Elephant car insurance review
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- Targeted at customers not interested in working with an agent
- Real-time tracking of roadside service assistance
- Subsidiary of UK-based insurance giant Admiral Group PLC
About Elephant Insurance
Elephant Insurance certainly has an unlikely name. You are probably tempted to ask what elephants have to do with insurance. According to the company,
“Elephant may not seem like the most logical name for an insurance company, but actually, it’s a pretty great fit. We think the qualities of an elephant perfectly match how we do business and approach insurance. Elephants are big, strong, and built to last. At the same time, they are kind, caring, and look out for their herd.”
As a customer, you become a member of Elephant’s herd. And it’s an internet-savvy herd, because Elephant employs a direct-only model for delivering insurance products. That means there are no agents, and you only interact with the company through the internet or on the phone to a call center. Admittedly, if this is not the way you want to shop for, buy, and maintain car insurance, then Elephant is probably not the company for you.
Of course in today’s market, there is a growing body of consumers who prefer to interact only via the internet, so Elephant’s model has an audience. The audience is somewhat restricted, however, by the fact that the company currently only serves eight states: Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Maryland, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
Elephant was founded in 2009 for the US market, but the company is a subsidiary of Admiral Group PLC, a FTSE 100 company and one of the U.K.’s leading insurers with a presence in eight countries and over 6 million customers worldwide. Elephant sells other types of insurance besides auto, such as homeowners, renters, and life, but only by offering policies from other companies. While the company does not write these policies, offering them allows it to provide a bundling discount in some states.
Elephant prides itself on making insurance easy, helping customers feel confident in their coverage choices by laying out their options in a way that makes sense–free of jargon and straight to the point. Beyond the standard coverage types, such as liability, uninsured motorist, comprehensive, collision, and medical payments, Elephant offers some interesting features and options.
Decreasing deductibleIf you have collision coverage, for every year you are accident-free, Elephant will add $100 to a deductible fund, effectively reducing your collision deductible by $100 per year, up to a total of $500, rewarding you for maintaining a clean driving record.
Legal assistance coverageThis coverage, which can cost as little as $5 per month, pays for legal fees arising from traffic charges, estate planning, family law, and other matters.
Roadside assistanceElephant’s roadside assistance coverage is provided through a partnership with Urgent.ly, a technology-based platform that lets customers track the location of its service providers in real time, removing some of the uncertainty around when help will arrive.
Gap insuranceThis optional coverage insures you against having an “underwater” loan on your car if you are in an accident that totals your car. If the current value of the car–the amount that is reimbursed by Elephant–is less than what you owe to a lender, gap insurance makes up the difference, allowing you to pay off the loan without having to go into your own pocket. You must purchase both comprehensive and collision coverage, and have a loan on the car, to be eligible for gap insurance.
- Unlike many companies, Elephant offers 12-month policies to lock in rates without increases for longer periods than the frequently seen maximum of 6 months
- Focus on internet-based communication and service caters to tech-savvy, often younger customers
- Significant number of discounts available, keeping premiums from being outrageously high
- Even with discounts, on average prices are not particularly low
- Only available in a limited number of states
- The number of complaints to state regulators is above average for Elephant’s size
The buying process
Elephant does not sell through agents, instead utilizing a direct method of either online or over the phone with centralized sales agents. The process involves entering your ZIP code to see if coverage is offered in your area, and then entering personal contact information, details on the vehicles you want to insure, and information about the drivers who will be on the policy.
You are guided through the process of choosing specific coverage options in a helpful way, with explanations of the different coverage choices provided in simple, clear language–an area in which Elephant seeks to distinguish itself compared to its competitors.
Some quote-seekers find Elephant’s online quote service a fun experience to walk through, giving them a better handle on the things that are important to identify about their insurance needs.
Elephant offers discounts for bundling car insurance with other coverages, such as homeowners and life, so you may want to consider this during the buying process. These policies are not written by Elephant but are instead sold by Elephant on behalf of partner insurers.
Elephant has a wide range of discounts based on different factors, including:
- Multi-car discount
- Safe car discount for having features like hands-free calling that keep you and other drivers safe
- Responsible driver discount for avoiding accidents for extended periods
- Multi-policy discount for bundling your car insurance with other policies offered through Elephant
- Good student discount for students with very good grades
- Online quote discount for undertaking the purchase process online
- Electronic signature discount for avoiding signing documents in person
- Paperless account discount for avoiding paper communications
- Pay in full discount for paying your full premium in one lump sum
Elephant also offers a driver tracking option through its mobile phone app. The system 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. Unlike many other car insurers in recent years, Elephant does not seem to be promoting this option very heavily.
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, and you are a good driver, the savings could be significant.
Claims and customer experience
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 Elephant 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, Elephant seems to have a larger-than-average proportion of negative and angry reviews than many of its competitors. Some of the complaints are about issues with payments, unhelpful service representatives, and premium increases. When it comes to claims, some reviews focus on claims being slow and difficult. There are, however, a solid number of positive reviews that focus on Elephant’s low rates. Elephant is accredited with the Better Business Bureau with an A+ rating.
You can find reviews of Elephant 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.
Elephant is in an interesting situation, because it is quite small and thus has not been rated by A.M. Best, S&P, or Fitch Ratings. However, its U.K.-based parent company, Admiral Group, is ranked highly by Fitch Ratings for its ability to maintain solvency and pay out claims. Admiral’s Insurer Financial Strength (IFS) Rating is “A+ (Strong)”, which is the fifth highest rating possible out of 19 and is due to Admiral's very strong financial performance and earnings, strong capitalization, leading position in the UK car insurance market, and favorable levels of financial reserves.