If you have ever looked at lists of the best car insurance companies in the country, no doubt you’ve probably seen the name Erie Insurance at one time or another. But just how good is Erie Insurance for auto insurance?
Who is Erie Insurance?
Erie Insurance takes its name from its hometown, Erie, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1925 and is today the 378th largest public company in the US, making the Fortune 500 list.
While the company has expanded beyond just the shores of Lake Erie, it truly is a regional company. This means that it only does insurance in 12 states, most of which are located in the Midwest region. Those 12 states are Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia.
It operates exclusively through a network of independent agents, with over 2,000 appointed agencies and 10,000 licensed agents.
In addition to selling auto insurance, Erie also offers insurance for homeowners, renters, motorcycles, boats, businesses, and life insurance.
Erie consistently wins awards for its excellent claims service and good work place. In fact, it was awarded the top spot in the 2018 J.D. Power Auto Claims study.
How are Erie’s Auto Rates?
One of the benefits of being a regional company is the ability to have greater control over insurance rates. Erie excels at this more than most other companies and consistently has the lowest rates compared with other insurance companies.
This is usually true regardless of the profile of the driver. Whether it’s a young driver with one car and a speeding ticket, a family of 4 with teenage drivers, or elderly drivers with multiple cars, Erie consistently has the lowest rates. Even when another company is cheaper, Erie is always in the mix with its low rates.
Erie is able to offer consistently low rates because they have a strong financial model. AM Best rates Erie with an A+ rating.
Erie’s financial model is predicated on having smart, controlled growth with good accounts. It also offers slightly lower commissions to its agents, which also helps it to be able to offer lower rates.
How is Erie with Claims?
We mentioned earlier that J.D. Power rated Erie as #1 in claims in its 2018 study. This means that across the board, Erie consistently delivers excellent claims service.
It’s also a testament to the independent agents who represent Erie. Independent agents are the local people who are usually the first people to help you in a claim, and their role can help turn an average claim process into a good one.
However, every auto insurance company has many, many bad reviews with auto claims. No insurance company is immune to having dissatisfied customers.
Sometimes, the problem is simply a lack of understanding about how insurance works and how claims work. This process is the duty of the insurance agent to relay to their customers so that they have an idea of what to expect if they have a claim.
In an ideal world, insurance companies would write a check for the maximum amount possible and deposit it into the customers account within 1 or 2 days. Believe it or not, but this does happen quite frequently.
However, there are many other claim situations that are not easy, where the customer has to fight the insurance company, and at the end of the day might not get any money at all, or get a fraction of what they hoped for.
Erie Insurance, like all auto insurance companies, has its fair share of bad claims. However, the good claims experiences outweigh the bad, and the company was rightfully awarded the best claims company by J.D. Power.
Which Discounts Does Erie Offer?
Erie Insurance offers many of the same discounts as the largest insurance companies. In addition to the following discounts, it also offers roadside assistance coverage, $0 glass deductibles, and pet coverage (up to $1,000 for vet expenses if a pet is hurt in an accident).
It also offers Accident Forgiveness for free (included in the premium) for customers who have been with Erie for 3 years.
Multiple Policy Discount: Erie’s discount for bundling home and auto policies is between 16% and 25%, depending on the state.
Safe Driver Discount: Erie offers up to a 15% discount for having a clean driving record over the last 3 years.
Good Student Discount: For students who maintain a B average or better, Erie offers up to a 20% discount.
Low Usage Discount: This reduces the premiums for vehicles that aren’t being used for at least 90 days throughout the policy period.
Rate Lock: This feature is completely unique to Erie. This program will lock in your base rate indefinitely, as long as you continue to meet the underwriting guidelines. Eligibility varies by state but usually includes having vehicles newer than 1990, having no more than one at-fault accident in the last 3 years and no major violations within 3 years.
Premiums can change with the Rate Lock feature if you add vehicles, add drivers, or change coverage. If you move, the Rate Lock feature will move with you, preventing a rate increase. It is possible to lose this benefit if you have too many accidents or violations, but the Rate Lock is a great way to keep the same base auto rates for a very long time.
Erie Insurance is an excellent auto insurance company, but its 12-state geographic area means that most of the nation doesn’t have access to it. If you live in one of the 12 states, be sure to get a quote from Erie.
Not only will you probably save money on your auto premiums, but you can also expect excellent claims service. You might even be able to use the Rate Lock feature to prevent the company from raising your base rates!