As a personal injury attorney I am constantly asked by my clients which car insurance they should get. While I am not a fan of any insurance company there are some that are clearly better then others. This article will focus on which insurance companies people should avoid. First, let me explain how I am quantifying the companies. I have handled thousands of car accidents cases. I have dealt with the same insurance companies over the years and I see how they deal with car accident claims.
First, a general thought about where I am coming from. I believe that when I buy something I deserve to get what I paid for. As such, if I buy insurance and cause an accident I expect my insurance company to make the situation right and limit any and all exposure to me personally. I think this is what most people think. As a busy professional with a family I don't have the time or inclination to deal with a claim against me. So, I ranked the insurance companies based on my experience which ones you are most likely not getting the most protection for your money.
My rule of thumb is if you see them on TV all the time stay away. This list includes, in order, Allstate, Progressive, GEICO, Nationwide, and State Farm. These are the five worst insurance companies in NC. When I talk with clients I compare these five to the fast food industry of insurance companies. They make very cute commercials but they are not very good for you in the long run. The issue comes down to protection. These carries do not offer much money to claimants following an accident. This means that if you are insured by one of these carries you are much more likely to be brought into a lawsuit than if you were insured with a different insurance company.
That is not very comforting if you have a busy schedule or assets on the line. That said, the business model of these insurance companies is to offer a very low amount and almost force the claimant to file a lawsuit. Here is the kicker. In NC your don't sue the insurance company of the at fault party, you sue the at fault party. Let me give you an example. Lets take two different accidents resulting in the same amount of property damage, same treatment and same age, sex, height, weight and medical history of the claimant. If, in accident number one the defendant is insured by Allstate they will attempt to not pay all of the medical bills and only offer a few hundred dollars on top of the reduced medical bills, in effect not paying all of the bills. The Plaintiff, not having much of a choice sues the at fault driver starting a 12+ month process which ends in a jury trial. Remember if you are insured with Allstate you are the named Defendant, you are the one brought into court, will have to take time off work, and will have your assets at risk. Now lets imagine accident number two with the at fault driver's insurance as Erie. Erie will typically pay all the bills and offer thousands of dollars over that amount. Most times the claim is settled and the at fault driver is not sued nor is he she even aware of what was going on, but for a final letter.
I am sure that a reading of the article might think my opinion is skewed considering that I am a personal injury lawyer. While that is fair I would respond that I see how insurance companies react when they are needed the most. Further, anyone can go to the NC Department of Insurance website and compare the number of complaints against insurance companies to see how they actually stack up. These complaints deal with complaints made by people who have the named insurance companies as their insurance, not people who are going against them. This makes the complaints even worse.
In 2012 the average complaint ratio in NC was .83. The complaint ratio for Allstate was 1.83 more then twice the state average. GEICO was 1.46, almost twice the state average. Nationwide was 1.11 more then the state average. Progressive was 1.19 more then the state average. Only State Farm came in below the state average at .67. To see the ratios go to NC Car Insurance Complaints
So the question is what type of coverage do you want. I always laugh watching the commercials from Allstate or GEICO or Progressive as they are the worst carriers you could have. Think about it, insurance is serious business. You are paying your hard earned money to a company to protect you if you ever make a mistake and hurt someone. They last place you want to find yourself following a Charlotte car accident is staring down the barrel of a lawsuit just because your insurance company's business model refuses to pay out on claims. If these carries were honest they would be more candid in their commercials. Accidents happen. That's why you have insurance. When the carrier refuses to make things right with the injured party that exposes the insured to risk. Whats the point of having insurance in that case?
In my practice I tell my clients on day one that when the at fault party has one of the above cheap insurance policies, many times we have to sue to get them what they want. It takes longer, its inefficient and it ties up the court system. The of course is not the concern on the insurance companies. It should be yours however. The next time you compare car insurance policies I recommend looking long and hard about why you are buying insurance in the first place.
So now is the moment of truth. What do you do with this information now that you have it. Did you know that you can switch insurance companies whenever you like. You don't have to wait until your policy expires to switch carries. In fact, I recommend to all my clients to review their polices to ensure they are getting the best coverage at the best price. Best, by the way doesn't mean the least amount of coverage. Too often people cheat themselves out of coverage by not getting uninsured motorist coverage. This can be a horrible mistake.
To discuss your personal injury or insurance matters in general please feel free to contact us at your convenience.