Tell me about car insurance

This was originally going to be a pitting of my present auto insurance agent. He’s had to do next to nothing so far except collect my checks for 15 years. Turns out, next to nothing isn’t good enough for him, he had absolutely nothing in mind. I once took another driver to small claims court when his company refused to pay for my damages (he was at fault) without involving my company because the agent told me it would increase my rates. The last straw came today when I learned he hadn’t taken my daughter off my insurance as I requested when she left for college. I learned this when I got a notice from the head company asking me to verify that she still qualifies for a good student discount. When I called him about it, he hemmed and hawed and said that he typically doesn’t take college age kids off their parents’ policies because so many college students go to local schools and they drive their parents’ cars all the time. Well, my kid is over 800 miles away and isn’t driving at all - which is what I told him when I specifically asked him to remove her in August.

But no……I’m not going to dwell in the past; I’m just going to switch companies, or at least agents. Has anybody had had good experiences with their auto insurance provider? Any horror companies that should be avoided at all costs. How much insurance does a typical driver need anyhow?

Please tell me your car insurance experiences - good and bad

The only real problem with car insurance I ever had with with Travelers’, but I understand that the particular problem I had is widespread within the industry; namely, the practice of canceling policies once you make two or three claims on them. I’d never had to make a claim before Travelers’, and I haven’t since I left, but there were two things that happened to my car when I lived in Houston. The first thing was hail damage and a big dent in the hood when the storm knocked a fair-size tree branch down onto it, and the second was when somebody backed into the driver’s-side door while it was parked in a lot. Both events? Totally not my fault. However, after the second, Travelers’ canceled my policy anyway, and it was very difficult to find another company to use. I’m with Safeco now; they’ve been fine, but then again I haven’t had to make any claims yet.

Car insurance sucks. It’s expensive, and all the insurers really want to do is take your money and not give you anything in return. Avoid Travelers’ though.

Let’s see if I can do this, without putting this instantly into the BBQ Pit…

In August of 2003, I received a friendly reminder notice that my monthly premium was due. Pretty typical, and usually a good thing, as I paid 4 months out of 6, and trying to remember which months I don’t got tricky.

I decided that I would pay August & September together, because the month of September was incredibly busy. So I mailed 2 checks for 2 months, and promptly forgot about it.

Mid-October rolls around, and I get a notice in the mail. It reads:

“Your coverage has been terminated at your request.”

WTF??? I didn’t terminate it. I paid the coverage. I know I did!!

So, phone calls are made, voice mails are ignored, and messages are exchanged.

Finally, I get hold of my underwriter (not the agent, he was useless), and she informs me that “You had an overage in August. A check was cut for that month, and no payment for September had been made.” I explained the situation (again. This was the 5th time), and added that we had not received the check.

I get a “That’s not our problem. You didn’t pay, and we’re not renewing your coverage.”

WTF, again???

More phone calls are made, more voice mails are ignored, and I finally raise the roof. Tom, the Customer Service director finally answers his phone (accidentally, I’m sure).

He researches this, and discovers that the September payment was received on August 28th. The return check was cut on September 10th. On September 11th, the company generated my renewal for the next 6 months. In other words, my money was ONE FREAKING DAY TOO EARLY!!!

At this point, we just want insurance, so that there is no gap in coverage. MN insurance companies don’t like gaps in coverage when you try to apply for new insurance.

The best compromise they can offer is to reinstate coverage effective the 15th of November; leaving me with a gap in my car insurance of nearly 2 months. I wind up taking it, mostly because I need insurance on my car in case something does happen.

Tom’s final words to me after getting the new policy issued was; “Now, please don’t pre-pay us again. It really doesn’t work too well with our system.”

I won’t post my response, other than:


The clincher to this whole tale is that I received the overpayment check on November 2nd. Tom & I finished cleaning this up on the 4th of November. No one could explain why the check took so long to be received.

This made me go actively looking for better insurance, when I was content to ignore it before. I found a policy for half what I was paying this company.



My company is Donegal Insurance of Marietta, PA. They write my commercial MV, and have been very good to me. I whacked a deer, got an estimate from a body shop, and a check arrived, payable to me within a few days. A meathead rear-ended me, ditto as above. A friend has a small fleet for his business, uses them and claims they can’t be beat regarding rates-I’m getting full coverage with a high deductable for $1K/yr. My insurance agent is a multi-line broker and hasn’t found a cheaper game in town.

Nothing but good things to say about my car insurance company. Of course, I work for them. And am fully trained in how to administer the auto insurance policy I pay for. I get no unexpected surprises and thus no dissatisfaction. Probably not a practical solution for everyone though. I DO highly recommend enrolling in insurance licensing classes for EVERYONE, however. As part of the continuing education of every ignorance-averse adult. You get a better idea of WHY the policies perform like they do and why claims have, or don’t have, the effects they do.

I treat my job as a claims guy more like that of a teacher. If my customers seem at all confused about what I’m doing for them, or NOT doing, I pick up on it and explain WHY. Good agents do the same thing. Not all agents are any good–irrespective of the company they sell for.

I’ve been with Progressive for a couple years now, and have been pleased with them. I’ve taken care of all policy changes, payments, and applications using their web interface, which is quite good. I’ve never had to make a claim, though (and my deductible is pretty high, so it’d have to be a substantial accident to make one). Also, they’re cheap, especially if you’re 23. :smiley:

We’ve had real good luck with Nationwide. I can pay my bill online, they’re friendly, and thus far they haven’t sent my rates through the roof despite being in 3 car accidents in the past 5 years. The two accidents that were my fault were very, very, VERY minor ones that didn’t cost much. The accident that wasn’t my fault didn’t hurt me but messed up the car.

In the accident where our car was banged up (not totalled), they gave us a fair deal when they cut the check, even though they knew the other motorist was uninsured, pitifully poor and would never get a dime outta him. And we got the check quickly, too, no more than 3 days after the accident happened. Yeah, we had un/underinsured motorist coverage, but considering they knew going after the other guy for the money would be pointless, they could have tried to cut corners with us and give us less than what the damage to the car was.

ITT Hartford is outrageously expensive, but if there’s a lawsuit, they take care of business.

I’d avoid State Farm at all costs. They’re really bad about paying up if there’s an accident and they’re too expensive.

I’ve been with AAA for maybe 20 years. Compared rates several times and found nothing cheaper (I’m in CA, which might make a difference).

I had one claim, when I was hit by an uninsured idiot on the freeway. AAA paid w/ no hesitation (I did have to cough up the deductible in this case), and at least followed up enough to determine the idiot had nothing worth suing for. No impact at all on my rates.

They had no problem dropping my daughter from the policy, even though college is only 75 miles away. I’m expected to put her back on if she’s home for more than 30 days.

Renewals are for a full year. Monthly premiums are a “minimum payment”, & I can prepay as much as I darn well please. There is a 12% interest rate on the outstanding balance, but that’s not outrageous.

I really have no complaints, except for the cost of the whole business.

Currently with Allstate. Haven’t had any (major) problems yet, though I was somewhat miffed that my car was in the shop an extra 2 weeks back in January because their overworked (post-holiday season) inspector couldn’t get to re-inspecting the vehicle when the shop found additional damage. Still, considering they’ve been very good about paying for all the repairs and recovering my deductible, I’ll cut them a bit of slack.

I’ll admit that I worked for 21st Century Insurance (a California-only firm, IIRC) for a year, and that was enough to convince me to never buy insurance from them. Like food preparation in a restaurant, you really don’t want to see how some of these insurance companies do business from the inside…

Thank you everyone, for the good advice.
Indigo, you stated: “I DO highly recommend enrolling in insurance licensing classes for EVERYONE, however.”
Any idea who to find something such a class? I’ve never seen anything remotely like this around here (Indiana).

Here ya go.