Any reason to be 'brand-loyal' to my insurance company?

lkplatowAugust 13, 2008

My homeowners/auto insurance company ticked me off by charging excessive "convenience fees" that they never told me about (apparently, I've been paying them an extra $4/month for 3 years now for something that was free when I signed up). In retaliation, I started calling around for quotes, not really thinking I'd find anything cheaper (I shopped hard for my current insurance and thought I had a great deal since I saved nearly $1000/year off what I was paying at my old company). I found 2 companies that are significantly less than what I'm paying now (auto is about HALF of what I'm currently paying). They are both A+ rated companies.

My husband is a little worried that it's a bad idea to keep switching insurance companies - he feels like if we're loyal to them, they'll be loyal to us. I think that's BS - insurance companies don't care about anything except the bottom line. But I know that some companies do offer things like accident forgiveness if you stay with them for several years. (I don't know if our current company does though). I don't want to switch and then get dropped or jerked around if I have to file a claim (not that there's any guarantee our current company wouldn't do this to us anyhow).

We've been with our current company for about 4 years now and never filed a claim. I haven't noticed any discount for that, nor have I gotten any letters thanking me for being a great customer or anything...ha ha. Anyhow, I'm wondering if there's any reason NOT to switch, or should I just do it and laugh all the way to the bank with my extra $1000/year? I need to decide by tomorrow because my auto insurance is up for renewal on 9/1 and we're going out of town on Friday and won't be back til after the renewal is up.

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I used to work in an auto repair shop and we dealt with insurance claims all the time. Most companies couldn't give a hoot about how much money you paid them over the years, but some do. I've been with the same company since working at the garage, based on the fact that ALL the mechanics, body shop guys, and other shop personnel were with the same company. And I have not been disappointed. I don't now if the service I've received is because I am a LONG term/multi-insurance customer, or if it is just the way that company does business, but I don't care if I save $1000/year, I'm staying with my current insurance because of the service. You hope to never need your insurance company, but when you need them, you need them. Some are there, and others are not.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 9:46PM
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Meghane - what insurance company do you use?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 10:08PM
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lkplatow, have you thought about asking your current company for a rebate of those fees?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 6:30AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

If the coverage is for sure the same, I would certainly consider it.

I have thought for years I would shop around for the exact same coverage at better rates, but just have not taken the time to do so.
I have been with the same agent (and now his son) for about 40 years. I thought of checking for some better rates, talking to my existing agent, explaining I had found better rates, and seeing if he could match, or come close to matching them and then going from there with my decision.

I pay by the month (automatic deductions 12 equal amounts) so would feel free to switch at about anytime during the policy periods.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 1:03PM
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For years I was a 'serial insurer'--every time the insurance was up for renewal I'd poke around the internet until I found a better rate. I figured if I could save myself a few hundred bucks w/ 2 hours' work, it was worth it.

This left out the agent-only companies, of course, but it's no loss. Now that I have homeowner's insurance, which isn't really available thru online companies, I'm not finding any value-added benefits from the agent at all. And, it makes shopping around ten times harder.

The ont time my DH totaled the car, we had just switched insurance a couple months before. They paid the claim w/ no whining.

Companies aren't loyal to their customers. Look at all the insurance companies that have booted 20-year customers who've never filed a claim because they've decided that last year's hurricane was too expensive.

Think of what you could do w/ that $1000.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 12:34PM
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I've been debating switching our car insurance from our current company to our homeowner's insurance company. We have four policies: with the car insurance company, one for our cars plus an umbrella policy; with the homeowner's, one for our residence and one for our investment property. Service from both companies has been good, and rates seem okay. In a way, I like having things separated in case there's a problem, but I don't know if this makes any difference. The car insurance company is a big national organization with no separate offices and 24-hour service; the homeowner's is through two local offices for each property (it always feels very small town when I call up about anything). So I like each of them for different reasons.

BTW, you don't need to change companies exactly when the policy ends. You can do it at any time, and they will refund what you've paid if necessary.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 1:22PM
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Switch!! I used to work for a Major Insurance Company at their national claims office. Many people assume incorrectly that their loyalty really matters. It plays a very small roll; more accurately, the number of claims in any given amount of time is what is really important. There is a national database that tracks all insurance claims for all major companies, and any new company you are with will look at your lifetime claim history, no matter who you were insured with at the time.

People also assume that their personal relationship with an agent matters. It doesn't really... only in a feel good way. Any problems you have with a claim usually require that you work with the national claims office and you will spend your time on the phone with the claims office. Your agent will not really represent you. They can't "give you a good deal" or make concessions for you. I have found that the greatest benefit of having a local insurance agent is that I can fax documents to the national claims office for free, lol.

The only advantage I have found with being with the same company long term is that we are grandfathered into some coverage that we couldn't get at this time (we get roadside assistance -100% for lockouts, dead batteries, flat tires- for $2.67 every 6 months).

Oh, and all our insurance (including our business insurance, workers comp and liability) is through the same company. Great way to get discounts for multiple policies.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 1:50PM
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Companies aren't loyal to their customers

This is so true. I learned that the hard way. Now I re-evaluate our policies and premiums every 2-3 years to make sure we aren't paying any more than necessary.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 1:52PM
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I'm with State Farm for home, life, and auto.

When I was in an accident (other guy's fault) the other insurance company was impossible for me to reach. I was in veterinary clinics at the time and could not just have my phone on waiting for someone to call me when dealing with clients. And every time I called, I had to leave a message. My agent called and asked if the repairs on my car were done to my satisfaction, and I told them that I hadn't even gotten my car to the shop because I couldn't get a hold of the other agent for authorization. My agent just about blew a gasket, told me to take my car to whatever shop I wanted, get all the repairs I needed, and get a rental, and they would take care of the rest. And they did, even when I needed the rental longer because of waiting for parts (not covered by other agency)- State Farm covered it. That is not even close to the only incident in which they have come through with my auto insurance. I haven't needed them for the other insurance thankfully, but I expect nothing less. And no, my premiums didn't go up, in fact we got refunds this year.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 12:58PM
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Just an FYI re Allstate. I'm with Allstate and just received my home owners renewal policy which has increased by almost $100. As I was reading thru the changes, the fine print reads that if I switch insurance companies, I can no longer go back to Allstate as they are not accepting new clients. I'm in a difficult situation b/c I live near a canal and none of the insurance carriers in my area are taking on new homeowner's policies. Bummer, as I pay quite a bit even with multiple discounts.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 7:30AM
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Insurance companies are, first and foremost, loyal to their shareholders and their bottom line.

You're not a customer, you're a source of revenue and a potential liability to be mitigated.

Don't feel at all bad about switching.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2008 at 10:45AM
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Some companies give much better service than others.

Start a few months before renewal time to ask people that you know whom they insure with ... and whether they've needed to make a claim and if so, what their experience may have been in such a situation.

Saving money on premium is helpful ... but not if you have a carrier who's mighty difficult to deal with, should you have a claim.

It might be useful to compile a list of relatives, friends, colleagues at work, fellow members of community, social, church, sports, etc. groups, with phone numbers and email addresses.

Then it would be simple to message all or a segment of that list, to ask for such information.

That list should save you hundreds, more likely thousands, during your lifetime!

ole joyful

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 8:14AM
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If you are thinking of switching carriers, always check with your state insurance department to see what the ratio of complaints is. In California carriers are rated on the percentage of complaints per # of insureds. It's an interesting way to check on the level of customer satisfaction.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 11:37PM
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If you are 50+, investigate AARP-associated insurance. A friend did this and saved $$$ by going to their insurance - I think the underwriter was Prudential Insurance Company.

I investigated it too, but ended up going with a small local insurance company who said they could match the AARP-associated insurance rates. And they did. I saved about $100/month (cumulative) on 4 vehicles. Now I too can say "I saved a bunch of money on car insurance . . . but not with Geico."

We did NOT switch our home/property insurance, however, because DH wanted to remain loyal to our agent, who has served us for 34 years. (To heck with loyalty - if it was up to me, I would have switched that insurance too!)

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 5:55PM
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