Liberty Mutual car insurance review
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- 6th largest provider of car insurance in the United States
- Focuses on offering many coverage options so you only pay for what you need
- Average or below average performance in customer satisfaction surveys
About Liberty Mutual
Liberty Mutual goes to great lengths in its ubiquitous advertising campaigns to tout the fact that it gives customers the freedom to customize their car insurance, so they only pay for the coverages they need. It’s true that the company does offer quite a bit of flexibility, as well as some interesting additional coverage options. It is worth noting, however, that the ability to pick and choose the different pieces of your coverage is fairly standard for many car insurers these days.
Some of Liberty Mutual’s more interesting coverage options are:
Accident ForgivenessAccidents can lead to significant increases in premiums. With Liberty Mutual’s Accident Forgiveness program, if you’ve had no accidents or violations for five years, your premiums will not increase when you have your first accident. Mistakes happen, but with Liberty Mutual if you have a strong track record of driving safety, you won’t have to pay for the first mistake.
Deductible FundWith Liberty Mutual’s Deductible Fund, you can save money to be applied toward a future deductible payment. You pay an extra $30 a year in premium payments, and Liberty Mutual adds an additional $70 to increase your fund by $100 each year, effectively lowering your future deductible by $100 for every year you’re in the program. The total amount is cumulative, so after 3 years of being enrolled in the program, you will have $300 to put toward your deductible if you need to use it. The downside of course is that if you never need to use your deductible, or even if you switch insurers, your contribution is lost.
New Car ReplacementTotaling a new car is an emotional challenge as well as a financial one. Because new cars depreciate extremely quickly in the first few months, it’s typical, and disheartening, to find that insurers will not cover an almost-new car with a dollar amount that will allow you to replace it with a new version of itself. This of course only adds to your emotional challenge. Liberty Mutual’s New Car Replacement policy add-on provides the full replacement value for cars that are less than a year old, with fewer than 15,000 miles. It’s one less thing to worry about with your new car purchase.
Better Car ReplacementIf instead of a new car you drive an older vehicle, Liberty Mutual’s Better Car Replacement option lets you replace a totaled vehicle with a car that’s one model year newer and has 15,000 fewer miles. This coverage violates what many insurance experts recommend, which is that if your car has little value to begin with, you are best off minimizing or even eliminating the amount of premiums you pay for collision and comprehensive, which Better Car Replacement is a version of.
- A broad array of coverage types available
- Policy periods are 12 months rather than 6, meaning there are fewer opportunities for rate increases
- Very strong digital interface and tools via website and mobile app
- Possible for some high-risk drivers to obtain insurance, including those needing an SR-22
- Rates are not outstanding for customers who don’t fit into Liberty Mutual’s target of insuring homeowners with multiple cars
- High customer complaint scores, both online and with state regulators
The buying process
You can purchase Liberty Mutual car insurance either directly, meaning buying a policy online or by calling Liberty Mutual directly, or via the company’s network of 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 Liberty Mutual 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.
Liberty Mutual 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.
Liberty Mutual has a wide range of discounts based on different factors. Not all are available in every state, so you have to check based on where you live. Some of the ways you can save include:
- Being a new Liberty Mutual customer
- Buying a policy online
- Insuring multiple cars
- Home ownership, even if insured by a different company
- Bundling multiple Liberty Mutual policies, such as home and auto coverage
- Paying your full premium in advance or enrolling in automatic payments
- Going paperless for communications about your policy
- For students, getting good grades or leaving the car at home while you’re away at college
- Having safety features like anti-lock brakes, lane departure warnings and anti-theft device
- Being an active, retired or reserve member of the US military
- Being affiliated with certain employers, alumni associations, or professional groups
- Driving a hybrid or electric car
In some states Liberty Mutual also offers the RightTrack program, in which you allow the company to monitor your driving with a phone app and a small device attached to the windshield. RightTrack measures your driving habits like accelerating, braking distance, and the time of day you drive. You receive a discount just for signing up, and if the system determines during the 90-day evaluation period that your driving is low risk, you can receive even greater discounts of up to 30% for the life of the policy.
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 RightTrack, and you are a good driver, the savings could be significant.
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 Liberty Mutual’s service 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, Liberty Mutual seems to have a somewhat greater percentage of unhappy customers than many other large car insurers, and we do not rate it very highly in terms of claims service. You can find reviews of Liberty Mutual 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.
Liberty Mutual 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 “Excellent: A”, which is the third highest rating possible (out of 16) and is due to Liberty Mutual's superior financial condition and operational performance. The company has an A rating from S&P Global Ratings, which is the sixth highest possible score (out of 21.) The implication is that Liberty Mutual has very solid financial security, but it is somewhat more likely to be affected by adverse business conditions than companies with higher ratings.