If you own a T.V. you have probably seen the recent barrage of car insurance commercials. Three major companies are all competing for your car insurance dollars.
State Farm Insurance has limited online resources, but promises you a local car insurance agent that will gleefully abandon his or her personal life to bring you donuts, rub your feet, and file your claim at any time of day or night. According to the commercials they will also provide compassion and sagacious advice.
Progressive’s main selling point is that they will provide a comparison of prices and services among different car insurance companies so that you can make sure you are getting the best value for your money. Online services, and instant rate quotes are available,
Geico has a magic talking gecko. They do not have rate comparisons or local agents, but they do promise low rates and offer many online tools.
It just so happens that I have been a customer of each of these companies, so if you are wondering what the truth is behind the endless commercial hype, let me share my experiences and give you some insight.
Progressive was the best car insurance value, although State Farm Insurance was actually the least expensive.
In spite of their claims to save you hundreds of dollars Geico, in my experience, actually cost more than Progressive Car Insurance with no added services.
But perhaps the biggest disparity between the service promised on the commercials and the service actually is seen with State Farm Insurance. Of course I realize that each individual experience with State Farm will vary greatly depending on the quality of the local car insurance agent and that I can certainly not attest to the performance of every State Farm Car Insurance agent in the country, but I can say that my State Farm experience was abysmal. In fact it was poor enough to make me decide that the ten or twenty dollars I saved per month was just not worth the agitation.
Both Geico and Progressive had excellent customer service. However each time I called Geico, at the end of the call I had to endure five minutes of the customer service representative trying to “up sell” my account to higher car insurance coverage and premium services.
State Farm Insurance left much to be desired in terms of customer service. In stark contrast to the omniscient car insurance agents of the commercials (whose wisdom is only exceeded by their benevolence), making contact with my State Farm Insurance Agent was like trying to get a photo shoot with Big Foot. Usually I would leave about six messages over three days time, then it would be another two or three days when he finally tried to return my calls. When I did manage to actually speak to him about my car insurance he was as obtuse as he was reclusive. Grumbling as if I had awakened him from a very important nap he would advise me that he would need to research my issue and call me back. Then the phone tag ritual would begin again.
It is important for me to have my car insurance payments set up on automatic withdrawal. I am a forgetful procrastinator, and if I do not have this service my car insurance always winds up getting canceled.
Progressive made it very easy to have automatic withdrawal for my car insurance. All I had to do was let them know it was what I wanted. Customer service was pleasant and efficient and did not try to sell me additional products.
Geico made it an ordeal. When I called in to make this request I was informed that I would need to write a letter, sign it, mail it in with a voided check, and then wait another three weeks for it to take effect. As if to add insult to injury, I then had to endure the agent “reviewing my account” and trying to sell me additional car insurance premium services.
And then of course there was State Farm Insurance. I was convinced that my agent could not handle such a complicated request, so I never brought it up.
I personally never had to file a claim with any of these three car insurance companies. But checking the websites reflects what I would expect for each of them.
Progressive assures you that you will receive a follow up call within two hours of filing a car insurance claim. The tone of the website is very helpful and promises assistance throughout the claim process.
Geico does not offer a follow up call, but does inform you that an investigation will be launched immediately to determine whether or not you are attempting fraud. Nice. It is probably just as well that they don’t give a follow up call; the car insurance agent would only try to get you to increase your coverage.
As far as State Farm Insurance goes -thank God I didn’t have to file a claim, it was hard enough just getting an answer for a question. I am quite certain that if I had needed to file a claim I would probably still be working on it with my agent. First there would be phone tag as I tried to advise him that I needed to file a car insurance claim, then there would be the faxing and filing papers, misplacing the papers, re-faxing the papers, then more phone tag and…you get the picture.
Based on my adventures with these three car insurance companies, I would say if you enjoy the convenience of the Internet and prefer 24-hour customer service Progressive or Geico are going to be the better options for your needs. If that is not a priority, and you prefer to make personal contact with a local representative, then you will be more comfortable with State Farm Insurance (provided you find an efficient agent).
These are my personal experiences with each of the companies. Of course each person’s situation is unique, so make sure you do get rate quotes for your own needs. Also if you are considering a State Farm Insurance Agent do not assume that each agent will be as ineffective as mine was. But DO learn from my experience and make sure you get references and interview prospective local car insurance agents as carefully as you would a prospective employee.
The process of finding a quality car insurance provider that best fits your individual needs can be frustrating, but I hope that my experiences can shed some light to help you along the way.