”. Contact [email protected] or go to http://adamsinsuranceagency.com/ for copies.