Recently, I've had a chance to do business with two different auto insurance companies and I've seen a stark contrast in their approach. I'm not saying these incidents are typical of either company, one incident per company doesn't make a trend. But just listen to (read) my experience and see what you think.
In April (on my birthday no less), my son was involved in a small accident. No one was hurt, which was a blessing. He stopped for some turning traffic in front of him and his friend, traveling behind him, didn't stop quite quick enough. A jeep rear-ends a small Mitsubishi, not a good thing. It was obvious to me that it was a total loss. He drove it home to avoid tow charges and it sat in my driveway avoiding storage charges. State Farm (the other boy's insurance) was called on Monday morning and said an adjuster would call me within four days. That means they will call, not that they will do anything. Since my son was under age, no rental car was available to him. Another savings for State Farm.
(I blogged on some of this back on May 07, see it all here).
The experience overall was horrible, State Farm did a lousy job managing my claim and when I filed a complaint with their office, they just said that these things happen.
Fast forward to this month, my mother-in-law has a wreck. At 84, any wreck is major. She was very fortunate, she broke a couple ribs (no one told us just how many) and had some internal bleeding, but after only four nights in the hospital she's home recuperating. The accident was her fault, she ran a redlight (early morning sun seems to have hidden the light). It was easy to see the car was totaled, I contacted insurance to help her. Nationwide asked me about the damage and agreed it was probably totaled (it doesn't take much any more).
Within two business days, I got a call from the adjuster. He explained he had the case and would call me the next day. He called the next day and had an offer for settlement. His offer made good sense and he even emailed me a 15 page document explaining the offer and justifying it. He found cars in the area that matched her car and showed me where they were. He also included on the first offer the "extras" that he was allowed (tax, tag & title fees) - I don't think State Farm did that until I pointed them out.
A couple days later I got another call from Nationwide asking my mother-in-law's condition and telling me that she had coverage for medical payments. This coverage is issued direct to her to cover incidental expenses. They are mailing a check along with some papers (technically, they don't have to mail the check until the papers are signed).
Nationwide has gone about their duty quickly and efficiently. State Farm seemed intent on dragging their feet each step of the way. Nationwide's first offer was clear, concise and fair. State Farm's first offer was low, with no explanation. When I objected, they raised the offer making me feel somewhat justified. I never felt either offer was fair,
Now given the customer service listed above, who would you do business with? I've paid out more in insurance than I ever will recover (hopefully). I would like to lower my premium, but customer service is more important than getting the cheapest rate, especially if the company doesn't show they will hold their end of the bargain. For now, I'm staying with Nationwide.