Switch out of State Farm?

herusMarch 10, 2008

Have been with them for about 20 yrs. Early, early on they nearly dropped us due to my wife being a new driver who had more accidents than they believed was normal. I pleaded and they recanted.

Now, with 2 cars and the home insured with them, I have never really shopped them. But our agent retired a couple of years ago and was replaced by a seeming go-getter, who insists on having her staff call us (and of course all other clients) and ask for appointments so they can sell us more.

We don't have time to pander to insurance sales quotas. I can't believe they are doing this "for us" as they say, otherwise the first agent would have done so. She NEVER called us for 10 years and I preferred it that way, although the staff was very responsive when we called. (that staff is more or less the same btw)

As many here have noted during a quick search I did, their rates have been rising steadily. We have had one home claim to the tune of about $6K (frozen pipe in bmt) and one auto claim last year (my fault) for about the same amount. They were ok to deal with, not fantastic but no real complaints.

We have some sort of preferred standing with the Mutual part of the company now. I suppose this is a bit of a gimmick (or maybe not) to dissuade you from switching, and I must say it has worked. Till now... this over-hungry agent is the straw that might cause this camel to switch and hopefully save some money in the bargain.

I saw where Costco sells insurance... we are members and that would be interesting, as our overall Costco experience is very good.

What other recommendations might y'all make? We are mid-forties, two kids, one licensed but not on auto policy yet (and likely not going to be even at college as no need to be).

Excellent credit (really) and accident/ticket free for ~15 years except for the one last year.

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I don't know --- I might just go in for a mtg. Maybe they do want to sell you stuff -- but when we went in, we discovered that we didn't have the coverage we wanted on the house and had too low of deductible on the cars. We talked over our policies and our needs. I didn't buy anything that I didn't want. And in the end, we saved some money.

I have had excellent service with State Farm. In previous jobs, I dealt with a lot of insurance claims and time and time again, State Farm was the easiest to work with.

That being said -- in 30 years, we have had one claim on the house, no tickets in 15 years, no accidents in over 25 years and good credit. And I'm in the midwest which I think helps.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 3:23PM
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I often wonder the same thing, but when I talk to friends they all have problems with their insurance companies so I wonder if it is worth it to switch.

If your only problem is with the new agent I don't think that I would switch. I would shop around if I had the time. Maybe they can lower your quote if you found a cheaper one?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 3:28PM
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Yes, they want to sell you some life insurance. That's their big money maker. In Seattle I was forced to meet the agent so I could get his pitch. :P I have a nice State Farm agent here in Ohio. She's almost like a friend. Can you switch agents? We have many offices near my home.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 4:05PM
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Keep the company, switch the agent if at all possible.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 4:29PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

Our agent does a yearly call to have people come in and evaluate their coverage. Last year we simply could not go in. This year, dh went in and there were several discounts that we had not received in the past that we were eligible for. We view it as a good time to go over what our needs are according to how our situation has changed in the past year and how the value of our house may have changed too. Only one of us will go in though so that it is easier for us to discuss things at home before agreeing to purchase additional insurance.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 1:34AM
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Couple things. The above advice about switching agents is a good one. You could even call this existing "new" agent and tell them what your plan is if things don't change.

Second, State Farm probably has a "do not call" list that you can be put on. Sort of an internal version of the national do not call list. Many insurers started them as a CYA(cover your a$$) deal in case they're ever brought up on violating the national no call program. They can respond to a local states attorney by saying "see look what we're already doing to combat those pesky calls".

Third, being with State Farm for such a long time has probably earned you some legitimate good will. Might be in the form of accident forgiveness, or rescuing you if you ever forget to pay your bill and it cancels. In the last 2 days I've had discussions with one client who's filing her 2nd home claim in the past 4 months, and another who let their 6 car auto policy cancel 45 days ago. Both will be helped greatly by their existing tenure.

Fourth, if you think a new agent situation with State Farm is taxing, what do you think will happen with Costco? I'll bet you a very large sum of money the State Farm agent goes thru much better training than any Costco employee. State Farm agents invest huge sums of money to start up actual agencies, and spend countless hours in home office training. Compare that to the guy in the insurance kiosk at Costco.

Finally, and as a total side note, be real careful with that licensed young driver. Your state may allow "excluded drivers" to be left off your policy. Here in CT we have no such exclusion. What does that mean? If they're licensed they're insured. You don't want to do that...too bad. What's the logic? We as the insurer have no way of knowing whether that child is truly NOT driving. You may be the most honest person in town, meanwhile there are 5 of your neighbors letting those uninsured kids drive. Oh, and you can bet your bottom those same people who don't want to pay for those kids want us to write a check for the car they just smashed up. Don't be surprised if SF finds out about the young driver and forces you to add them.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 3:36PM
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I have State Farm too - and a new agent since mine retired. I shopped around once when I was first married - I'd just had State Farm because that's what my parents had. Thought I could get a much better rate from the new company - until they discovered DHs speeding tickets. I went back to State Farm and haven't left since. Maybe could do something cheaper elsewhere but they have been okay to deal with. I do feel like they potentially give you the benefit of the doubt on things if you're a longstanding customer.

The new agent made quite an effort to meet us - which I think is just good business in that situation. We tried to meet the guy but are really busy and it just never worked out. He quit bugging us after a while which is fine by me. If you've been satisfied I wouldn't switch over this person - just tell them you were happy with no "value-added" service from the agent in the past and you'd prefer to keep it that way.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 10:09PM
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Thanks to all for excellent feedback!

The call went well. Life insurance was not brought up, maybe because I told the assistant ahead of time that we are covered through our employers and not looking for more.

She recommended raising deductibles on autos (from $500 to $1000) and using the premium savings to increase medical payouts for a net premium change close to zero. Good idea? Yes we can absorb the deductible hit should it happen. Also, is there a justification for having a medical coverage greater than 10,000 if one is already insured by a health plan?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 10:16AM
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You might want to be careful with State Farm. They've pulled out of my state, because the requirements are pretty stiff, and State Farm obviously ONLY wants to make money, they don't want to play by the rules or pay it out. If you do decide to change companies, you'll want to check to see which states they're allowed to write policies in--there are some states, like New York--where only the best, most reliable insurance companies can do business. That's a good criteria to follow.

I don't think you can go wrong with a GOOD insurance agent. We've had ours for 40 years and they do NOT pester us to sell us extra products. They do, however, represent us when needed. They research and get us the best deals. We have auto insurance with an extremely good company, that's the cheapest around--and believe me, I've checked over the years. No one--not even those heavily advertised discount insurers can come close to the premium we pay.

If I were in your shoes, I'd be looking for a new agent AND a new, better insurance company.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 10:37AM
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Herus, raising the deductible is a good idea in my opinion. As you said, you can absorb the hit. As far as turning it into more medical payments coverage...I'm not so sure...but it's a complicated subject. Quite a bit depends on the rules of your state.

Here in CT, the laws were changed in '94 to actually remove Med Pay as a mandatory coverage. As I recall, the feeling was the legislature...by mandating the coverage...was forcing people to pay twice for the same coverage. Once thru medical payments and once thru your own private health insurance. Basically, if you break you leg in an auto accident you could claim that on your health insurance, if you had no med pay. I should also note that this coincided with the state getting rid of "no fault".

A state with a strong "no fault" policy goes along way toward keeping lawyers out of the insurance process. Basically, you can't sue each other unless certain thresholds have been met (ie, medical bills of >$50k, or certain definable medical conditions), hence its connection to Medical Payments coverage.

Personally, if your looking to break even but improve your policy, I say look at your liability. Increasing your BI (bodily injury) from say 100/300 to 250/500 is a much better use of those "found" premium dollars. Or, ask about an umbrella policy which would cover your autos and your home. If none of this blows your hair back, you could always just pocket the savings...that ain't so bad either :o)

Azzelea...if you think your current wonderful insurer isn't ONLY in business to make money your living in LA LA land...

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 11:45AM
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We were with Allstate for more than 15 years without a single ticket or claim until the day a speeding 22 yr. old hit t-boned the side of our car.

This liar gave the police false information about their name, job, etc on the accident report and then tried to sue us for an astronomical amount.

Our first claim! We called Allstate to take care of it. Our agent gave us the name of an adjuster and told us to call him.

The adjuster never returned our calls. We had to bug him constantly. The attorney they appointed was the same way. Promised he'd get back to us and then we wouldn't hear from him either until we called him back.

We finally had an appointment to go to arbitration. The attorney told us to meet him at the WRONG building. We had to run to get to the right place on time.

When we complained to the agent about this he didn't blink an eye or even apologize so we decided it was time to switch.

We checked the internet, read different forums and called Geico because they seemed to have the least complaints. We didn't want to consider State Farm because of their abysmal handling of claims during Hurricane Katrina.

Geico told us our payments would be $200.00 less than Allstate even WITH this claim on our record. Probably because they don't have individual agents earning generous commissions.

A month after we switched, we were rear-ended by an elderly lady while sitting at a red light. We called Geico and they handled everything beautifully. They also didn't raise our rates. They must have an exemplary training program because every single time we have ever had to call, we never have to wait long to speak to a rep and they are always polite and knowledgeable.

I also appreciate their perk of free windshield repair if it gets chipped by flying debris.

I can see why Warren Buffet likes them.

A link that might be useful:


    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 2:13PM
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we just switched to State Farm from Allstate and saved 50% on our insurance for the same coverage, but I'll keep Geico in mind. What I had heard is that they can offer low rates because their coverage is pretty minimal, but I never checked that out for myself.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 5:42PM
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Dreamgarden, yes we do have an extensive training problem. :~) Geico rocks! I was a policy holder a few years before I was an employee. I have always had outstanding service as a customer and a claimant.

Devorah, no we have low rates because, we as agents, don't make a commission. We don't have many local offices and our money goes into claims not fancy offices or frills. You will never get a calendar or pen from me when I sell you a policy.

Additionally, because we are owned by Berkshire Hathaway we are much more stable financially than a lot of other providers. We don't offer homeowners insurance ourselves, not since hurricaine Andrew, at least. Homeowners claims drive the cost of auto up tremendously.

Yes, it's a good idea to have higher bi limits and pd limits than low deductibles. For most families you can come up with $750.oo more for an at fault accident for your car than you can come up with 75k for someone elses property.

Take a defensive driving course. In a lot of states and with a lot of companies it's a savings of up to 10%. Take advantage of electronic funds withdrawal, that normally shaves a few bucks off of the service fee. Most companies charge 3-10 a month for a service charge normally usually free or $1.oo for payments with eft.

Take full coverage off of vehicles when they hit ten years old unless they have lienholders or unless they are still remarkably valuable. If you have a 87 corsica? Drop the full coverage. Your insurer is laughing all the way to the bank and you'll be cranky customer if you try to use the coverage.

If it's available in your state take the uninsured motorist property damage instead of the collision and maybe keep comprehensive. Most claims are comp claims.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 8:08PM
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I have had State Farm long enough that they can not cancel our auto insurance. I had Geico back in the early 80's. I had an accident in 1986 that was my fault. A fender bender, basicly. I also got a couple of tickets in the next couple of years. Geico was fine dealing with the accident but then they wouldn't renew me.

I had to go to high risk insurance at a huge jump in price. They pride themselves on being the "good driver" companyand they didn't want me anymore. I didn't have another accident for 20 years.

In 2006 I totaled my car. State Farm was wonderful to deal with and gave me a very fair amount for my car. They handled the other car and driver very well, also. My daughter had three accidents in 3 years and they never canceled her, I bet Geico would have.

Also my daughter was a passenger in the back seat of another car that was hit. She got a settlement from the driver of the car that hit her but we also filled a claim with our insurance under underinsured motorist coverage and they never gave us a run around. They paid the full amount of our coverage to her, a very large amount of money.

Geico has courted us again but I am not interested.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 6:21PM
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actually Hapi, unless you get a DUI or are revoked from driving (or indicate others not in the hh have your vehicles at different locations than what you initially told us and then refuse to give info on them) Geico doesn't normally drop you.

I wonder why people have the conception of Geico that they do? I spoke to someone on Friday and when I refused to tell the nasty things about her company that customers have told me over the years, her comment was.. "well they said this this and this about YOU". Well bully for the other company. The things she was told were outright lies. I'm not about to lie to get customers. Our service speaks for itself and I don't need to. People who leave geico for the competition normally come back within two years after the other company(ies) shows it's true colors.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 8:58AM
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Blue Velvet, no DUI or revoked from driving. Just an accident that was my fault in which I ran into the back of someone at a light. I am not sure how much damage I did to the other car, mine was about $1,000.Their car didn't look bad but appearances can be deceiving. The tickets were simple speeding tickets, not in school zones or anything.

They didn't drop me, they just wouldn't allow me to renew when the time came. I was no longer a good driver in their eyes.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 5:25PM
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happy that's too bad. :~/ BTW the best time to start shopping again for insurance is when there isn't anything on your record for 12 months and 1 day :~)

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 6:30AM
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I'm a retired personal injury lawyer. My experience, on behalf of clients, with State Farm led me to tell anyone and everyone to NOT insure with them. I can't tell you how many clients would say to me, "I've been with State Farm for 20 years and my parents before me and THIS is how they treat me?"

My experience with auto insurers led me to recommend Geico and I am insured by them.

So, it's not only my experience, but multiple (hundreds) of experiences of my clients with insurance companies which have led me to this recommendation. I don't know of any PI lawyer who has anything good to say about State Farm. I could tell stories for days about how they have given the shaft (or tried to) to their own insureds.

BTW, I also highly recommend the highest limits on no-fault medical and wage loss (called Personal Injury Protection - PIP). Mostly for the wage loss. It's very easy to be without income after being off work for a few weeks and the higher limits really are a Godsend as they pay about double per week ($400 instead of $200) as the lower limits. Also, it's cheaper to have PIP medical insurance. No co-pays nor deductibles. Get the highest limits available. It costs maybe $40 a year more and you can't buy that kind of insurance (disability and medical) anywhere for that premium.

DH and I were insured by Hartford for what seemed to be very low premiums. He got one speeding ticket (his first in 20 years) and our rates went up 30%. As soon as we could, we switched.

Costco does not sell its own insurance. Ameriprise (formerly American Express) is the insurance company that you get through Costco.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 11:27PM
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Dockside, I have only my personal experience with State Farm and our underinsured coverage. Perhaps we had an unusual agent. We talked to a few lawyers but decided to see what they would offer without a lawyer. They offered our daughter the entire amount of our coverage which was well over $200K. She also got a settlement from the driver that hit the car.

I was very surprised they gave her the full amount with no argument. We did tell them we had talked to some lawyers. She was cut above the eyes and has a slight scar and a numb forehead. We got her an excellent doctor that was able to make the scar much less noticable.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 6:02PM
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We have State Farm for our homeowners, auto (two vehicles), and supplemental life insurance for my husband. I "married" into State Farm; DH has been with them for years. He's had one homeowners claim w/them, and they responded quickly (hail damage to siding). I have recently shopped around the homeowners and auto insurance, and AAA (I'm a member) was considerably higher for comparable coverage. State Farm was also lower or at least the same compared to big companies like Geico and Progressive on my older stepson's auto insurance policy and, in fact, State Farm matched one company (can't remember name of it). We much prefer to do business locally than with a company you can reach only by phone. If we have a problem w/State Farm, we can just show up at their office and it's fixed. We may pay for this personal touch, but for us it's well worth it.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2008 at 4:04PM
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I went with State Farm when I started working at an auto dealership service/body shop. ALL the mechanics, service writers, and managers were with State Farm, different agents, but all State Farm. I asked why (since I just bought a car and needed insurance) and they said State Farm was the best if you were ever in an accident. They came out to inspect the fastest and didn't cheap out on the repairs. I recently was in an accident (other person's fault) and the other insurance agency was a total PITA to deal with. Actually I never even spoke to the other agency because they were NEVER available. My State Farm insurance agent called when he got the accident report to make sure I was OK and if I had any problems. I told him that I couldn't take my car to get repaired because I couldn't ever speak to the other agent. He was horrified, said get your car to whatever shop you want, get a rental, and don't worry about a thing. I did, and the check was waiting at the body shop when I picked up my car. The rental went longer than anticipated due to a part that came in late, and State Farm made sure that got paid for too, even though the other insurance agency's paperwork specifically said they would not pay for additional rental days due to lack of parts. I've been with them for 20 years, added my husband's car, home, and life insurance. Heck if they had health insurance I'd get that too!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2008 at 2:50PM
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My experience with State Farm was not so positive. I had State Farm for over 20 years (home and both autos) when I had a small accident. They refused to pay for genuine parts for the repair. They would only pay for third party parts. I tried to call my agent and got referred to the claims adjuster. I talked to the claims adjuster several times, but he refused to budge.

That experience soured me on State Farm. I waited a few years, then got quotes from other agencies. I saved about $200 total (home and auto) by switching to Safeco. So far, I'm very happy that I made the change.

Since then, I've read that there was a class action lawsuit against State Farm because of their refusal to pay for genuine parts, so that's probably why they do so now. But I would not go back to them.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2008 at 4:04PM
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Just to comment on Costco's insurance. I've never used them, but if Costco is in contract or recommending a company, then they must follow strict Costco standards. Had I known they had insurance, I would've shopped them when we moved. Any service I have had with Costco has been fabulous and they stand by everything.

OP - are you a member of USAA? If so, I highly recco you check them out. We had to file a claim the other day when a toilet overflowed and we didn't notice til the water was gushing through the ceiling heat vent in our downstairs bathroom. They had a water mitigation team out in less than 3 hours.

The rates with USAA homeowner's insurance are hit and miss. We paid next to nothing in Tucson, but the premiums are double here in the Twin Cities. However, USAA has better coverage than most without the hassles.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2008 at 11:58PM
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With USAA you have to be either military or ex military or have a close family member be military or ex miltary.

Unless that's changed. I don't think it has recently, because a customer would have told me or I would have read about it.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2008 at 6:19AM
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In the past we never would have switched, but with the internet these days, you can find companies that will help you get a low rate for free. I know my wife and I found great coverage at a great price with HomeInsurance.com. They shopped our home and gave us discounts on our auto insurance by going with Travelers Insurance. I guess they are able to shop a lot of different companies because we were able to save over five hundred bucks...

Try it, and you may want to switch out of State Farm... I know we did...

Here is a link that might be useful: Home Insurance

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 3:18PM
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I'd be wary of sites like that. Somehow they've even gotten ways to fill out a blanket questionaire and then get some of the info transferred into other regular sites like Geico's. The info isn't always right when done this way. One application's questions don't necessarily translate well into anothers.

It's sometimes easier just to call.

Geico is 800 342 9070 (code 95959)
Progressive is 800 autopro

.... that's all the numbers I know without getting up to get a phone book and probably the only two that are truly able to help people in almost any state (except MA, at least for geico)

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 4:39PM
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We have been with State Farm for about 41 years, with the exception of a 4 year period when DH had to have a sports car. At that time, our agent told us to shop around, that State Farm was not very competitive on the car he had. We came back to State Farm when the sports car went away. We have had them in 5 different states and have never had a problem. We went through Hurricane Frederick and they were better than most carriers in our neighborhood. We have had a couple of accidents over the years but never had our rates go up. We had one person sue us after his insurance completely covered our claim (he hit us in the rear). State Farm was great handling that. We had moved out of state and they paid to bring us back for the trial (what a joke it was!). We now have our home, 4 cars and an umbrella policy with them. No life insurance and they never bug us to get it. I wouldn't think of changing companies.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 4:51PM
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When we were married DH worked for Allstate and of course that's the coverage we had. When he left and we shopped around, we picked StateFarm. That was about 40 years ago. We have home, auto, personal articles, umbrella with them.

They paid fairly one year when we had ice/water damage to the interior of our home. They paid $16K for mold damage to our new home as it was going up. (No companies cover that anymore though.) We've never had a dispute about any auto coverage. They did bungle a claim after a burglary last year, but it got straightened out.

I have to say I don't like the new agent we 'inherited' here when the prior man died. We may shop for another agent, but I think we will stick with the company.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 5:50PM
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