Auto-Owners Insurance Company car insurance review September 2018
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Speak to the same person every time you pick up the phone thanks to this provider’s personalized service.
If you drive a car, you need insurance coverage — but picking a provider isn’t always simple. The market is brimming with options, and the best one for you comes down to what you value most, whether it’s bundling policies, paying a low premium or agents close to home.
With its headquarters in Michigan, Auto-Owners Insurance Company has been in the game for over 100 years. The Fortune 500 company is a regional insurer and sells car insurance in 26 states across the US. It works exclusively through local agents and consistently takes one of the top spots in customer satisfaction surveys, giving it an edge over some national competitors. Along with personalized attention, the company has an attractive discount program for good students and safe drivers.
Auto-Owners has a highly personalized approach to business in that every policyholder has a one-on-one relationship with an agent. If you like the idea of talking to the same person for everything — from getting a quote to filing a claim — then you might value this insurance company. It’s also an appealing choice for safe drivers, who can save money with True Ride, Auto-Owners’ innovative smart-driving app.
While Auto-Owners’ local angle is attractive to many people, it means the company isn’t as tech-savvy as its competitors. Policyholders can’t get a quote, apply for coverage or file a claim online, which is unusual. The insurer only operates in 26 states, meaning it isn’t ideal for those who live outside these states:
What is Auto-Owners Insurance Company?
Established in 1916, Auto-Owners Insurance Group began as a one-room operation in Michigan. The company branched out to Indiana in 1935 and continued adding new states over the next few decades. Today, it’s a Fortune 500 company that writes insurance policies in 26 states across the US and is represented by more than 44,000 local agents. In 2017, its net written premiums totaled over $3.5 billion.
In the 1940s, Auto-Owners expanded into property and casualty insurance. It has subsidiary companies that are committed to different lines of insurance, such Auto-Owners Insurance Company, Auto-Owners Life Insurance and Property-Owners Insurance Company.
One of the largest insurers in the US, Auto-Owners is a mutual insurance company, meaning its success is hinged on its customer service. Its local agent model has proven to be a hit, with customers appreciating the one-on-one relationship they have with their insurance contact.
The company puts an emphasis on culture and has been certified by Great Place to Work, which uses data and insights to analyze the quality of a company’s challenges, atmosphere, rewards, pride, communication and bosses. It’s also known as the official insurance sponsor of 2017 NASCAR Cup Series Champion, Martin Truex Jr.
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What car insurance coverage does Auto-Owners offer?
Auto-Owners offers a pretty standard suite of coverage, along with extras that can enhance the value of your policy — often at no extra charge.
Collision. Covers the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle after a collision, whether you’re at fault or not. Comprehensive. Helps to pay for damages to your car caused by things other than collision, such as fire, vandalism, extreme weather, theft and accidents with animals.
Bodily injury and property damage liability. Takes care of the costs if you injure people or damage their property in an accident. It also contributes to your legal defense if you’re sued as a result.
Uninsured (UI) and underinsured motorist (UIM). So you’re not slapped with a bill for an accident that’s not your fault, this coverage pays for injuries or damage caused by someone who has little to no insurance.
Medical payments. An optional add-on, this covers the medical, hospitalization and rehabilitation expenses for you and your passengers after an accident. Before saying “yes,” check out your health insurance policy, as it may already have this provision.
Personal injury protection (PIP). Legally required in some states, PIP pays for a portion of medical care, lost wages and replacement services in the event of an accident. It doesn’t take into account who’s at fault.
Road trouble service. Access 24/7 towing and roadside assistance when driving in all 50 states plus Canada.
Additional expense. Stranded after an accident? This coverage kicks in to help pay for a rental car, as well as food, lodging and other incidental expenses.
Loan gap and lease gap. Do you lease your car? If you get into an accident, you’re liable for the difference between the current value of your car and the amount you owe on your lease or loan. Auto-Owners’ gap coverage pays that balance.
Diminished value. After an accident, your car may be deemed to be worth less, even after repairs. If that’s the case, this coverage compensates you for that loss of value.
Rental cars. When driving a rental car, you’re covered for the broadest coverages and limits on your policy, as well as other fees the rental car company could charge.
Collision coverage advantage. The company will waive your collision deductible if you’re involved in an accident with a vehicle insured with Auto-Owners. And any damage caused by a collision with an animal is covered by either comprehensive or collision coverage — whatever pays you most.
Common loss deductible. This applies to those who bundle their auto and home insurance with Auto-Owners. If both your car and home are damaged in an accident, the insurer reduces the auto deductible by the amount of the personal property deductible, or waive it altogether.
Personal automobile plus package. Unique to Auto-Owners, this option elevates the standard car insurance policy. It adds 10 perks to protect you from paying for expenses incurred due to identity theft, lost or damaged cell phones, lock rekeying, legal expenses and damaged or stolen audio and video equipment. Those coverages can’t be purchased on their own. While this package increases your premium, it does offer a lot of value.
What discounts can I get with Auto-Owners?
To stay competitive, Auto-Owners applies a range of attractive discounts to its policies you might qualify for.
Multi-policy discount. While many insurers offer auto and home discounts, Auto-Owners stands out by offering a deep discount if you combine just about any pair of its policies, including auto and life, or auto and umbrella. You’ll also save on your premium if you insure more than one car with the company.
Payment history discount. Paid your premiums on time for the past 36 months? You’ll be rewarded with a discount.
Paid-in-full discount. If you pay your annual policy premium in full and on time, you can save money in the long run.
Green discount. Auto-Owners offers a discount to customers who enroll in paperless billing and pay their premiums online.
Advance quote discount. It pays to be proactive — this discount applies to new applicants who request a quote before the effective date of the policy.
Safety feature discount. Is your car equipped with anti-lock brake systems, airbags or anti-theft devices? You might qualify for a discount.
Favorable loss history. If you have a clean claims history, Auto-Owners may reduce your premium.
Good student discount. Maintain a B or better grade-point average, and score a discount of up to 20%.
Student away-at-school discount. Students who attend a school more than 100 miles away from home and don’t have a car of their own are eligible for this discount.
Teen driver monitoring discount. Does your teen drive your car? If you install a GPS monitor, Auto-Owners might lower your premium.
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What is TrueRide by Auto-Owners?
TrueRide is Auto-Owners’ smartphone app that rewards safe drivers. You’ll get a discount just for enrolling in this optional program. Once you activate the app on your iPhone or Android, it records your driving behavior in real time, whether the app is open or not.
The technology clocks your mileage and the smoothness of your driving, including harsh acceleration or braking, as well as the time of day and the type of road you’re on — from major highways to local roads. Your score is updated with each drive, and at your first renewal, your agent will use the most recent number to determine your discount, which can range from 0% to 35%.
You can opt out of the program at any time, but you will lose the discount that comes with it.
What’s not covered by Auto-Owners?
Auto-Owners keeps its limitations under wraps until you apply for a policy. If you own a luxury, classic or exotic car, the quickest way to find out if it qualifies for coverage is to give the company a call.
Of course, if you’re outside the 26 states the carrier services, you should continue to compare car insurance providers.
Are there any coverage maximums?
Maximums depend on your policy and where you live. While Auto-Owners doesn’t disclose this information, similar providers suggest coverage of 250/500/250, which pays up to $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident, plus $250,000 in property damage.
Pros and cons of Auto-Owners car insurance
Local agents. As a policyholder, your local agent is your first point of contact. That agent manages your case from start to finish, and takes care of quotes, claims and renewals.
Satisfactory claims process.Auto-Owners ranks highly for customer satisfaction, mostly due to its speedy claims processing. There are 100 claims offices in 26 states, and local agents handle policyholders’ claims personally.
Safe driving incentive. The company’s smartphone app, TrueRide, captures real-time data to offer significant discounts for safe driving.
Multi-policy bundling. Auto-Owners goes above and beyond with bundling, offering reduced premiums for unusual policy pairings, such as auto and life, or even auto and umbrella.
Customer center. While basic, the online portal allows you to pay bills, review your account information and check the status of a claim.
24/7 roadside assistance. While basic, the online portal allows you to pay bills, review your account information and check the status of a claim.
Financially strong. The insurer holds an A++ rating with A.M. Best, meaning it has the cash reserves to pay out claims and remain financially solvent.
Limited reach. Despite being in the business for over a century, the auto insurer only services 26 states.
No live chat. Unlike many of its competitors, Auto-Owners’ website doesn’t have a chat function.
No online quoting system. Policies are sold exclusively through agents, so you can’t get a quote through its site.
Inability to file a claim online. You can’t submit a claim online — though you can monitor it afterwards. What’s more, the company has short business hours, which means you might have to leave your agent a voicemail.
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What do customers say about Auto-Owners Insurance Company?
Auto-Owners Insurance Company has been accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 2016 and has an A+ rating. For such a large company, its complaints are minimal. As of this writing, the BBB has handled 97 complaints over the last three years, most of which were linked to advertising and problems with the product and service.
While the insurer has room for improvement, it’s known for its standout customer service. This can be attributed to its local agent model. Every policyholder has a one-on-one relationship with an agent, who not only knows the ins and outs of the area, but also of the individual’s policy. Customers seem to appreciate the familiarity and that they don’t need to go through centralized call centers.
In J.D. Power’s 2017 Auto Insurance Study, Auto-Owners took the top spot in the Central, Florida and North Central regions. It also ranked 2 out of 15 insurers in the Southeast region. The company scored “among the best” for overall customer satisfaction, billing, pricing and policy offerings.
How to apply
Auto-Owners only operates through local agents, so you’ll need to contact an agent near you to apply.
Go to the Auto-Owners Insurance Company’s site.
On the main navigation bar, click Find an Agent.
In the Find an Agent box, type in your address or ZIP code and press Enter.
Choose an agent from the list.
Contact the agent via phone or email to express your interest in getting a quote or applying for a policy.
What info do I need to apply?
When your local agent gets in touch, you’ll need:
Your driver’s license number
Details on your driving history, including violations, accidents and claims
The car or cars you want to insure
The nominated drivers for each car
How to find an Auto-Owners Insurance agent near me
Head to its site, and click Find an Agent in the top navigation bar. Enter your address or ZIP code, and a list of local agents will pop up.
Collect the name, address, driver’s license number, insurance info and license plate number of the other driver or drivers involved in the accident. If there are witnesses, ask for their names and addresses, too.
Take photos or videos of all the vehicles involved.
Call your local Auto-Owners agent. If it’s an emergency and you can’t reach your agent after business hours, call the after-hours hotline at 888-252-4626. The service is available on weekdays from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. Eastern standard time, and 24 hours a day on weekends and holidays.
Your representative will ask for details about the accident as well as any evidence, and then they’ll walk you through the claims process.
How to contact Auto-Owners Insurance Company
For help with claims, billing or anything policy-related, Auto-Owners pushes you to get in touch with your local agent. Otherwise, you can contact the customer service team via:
Email. Scroll down to the bottom navigation bar on the homepage and click Contact Us. On that page, you can fill in an email form.
Phone. Call 517-323-1200, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern standard time.
Fax. Send a fax to 217-323-8796.
Mail. Send mail to the corporate office: 6101 Anacapri Blvd, Lansing MI, 48917.
For towing and roadside assistance, call 888-869-2642. It’s available 24/7 for covered customers.
Does Auto-Owners Insurance Company offer other types of insurance?
Though car insurance is its core offering, Auto-Owners and its subsidiaries cover just about everything.
Home insurance — homeowners, condo, renters, mobile home and farm
Specialty auto insurance — ATV, boat, motorhome, RV, trailer and motorcycle
Life insurance — term and permanent, annuities, long-term care and disability
What are some alternatives to Auto-Owners Insurance Company?
When you’re shopping around for auto insurance, look at Progressive and Esurance. Both will lower your premium if you bundle policies.
And if you’re searching for providers who reward you for safe driving and maintaining that clean driving record, look into National General and Ameriprise.
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Auto-Owners has been in the biz for more than a century, and it consistently tops the lists for customer satisfaction. It has one foot in the past, and one in the future. Its site is basic and unable to offer real-time help or claims filing, yet its TrueRide app for smart drivers is incredibly innovative. And while it only operates in 26 states, it has local agents in each, meaning customers get personalized attention.
Auto-Owners’ policies offers a good value and attractive discounts that help to offset the cost of agent-driven insurance. If you’re looking to bundle your insurance or make your good grades count, it’s worth calling for a quote.
It depends on your budget and driving confidence. The higher your deductible, the lower your premium. But if you get into an accident, you’ll pay more out of pocket. With a lower deductible, your monthly premium will be more expensive, though you won’t have to fork out as much if you file a claim.
Insurance follows the car, not the driver. So if someone lets you borrow their car, they’re also allowing you to to drive on their auto insurance. And if you get into an accident, that person’s auto insurance will kick in first to cover any damages. Your own policy offers secondary coverage in case the owner of the vehicle doesn’t have auto insurance or doesn’t have enough to pay the damages.
If you’re self-employed and use your car for business purposes, you may be able to take a tax deduction for those miles only. For example, if you’re a traveling sales professional who drives 40,000 miles for business and 40,000 miles for personal reasons a year, your deductible will cover half of that overall use.
Yes. Your insurer can drop your policy if you fail to pay your premiums or your license is suspended or revoked. It can also cancel your coverage if it discovers you lied on your application or filed a fraudulent claim.
A low credit score could lead to a higher premium except in states where it’s illegal for an insurer to base its rates on your credit score: California, Hawaii and Massachusetts.
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Katia is a freelance writer from sunny Sydney, Australia. Her writing — and curiosity — has taken her around the world, and she now calls chaotic, creative New York home. She navigates insurance and finance for Finder, so you can splash your cash smartly (and be a pro when the subject pops up at dinner parties).
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