Allstate car insurance review
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- 4th largest provider of car insurance in the United States
- Offers a broad and diverse array of discounts
- Has a higher than average number of customer complaints about the claims process
Allstate is one of the best-known names in the insurance industry, and it is the 4th largest auto insurer in the country. It offers a broad range of coverage options, and the company has one of the country’s largest networks of captive agents. Due to its acquisition of insurer National General, Allstate has also brought thousands of independent agents into the fold.
The company has interesting beginnings, being founded in 1931 as part of Sears, Roebuck, and Co. and named after a popular brand of car tire the company had launched in 1926. Because Sears was so dominant in selling by mail via its catalog, the idea was to sell insurance by mail. Allstate claims to be the first insurer ever to sell a policy by mail, and for many years its products were also sold inside Sears department stores.
Today Allstate has a big name with its longstanding “You’re in Good Hands” advertising slogan, as well as great financial strength, but its overall level of customer satisfaction in car insurance has been less outstanding. The company receives a high number of customer complaints around the claims process. In addition, Allstate’s prices are not particularly competitive, instead typically falling somewhere near the middle of the pack.
Beyond the standard coverage types, such as liability, uninsured motorist, comprehensive, collision, and medical payments, Allstate offers some interesting features and options.
Accident ForgivenessAccidents can lead to significant increases in premiums. Allstate’s accident forgiveness coverage removes this risk by ensuring that your rate won't go up after an accident—even if you're at fault.
Decreasing DeductibleFor every year you are accident-free, Allstate will add $100 to a deductible fund, effectively reducing your deductible by $100 per year, up to a total of $500, rewarding you for maintaining a clean driving record.
New Car ReplacementWith Allstate’s new car replacement coverage, if your car is under two years old and gets totaled, you will receive a new vehicle as a replacement, rather than getting a cash payout equal to the depreciated value of the car that has been destroyed.
Roadside AssistanceAllstate offers three levels of roadside assistance coverage, all providing round the clock protection against flat tires and dead batteries.
- Simple claims-filing process
- Robust network of agents in just about every location throughout the country, for those who want assistance with choosing coverage and handling claims
- Significant number of discounts available, keeping premiums from being outrageously high
- Not very competitive on prices
- Writes six-month policies, exposing customers to potential rate increases twice a year rather than just once if it offered 12-month policy periods
- Justly or not, known for having a policy of denying and delaying claims in order to minimize or avoid payouts
The buying process
You can purchase Allstate car insurance either directly, meaning buying a policy online or by calling Allstate directly, or via the company’s network of captive and independent agents. Obviously you will receive more personal service if you go through an agent, both in the buying process and throughout your relationship with the company, because when you go direct you deal only with the Allstate website or its call centers.
Hence with the direct method you will never speak to the same person twice, even if you are dealing with a claim, as opposed to having a continuous relationship with an agent, who is your primary point of contact with the company. For many younger customers, this is not only acceptable but the preferred way of handling insurance, so it clearly depends on your preferences.
Allstate offers discounts for bundling car insurance with other coverages such as homeowners, so you may want to consider this during the buying process. Working with an agent is often helpful when you are considering establishing a relationship with an insurer for multiple lines of coverage.
Allstate has a wide range of discounts based on different factors, and some of them are rather creative. Some of the ways you can save include:
- FullPay discount for paying for the full six months of the policy in advance
- EZ pay plan discount for paying via automatic withdrawal
- Good payer discount for going a year without getting a cancellation notice for nonpayment
- Discount for going fully paperless
- Early signing discount; Allstate gives you a discount if you sign your policy more than a week before it takes effect, rewarding you for planning ahead
- Bundling discount for purchasing additional policies such as home or life insurance
- New car discount if your car is less than two years old and you are the original owner
- Discount for cars with high levels of fuel efficiency, new cars, and cars with safety features such as airbags, anti-lock brakes, and anti-theft devices
- Discount for being over 55 and retired, meaning you are not working or looking for full-time work
- Student away at school discount if a young driver on the policy goes to school over 100 miles from home and doesn’t take a car along
- Good student discount for unmarried full-time students under 25 with good grades
- Safe driver discount if you go for 36 months with no driving violations or accidents, and an even greater discount if you stretch this to 60 months
- Teen drivers who complete an online driver education course, and over-55 drivers who complete a defensive driving course, may be eligible for discounts
Allstate also offers a driver tracking option called Drivewise. If you choose to use Drivewise, you download the app to your phone and it tracks your driving habits, including time of day you drive, rapid acceleration, and braking distance. If your driving is deemed safe, you are eligible for discounts. Drivewise is different from similar programs offered by other insurers in that it requires ongoing participation in order to continue receiving discounts, rather than just an initial tracking period. The discount is 10% just for using Drivewise, and if you drive safely you can get up to an additional 25% savings.
Some drivers don’t like the idea of a device tracking their driving, because they don’t like feeling as if they are being “spied on.” In an age of data misuse and loss of privacy, this could be a valid concern. But if you are willing to accept this downside of Drivewise, and you are a good driver, the savings could be significant. Allstate also bills Drivewise as a way of helping drivers focus on safe driving by alerting them to potentially unsafe actions in real time.
Yet another possible discount from Allstate is their Milewise program, in which premiums are based on the number of miles you drive. The coverage is the same, but the pricing is determined by how much you drive, which of course has an impact on the total risk you pose. This usage-based pricing program may be of greatest interest to stay-at-home parents, commuters, people who work from home or near home, and retirees. It's also for people who want more control and transparency in their insurance costs.
It is challenging to make a blanket statement about how a company handles claims, and whether customers find them to be very good, very poor, or somewhere in the middle. Many of the reviews that appear online for Allstate show a general lack of satisfaction from customers, and in some cases downright anger and outrage.
This same statement can be made for many insurers, so it must be put into context. When it comes to insurance claims, it is more likely that dissatisfied customers will write reviews. And no one wants to have to make a claim in the first place, meaning that almost by default the process starts from a less than desirable place.
It’s understandable that if the insurer is not 100% accommodating in covering or processing the claim, the customer who has been paying premiums with the intent of having all such problems smoothly and promptly taken care of is likely to be angry. In some cases the anger is completely justified, and in others it may not be. The point is, it’s critical that we all take these reviews with a grain of salt.
Generally speaking, Allstate does seem to fare a bit worse than many of its competitors across a number of review sites in terms of unhappy customers. You can find reviews of Allstate on TrustPilot.
One of the most important things to look for when choosing an insurance company is how it rates in terms of financial strength, which is a good way to measure whether it will be able to maintain solvency and pay out claims. This strength is particularly important in times of financial difficulty, whether in the economy as a whole, or in association with financial challenges specific to the company.
Allstate ranks highly in terms of its ability to maintain solvency and pay out claims. Its Financial Strength Ratio (FSR) from rating agency A.M. Best is “Superior: A+”, which is the second highest rating possible and is due to Allstate's superior financial condition and operational performance. The company has a AA- rating from S&P Global Ratings, which is the 4th highest possible score out of 21.