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Friday Un-Favorite: Travelers Insurance

January 7th, 2011

I’m the ultimate loyal customer, if a company makes a great product, has a great store, or has great customer service I’ll be a loyal customer for life. I’ll sing their praises until the cows come home telling anyone and everyone about it. I’ll willingly pay more for the product if I love it and will go out of my way to shop at a specific store or buy a certain product. I’m the customer you want to have, that is unless you decide to be ridiculous. Every now and then a company falls from my graces, it doesn’t happen often since I always give second chances. Until last month I’ve been singing the praises of Travelers Insurance. We’ve been their loyal customers for 11+ years, we’ve never even bothered checking for better rates anywhere else – ever. Whenever I heard someone complaining about their insurance company I’d chime in with how much we LOVED Travelers.

Most companies will love you as long as you don’t have a problem and are handing them money. When you have an issue that needs resolved and they need to hand a little money back your way, they show their true colors. Here’s what transpired with Travelers Insurance. We had a small fender bender when we were in Maine (the first in Mr Chiot’s 18 year driving career). The process of filing a claim was OK, but there were a few misscommunications and not enough info passed along to us from them. No problem, we decided to stick with them. Then we got our policy renewal in December which was much higher than usual, 50% higher than our last bill. We expected it go up a bit, but then we saw in our statement “NEW Accident Forgiveness for customers over 4 years and who haven’t had an accident in the past 5 years”. Great we thought, we’ll just call and get this fixed. Obviously there was an error.

When we first called the agent said, “Oh yeah, you should qualify, I’ll check on it.” Then she called back and explained that since we pay our insurance 6 months ahead of time, they decided we didn’t qualify for accident forgiveness since our accident happened under our “old” policy. If we had paid on monthly basis we would have qualified because our policy renews each month, but since we pay our bill up front we were out of luck. Basically I’m being penalized for giving them a bunch of money up front and paying my bill in full at the beginning of the contract – WHAT? We called several times to complain and try to resolve the issue and basically they said, “Sorry, screw you. You can’t get this and won’t even be able qualify for this on your policy for the next 5 years, since you just had an accident.”

After much frustration and lots of thought, I decided I’ll be taking my auto, home, and business insurance elsewhere, and I’m willing to move my life insurance as well if I find a new company I like that offers all three. I’m even willing to pay more elsewhere if I get good service and if the company is respectful of their clients. I am by no means out for cut rate products with bad service, it’s not worth it. I will no longer be telling people about how great Travelers Insurance is, I’ll be telling people to stay away from them at all costs.

So this is where you come in – Do you have a great insurance company that you can recommend?

Have they been there for you and treated you with the respect you deserve as a loyal customer when you’ve needed to file a claim?

How long have you been with this company?

Do you have any insurance company horror stories? any companies we should avoid?

Do you know of a great insurance agent we should call?

50 Comments to “Friday Un-Favorite: Travelers Insurance”
  1. Sue on January 7, 2011 at 6:36 am

    Sorry—there is NO good insurance company.
    The entire point of an insurance company is this: They take your money.
    They make many many ads on tv claiming how great they are and how they stand by you.
    Then, when you DO need them, they pretend they’ve never heard of you (and don’t have your THOUSANDS of dollars in premiums).
    Yea…….. I have NOTHING good to say about insurance companies. If a person LOVES theirs, they have obviously NEVER had a claim. Good luck………you’re going to need it.

    Reply to Sue's comment

  2. LisaAlso on January 7, 2011 at 8:01 am

    I agree with Sue to a point, but insurance is one of those things you just have to have to protect against the unavoidable.

    That said, Hubby and I have been with State Farm for 30ish years. In that time, our house was hit by a tornado, and our daughter’s car was hit by another driver (2 days after she got her license!)

    Both times, the company was prompt in their appraisal of the damage and cut a check as soon as the repair estimates were available. In the case of the house, State Farm cut another check to cover additional rain damage caused by the repair company’s delays.

    While I often resent paying out the premiums, when I’ve needed protection, they’ve been there for me. I probably could have covered all the damages if I had saved the premiums in a bank account, it is that total destruction/bodily injury type of situation that keeps me paying.

    Reply to LisaAlso's comment

  3. Canadian Doomer on January 7, 2011 at 8:13 am

    The best thing I can say about our insurance company is this – when we had a small car accident and called them, the man I spoke to warned me that the most cost-effective thing to do was *not* file a claim and to pay for the damages out of my own pocket. He was right, of course – as you discovered.

    After thinking about it, we then dropped our insurance to the lowest plan we could have by law. Over a thousand dollars out the window every year and we will most likely never make a claim. The only ones that the “must have insurance” laws protect are the insurance brokers. Personally, we would be better off putting that money in the bank.

    Possible exception – in the US, you have to pay for health insurance. I don’t know enough about the pros and cons of paying for health insurance, or the costs involved, but I think that just one childbirth with complications or a bout of cancer would make health insurance worthwhile.

    Reply to Canadian Doomer's comment

    • Susy on January 7, 2011 at 8:17 am

      Actually with the prices of premiums for self-employed health insurance I could save up enough in a couple years to cover some pretty significant health problems.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  4. Melanie G on January 7, 2011 at 8:15 am

    Actually, I have to say that we have an excellent insurance company. My parents have been clients for decades, and my husband and I have been clients for 10+ years.

    Erie Insurance is a small company, but worth finding. I imagine you will have no trouble finding them in your area. Their coverage is great, their rates are reasonable, no crazy premiums, they are accessible, helpful and don’t make some of the same bait-and-switch maneuvers it seems a lot of companies make.

    And I will say, per Sue’s comment above, that we (collectively) have actually submitted a few claims over all these years and have not been dropped, penalized or had undue difficulty or cost surrounding the claims.

    A few years ago, a friend of the family, who is an insurance agent with State Farm or one of those other large companies, was talking with my parents about insurance (just generally). Dad mentioned that they had Erie and had for a long time, and Scott said, “oh, I would never switch from Erie.” We thought that was a pretty high endorsement!

    Good luck with your research and switching!

    Reply to Melanie G's comment

    • Susy on January 7, 2011 at 8:19 am

      Thanks, just the kind of info I was looking for! I love small companies and prefer doing business with them (as a small business owner myself).

      Reply to Susy's comment

    • Andrea on January 11, 2011 at 12:46 pm

      We have Erie and they have been ok. Yesterday, I needed to get the cars inspected and couldn’t find my certificate. They were really nice to fax it to the place I was taking the vehicles.
      I also had a fender bender a few years ago, I was parked, and was hit. They worked well with me to resolve the problem!
      I am not singing the praises too highly, b/c they are an insurance company, but they’re prices are always less when I have checked elsewhere.

      Reply to Andrea's comment

    • Traci on January 17, 2011 at 5:16 am

      We had Erie Ins for several years when we were hit by a tornado. We had extensive damage to our cars, home & out buildings. We were immediately dropped by them as they stated we had had too many claims. We had had one auto claim prior to this. Several of our neighbors that were hit by the tornado had the same problem with Erie. Good luck in your search.

      Reply to Traci's comment

  5. Tracy on January 7, 2011 at 8:17 am

    I second the State Farm claim. I think most good brokers will tell you to pay for minor things yourself, as it keeps your rates down.

    You may want to look at Clark Howard online, or Dave Ramsey, and see which company they recommend. Also, I think it’s better to have someone local, an agent that you can actually talk to in person if need be.

    Reply to Tracy's comment

  6. kristin @ going country on January 7, 2011 at 8:25 am

    USAA, which will be of no help to you unless you or your husband is either former military or the child of a person who served. I do love them, though. They have great customer service and they treat their employees exceptionally well. Those two things, are, of course, totally related.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

    • J on January 7, 2011 at 9:33 am

      I second the USAA suggestion. I’ve gone through only one claim with them, but they took care of me and my rates did not go up. I’ve had other things to switch around and they’ve always been really prompt with switches and corrections. I can always get ahold of someone who will know the answer, even if it’s not the same person every time.

      But, again, you have to have a military connection. Otherwise, State Farm. Their big thing is personal service. You’re always able to talk to the same person (just make sure you like your local agent….)

      Reply to J's comment

      • J on January 7, 2011 at 9:41 am

        Oh, and we’ve had negative, NEGATIVE experience with Erie. It may have just been our local agent. No claims, but just bad mailings and overall interaction with them.

        to J's comment

    • Annette on January 7, 2011 at 10:51 am

      I had State Farm since I started driving, then added Homeowners when I bought a house. No problems, even with claims (one or two I think) and when divorced, they worked with splitting the policy. Then USAA, who has covered my sister for decades, stepped in and offered a better price, with a young driver. They are not competitive with my homeowners and that remains with State Farm.
      Insurance is not something I love; it is something I am not allowed to live without (unless I get rid of my car and own nothing).

      Reply to Annette's comment

    • Rhonda on January 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm

      I agree. We have USAA and they’re very good.

      Reply to Rhonda's comment

    • Nancy on January 7, 2011 at 2:18 pm

      I have USAA insurance for the house and car. The rates are reasonable and they are good to deal with. I also have various bank and investment accounts with them.

      Reply to Nancy's comment

    • Michelle on January 7, 2011 at 3:16 pm

      USAA…I’ve been a customer for 20 years (home owners and auto) and always great service and hassle free!

      Reply to Michelle's comment

    • Bethany on January 7, 2011 at 7:12 pm

      I second (or third) the USAA comment. My mother worked for Allstate for years (and then Encompass, a subsidiary) so I’ve always know the insides of an insurance company. Apparently major insurance companies have all gone to a “new” (okay within the past 5-8 years) computerized claim system that actually tries to limit human thought.

      I’ve been in a bunch of accidents and when I was in college USAA actually cut me off (3 accidents in one year, I was about to be deployed to Bosnia and my mind wasn’t exactly straight). They handled each of the accidents quickly and professionally. Now that its been a while I’m back with USAA and I love them. They handled my mortgage (a VA loan that almost didn’t get approved) and have been helpful while dealing with a rental insurance claim a few years ago.

      Sad to say, but any for profit company is going to cause issues. I know USAA has a profit, but it’s *almost* like a credit union. If only credit unions would run car insurance programs.

      Reply to Bethany's comment

  7. Jennifer Fisk on January 7, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Automobile insurance only guarantees you a loan to make the repairs. Then you pay a higher premium until you’ve paid off the loan.
    I have my homeowners, auto and kennel insurance with Patriot. The premiums seem to be fairly reasonable and they don’t have a problem with my 3 now 4 German Shepherd Dogs. Not having a hassle because of my dogs is worth whatever they charge but I won’t let them know that.
    Traveler’s has a reputation for being very pricey and quick to raise premiums or drop customers, according to an insurance saleman friend of mine, so don’t take your experience personally. They are what they are.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  8. Joan on January 7, 2011 at 9:18 am

    We’ve made claims with both Amica and Liberty Mutual, and been very happy with both. We had Amica for years, and settled several claims with them (hail damage, and a minor accident). When we moved we switched to Liberty Mutual because they were less expensive, and have filed a claim with them with good results as well.

    Reply to Joan's comment

  9. Joshua on January 7, 2011 at 9:27 am

    I was with Progressive for many years. My girlfriend, while new to driving stick, plowed my car into a concrete pylon in front of a gas station. They paid the claim quickly and without fuss. I honestly couldn’t tell you what happened to my rates, though, as I moved to another state and switched my car insurance to the same company as the new homeowner’s policy. The new insurance company is Shelter Insurance, and my agent, Kevin Kirkland, has been fantastic. Originally, my girlfriend wasn’t on our policy because she seldom drove my car, but one day she wanted to rent a car and drive to Nashville, and it would be MUCH cheaper to add her to my policy than to buy the rip-off insurance from the rental company. Kevin had her added, and at a really reasonable rate, with just a few day’s notice before her trip.

    Reply to Joshua's comment

  10. Nena on January 7, 2011 at 10:03 am

    I pretty much agree with the comments that insurance companies have the ultimate goal of making money for themselves and not helping you. That said, I have had relatively good experiences w/ two companies, State Farm who paid for repairs to the same vehicle twice in one year. Once I was rear ended in a chain reaction while stopped at a construction site while out of state picking up my father, the second happened about 10 months later when I was involved in an accident in a mountain county w/ blind curve and a stalled car in the road on the other side of the blind. I had never had a claim before or since those two, my rates were about the same until my husband got a speeding ticket earlier this year and that caused an increase in premiums. My local agent was instrumental in making that process relatively painless. The second company is Farm Bureau. Also, a single claim on home and was paid quickly. I don’t think you can ever rest comfortably that you can rely on your carrier no matter what your past experiences and have heard horror stories. Both companies offer a variety of products, State Farm the widest including life.

    Reply to Nena's comment

  11. Mary W on January 7, 2011 at 10:04 am

    I second (or third) the USAA recommendation, but you have to have the military connection. Both my husband and I have had them for decades and have never had problems with claims or rising premiums, even if we caused the accidents. With USAA we don’t have to deal with individual agents, so I don’t know how much that factors in to level of service. I know a couple of people who have Erie for auto and business and they’ve been happy.

    Reply to Mary W's comment

  12. The Mom on January 7, 2011 at 10:11 am

    We love Amica. Both my family and Hubbie’s have been with them for decades. We’ve made claims on our car and home with absolutely zero hassle and 100% transparency. I really can’t say enough good things about them. We have our house, car and life through them.

    Reply to The Mom's comment

  13. Justin on January 7, 2011 at 10:26 am

    I’ve had Amica for all of my insurance needs for over 10 years now and I can do nothing but sing their praises (I do the same you do when I really like something). I’ve never found a company so customer service friendly and they continue to surprise me every time I call them for anything (a claim, change of service, inquiring about new services, etc.). My wife (then financee) didn’t believe me when I told her to call them after her insurance company sent her a blunt letter saying, “You’re moving to RI. We only cover in MA. Adios, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” After her first call, she was hooked too.

    Things I like:
    – You don’t have to have an “agent” but if you like someone in particular you talk to on the 800-line, they’ll gladly give you their direct number and email address. We’ve been calling the same woman for the last two years and she actually knows who we are when we call.
    – They *do* communicate by email…so many companies, especially those in banking and insurance still won’t for privacy reasons and just plain laziness at adapting.
    – They charge a per-month fee for paying your policy by the month ($4) instead of discounting for full payment upfront and they don’t differentiate between monthly and annual policies like Travelers. If you go on auto-payment (via checking), they waive this fee. If you pay it in fewer months or pay upfont, you don’t pay the fee for months you have to make no payment. Their policies are 10-months, not 12, which gives you a nice little 2 months off and I find it helps with budgeting.
    – They offer plans where you become a stakeholder in the company. You pay a little more on your policy upfront but get a dividend check at the end of the year. Generally, after the dividend check is cut you end-up paying less money than you would have on a non-dividend plan. The savings in minimal (20 bucks or so), but I kind of like the idea of having a nice check come unexpectedly in the mail, even if it’s mostly my money. Even through these tough times, they’ve paid dividends every single year.
    – Their claims process is second to none, IMHO. If you call after an accident during off-hours, you get a real rep on the phone (not an answering service) and the first question they ask is, “Are you okay?” Then, they take your entire statement over the phone–no calling back on Monday morning and repeating yourself. No writing it down and mailing it in. They tell you exactly what to expect next and who will call you next and they make sure you have no more questions before hanging up. Generally, a claims handler has called you AND sent you a letter within 1-2 business days after that and the adjuster has contacted you about coming out to see the damage wherever it is (no waiting at home unless, of course, it’s a home claim). You get direct phone numbers and email addresses for both people and you get follow-up letters at every step of the way telling you what’s going on. The first auto claim I ever made, I had the check in my hand before I’d even had a chance to get to the auto body shop (accident on Friday, check by Monday). The auto body shop worked directly with them for any additional money and I never had to play middle-man. Even the manager at the shop said, “I like Amica. They don’t argue with me when I tell them a non-factory part won’t fit. They just let me order it. Most make me order the after-market part and then show the adjuster it doesn’t fit before ordering the right part.”
    – We even get a holiday card every year from Amica (how many companies still do that?) and they customize their form letters when appropriate. For example, when we called to insure my wife’s engagement ring, the follow-up letter said, “Congratulations on your engagement!” When we called to combine policies after getting married (a process they made very easy and didn’t screw-up), they congratulated us then too. I know that has no cash value but it’s important to me to know they actually realize I’m a human being–not just an account number.

    My only complaint—and it’s not even really a complaint is that they recently got into Life Insurance and I must get at least 2 paper mailings a week about their life insurance products. We’ll definitely call them when we’re ready for life insurance but I could do without the excessive paper spam in the interim. I’m sure if I called them and told them to put me on do-not-mail, they would. I just haven’t.

    Good luck making your choice! Feel free to email me if you have questions about Amica.

    Reply to Justin's comment

    • Susy on January 7, 2011 at 10:49 am

      Great feedback, thanks for taking the time to write such an in depth review! I’ll definitely be checking them out!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  14. Renee on January 7, 2011 at 10:50 am

    I’ve heard so many horror stories from loyal customers of so many different insurance agencies that I can only include that there are none left that really care about keeping any individual happy. You’d think making customers happy – especially loyal customers – would be top priority.

    Bottom line is that they’re out to make money, and they do that by paying out as little as they legally can.

    Hate to be a nay-sayer, and I’m sorry you had a bad experience with Travelers! Taking your business elsewhere is the best way to make a statement!

    Thanks for asking the question here, though. It’s nice to see a few recommendations from people – it’s been a long time since I heard anyone talk about being treated right by an insurance company.

    Reply to Renee's comment

  15. Renee on January 7, 2011 at 10:51 am

    P.S. I also have self-employed health insurance, so I can relate to the costs!

    Reply to Renee's comment

  16. Susan on January 7, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    While I don’t think much of any insurance company, I have had the best experience with State Farm. I insure both vehicles and my house with them, plus carry a large “umbrella” policy and the total annual payment is way less than my last insurer – Travelers. They were also the only company to try to find a way to cover my house and let me keep my dog (who had a little run-in with a not-so-nice neighbor). I would recommend them.

    Reply to Susan's comment

  17. Carol on January 7, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Paul uses and likes Todd Wilde in Rittman. I had an accident in October 2009 (a bad one; the car was totaled) and our insurance rates skyrocketed. He found us a company that weights credit scores (ours are excellent) more heavily than other companies, and saved us quite a bit of money. We actually switched to him after the accident because he was the agent for the other people involved, and he was so good to work with, even though we weren’t his customers at that time.

    Reply to Carol's comment

  18. Morgan G on January 7, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Oh gosh, I feel your frustration. My husband was in a accident where he wasn’t to blame, even had the police report to prove it and our company – Kemper – still went dutch with the other driver’s insurance company. It’s crazy!

    I have heard great things about StateFarm, but that their premiums are high. It’s nice to get so much feedback from others about their experiences. Sounds like there’s a really lucrative niche market out there for someone to fill: a human-centric insurance company that follows the principles of common sense.

    Reply to Morgan G's comment

  19. AGinPA on January 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    We have had a great experience with NJ Manufacturers. We have filed several minor car claims with them with no increase in our rates. They don’t have agents, you just go through their main office and then an individual gets assigned to a particular claim. The catch is you have to live in NJ (I don’t anymore but used to and they still cover us.)

    Consumer Reports recently did a review of insurance companies that had lots of excellent information.

    Reply to AGinPA's comment

  20. Kelly on January 7, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    We’ve been with Nationwide for our house ins for the past 8yrs, and added auto onto it a few years ago when we discovered they were lower than Geico (we like cheap policies and tend to pay for small accidents out of pocket to keep our rates low). we’ve always been very happy with them, especially when we came home from a weekend away to discover someone had thrown rocks through our living room windows and cracking/breaking some of the siding on the front of our house. Nationwide was fanTAStic about it – fast, very fair on reimbursement, super friendly. Our policy did go up a bit, but I don’t remember how much (so maybe wasn’t enough to note).

    Reply to Kelly's comment

  21. Jenn on January 7, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    I’ll fourth or fifth the recommendation for USAA. They have taken great care of us. Their customer service is wonderful – even following a devastating hurricane. We just added the 17 year-old boy to the car insurance and indeed, the price increased, but I don’t mind because they have been great to work with. If there is any way for you to join USAA, I would highly recommend it.


    Reply to Jenn's comment

  22. grrlscout on January 7, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Another shoutout for USAA. GF’s folks are retired military. They covered all the damage we received from the hail storm — roof, AC, awning — without a quibble.

    Reply to grrlscout's comment

  23. mamaraby on January 7, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Not a recommendation for an auto insurance company per se. Just a plug for finding a local, independent insurance agent. You give them what you’re looking for and they can quote you policies with several different companies. They’ll match you with the right company for your needs. As an extra bonus – they can help you with any issues you may have with the insurance company (like the accident forgiveness program issue) AND if you decide to switch they can go through the quoting process with you again. One stop shopping/help makes the process a bit easier.

    I HIGHLY recommend this over any other insurance company recommendations. Insurance companies typically have multiple claims offices and each claims office’s customer service can be *vastly* different. A local, independent insurance agent will likely have a good feel for what the claims offices are like in your area vs the wider pool of folks you’ll find on the internet.

    Up until August of this last year we had been with American Family for as long as I can remember. We were in an accident (where the other driver was majority at fault) and had horrendous claims service and bogus liability decision. I asked my agent for help several times and was met with promises that they’d check into it for me only I never heard back from them (American Family has captive agents meaning they only sell and service AF’s products). I hate switching and put it off for as long as I could. Last August our homeowner’s was up and I decided to give one of the local, independent agents a try. Best decision I ever made. He saved us just about half on our homeowners. The company we went is less important than the agent to me.

    Reply to mamaraby's comment

    • mamaraby on January 7, 2011 at 4:21 pm

      Sorry…forgot a link. Head to IIA’s Agent Search tool to find a local, independent insurance agent near you. (Which I admit sounds like a commerical, but they don’t compensate me to say it. I’m just oddly nerdy when it comes to insurance.)

      Reply to mamaraby's comment

  24. Heather on January 7, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    I have to agree with all the good comments about USAA. They also have excellent Federal Savings banking. If you know someone who is in your family (anyone) there is a way to get hooked up with USAA. It might mean asking someone else to join (open a free savings bank) but it will be so worth it. They are loyal, rates are very good (maybe not the cheapest but probably the cheapest in the long rung since they don’t hike rates) and you get a small refund each year. Hope you can find something good. That’s completely bogus they way they treated you. You might want to tell them you are pulling your insurance and let them know you posted this on your blog (guarantee they won’t like that!). Good luck!

    Reply to Heather's comment

    • Susy on January 7, 2011 at 5:19 pm

      I’ll have to look into this since my brother was in the Army for many years.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  25. Lisa on January 7, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    I’ve had Progressive for years, and I had a claim for a minor accident in 2005. They took great care of my car and kept me informed of the repairs. My rates went up, but not more than about 15-20%, and the accident fell off my record in 3 years. Now my rates are lower than they were before the accident (probably because I am 5yrs older and married now).

    Reply to Lisa's comment

  26. Mrs. Whimsy on January 7, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Another USAA fan here… If you read the very bottom, there are some things you can get into without having the military connection.

    I think the second best insurance I’ve heard is Progressive…but there really isn’t a “best” insurance. Actually, the best one is the one you never have to use.

    Becoming a Member
    USAA membership is a privilege earned by those in uniform — and it’s a privilege that can be handed down to their children. Membership is open to:

    ■Active, retired and honorably separated officers and enlisted personnel of the U.S. military.
    ■Officer candidates in commissioning programs (Academy, ROTC, OCS/OTS).
    ■Adult children of USAA members who have or had a USAA auto or property insurance policy.
    ■Widows, widowers and former spouses of USAA members who have or had a USAA auto or property insurance policy.

    In addition, certain products, including investments, financial planning, life insurance and banking products — checking, savings, CDs and credit cards — are available to the public.

    Reply to Mrs. Whimsy's comment

  27. Sincerely, Emily on January 7, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    There is so much information here. That is great. We have State Farm on one vehicle and Amica on another. Like mentioned in a few other comments – it is hard to know what service you will get until you really really need it. I just hope the loyalty we have shown them will be shown to us if we ever need it.

    Reply to Sincerely, Emily's comment

  28. Emma on January 8, 2011 at 1:18 am

    I’ll chime in here as well but keep my comments brief — you’ve gotten a lot of feedback already.

    I used to work in the insurance field, so hopefully I can offer some basic background information on how insurance rates work. Each company has what is called a “sweet spot.” It’s where they price their products to be the most competitive in the market place. For Company X, it might be 20-25 with good credit and no tickets. For Company Y, it might be 40 divorced and one fender bender. Each company is different. That’s why almost all the companies out there can claim “drivers who switch save about $400 / year on their insurance.” It’s because they’re switching to a company’s sweet spot. Unfortunately, since we all get older, our credit changes, and life happens, you won’t stay in the sweet spot with one company long term. For the best rates, you’ll need to shop around every 5 years or so.

    As far as my personal experience — we’ve used State Farm for years. Fortunately we’ve got a family member as our agent and the ladies in his office know us personally. They’ve always gone out of our way to take care of any issue that we have. Granted, some of this depends on the agent and their employees. As far as the back-end company though, we’ve had a good experience.

    I did have a claim against a USAA driver and getting the claim processed was a huge pain. I wouldn’t personally use them.

    For life insurance, I carry a Primerica policy. I was an agent with them and do believe in their product line. They only sell term policies and no cash value. It’s my personal belief that that is the best option for a family.

    Any questions you might have, shoot my direction!

    Reply to Emma's comment

  29. Laura on January 8, 2011 at 2:52 am

    I guess I’ll be the first to say that we’ve had good luck with AllState. We’ve filed a couple of car claims over the years and they were great to us even before we were actually married – gave us the couple discount for our auto policies and Mike’s home policy.

    It could just be that we have a fantastic agent – Melody Grondahl – but in my experience they’re also a good insurance company. She’s been good about helping us figure what coverage we need, when we need it, and when we should and shouldn’t file. She even advised me about how to keep my auto insurance history current when I had no need for insurance for a couple of years (company car) so that I could get the good driver/customer discount when I needed it again.

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  30. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mark mile, Susy Morris. Susy Morris said: Friday Un-Favorite: Travelers #Insurance #fridayfavorites #unfavorite […]

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  31. kaela on January 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    I’ve had very good luck with Geico. I had 2 pretty big claims in the same year (the only two of my almost-30-year driving history!) and they were both covered in full, with no questions, no guilt, and really no effort on my part other than a phone call. They send an adjuster out immediately, have glass, body and mechanic shops all over the place that they work with to fix your car and my rates didn’t budge an inch. Their policy seems to be “Accidents happen. That’s why you have insurance.” Refreshing to say the least. I only have car coverage through them however, so I can’t comment on home owner’s, life. etc.

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  32. Kim Couture on January 8, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    State Farm

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  33. Gayle on January 8, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    USAA and Amica are the two top rated insurance companies. I have been with USAA for 35 years and not one complaint. I have my home and cars with them. They are super easy to deal with and very courteous to their members. Also, you get a rebate check each year is they made a profit. I just received a check for $98 which was a nice little Christmas bonus. You can’t go wrong with them.

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  34. Helen on January 9, 2011 at 1:45 am

    The only thing insurance insures is income for the insurance company. That said, we use Nationwide. They’ve been ok, but then, we have never filed a claim, either.

    Reply to Helen's comment

  35. Ash on January 12, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    I guess I will be the first to compliment AAA. I have them for my car insurance and I love them. My husband and his family has been with AAA for 30+ years and they aren’t the cheapest but I have been so happy with the service. My husband and I travel by car a lot and so we occasionally rent cars. They cover us in a rental car at no extra cost and offer GREAT roadside assistance. Also, when my husband was in a serious accident 8 years back they paid his claim instantly and took care of everything. Also we get a discount because we belong to a credit union.

    For my homeowner’s insurance I’m with Pioneer State Mutual. Their rates are reasonable and while I never had to make a claim, a friend of mine who is a broker suggested them. About 3 years ago a few tornadoes came through our area and the whole town had wind damage. Pioneer State Mutual was in town the very next day assessing damage and cutting checks. She said she switched her insurance to them within the week and recommends them to everyone.

    Hope this helps! Good luck on your search!

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  36. Grace on January 17, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    My sister used to be an insurance lawyer. The whole nature of insurance sickened her so much that she is now a stay at home mom. That said, she is very picky about who we carry our insurance with. She is not allowed to give legal advice anymore, but insurance advice she can still do. She strongly advised us against 3rd party insurers, any company with State in the name except Cotton State, no Nationwide, Progressive, or Geico. Nothing on the back cover of your phone book.

    She does recommend Amica and USAA. We finally settled on USAA and are very happy paying 1/3 what we did before and now we have better coverage.

    Another tip from my sis – up the med-pay on your car insurance policy well beyond the minimum. If you cause an accident and someone gets hurt, you could lose everything you own unless your med-pay can cover their expenses. It doesn’t cost that much and is so worth it if the unexpected happens.

    Good luck in your search.

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Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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Taste Testing Carrots

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