What is the best car insurance company?

As a personal injury lawyer, people always ask me, “what is the best car insurance company?” I used to answer that no insurance company is good and they are all in the business of minimizing payouts on claims and maximizing premiums. Over the years, I came to realize that is not the answer people wanted to hear. They really did want to know which insurance companies were “good” and which ones were “bad.” So I gave more thought to that common question and realized that there are insurance companies which were better than others.

What differentiates insurance companies?

I have sued every insurance company you have heard of and dozens of those which you never heard of. While no insurance company voluntarily pays the full value of claims (if they did, they would be out of business), there are certain characteristics which separate insurance companies.

What makes a good insurance company?

In my 20+ years experience, the better insurance companies respond to claims promptly. If you are involved in an accident, a good insurance company will contact the persons involved in the accident within 48 hours. A good insurance company will resolve the property damage, either by totaling out the car or paying to repair the car, within seven days. A good insurance company will evaluate the personal injury claim within 30 days of being provided the documentation regarding the injury. Do these criteria seem unrealistic? I am sure you probably felt that all insurance companies should handle claims in such a manner. The sad reality is that most insurance companies do not meet these targets. Many of our clients contact us because the insurance company has not paid to fix their car, or not offered to settle their injury claim or perhaps not even contacted them at all!

It’s not the commercials

The insurance industry is highly competitive. The reason for the competition is the profit involved. For example, in 9 of the last 13 years, Allstate made a profit of over $1 billion dollars with an astounding profit of $4.9 billion in 2006. State Farm made a profit of $3.2 billion in 2013. They do not make these huge profits by paying the fair value of claims! The insurance companies spend millions of dollars on commercials in an attempt to get your premiums. Admittedly, insurance company commercials are funny and entertaining. Their slogans and jingles are catchy. But should you really select your insurance company based on commercials? A good insurance company provides prompt service with a minimum of consumer complaints.

Don’t take my word for it

While I have my own list of good and bad insurance companies based on thousands of cases, there is an objective way to measure insurance companies. A bad insurance company will have a higher rate of complaints than a good insurance company. Fortunately, the Illinois Department of Insurance tracks consumer complaints against insurance companies. You’ll see that my personal list based on experience tracks the complaints to the Department of Insurance. The worst insurance companies have the highest complaint ratio.

The 3 D’s of insurance claims

The worst insurance companies engage in the 3 D’s

  • Delay
  • Deny
  • Defend

A bad insurance company will Delay paying your claim. They will Delay paying to fix your car and Delay in settling your bodily injury claim. A bad insurance company will Deny your claim with little or no basis. Perhaps they will claim you stopped short and caused the rear end accident or they will Deny your case because of a claimed misrepresentation. Finally, should you decide to exercise your legal rights, they will Defend the case with all their resources. They will Defend the claim forcing you to hire a lawyer just to get what you deserve.

Let’s start at the bottom
In my experience, the bottom tier of insurance companies includes:

Safeway Insurance
Unique Insurance
United Equitable Insurance

The service provided by these companies is terrible. There have been times that we have called the main telephone numbers to these companies and it has just rung and rung and rung, with no one ever picking up nor is there voice mail! I feel badly when I have a client come to the office who has been involved in an accident with someone using one of the above insurance companies. I have to explain to them that it is likely to take years as well as litigation to resolve their claim.
The next tier of insurance companies is not much better. All of the preceding insurance companies as well as the following companies are considered substandard carriers. In no particular order, the next lowest tier includes:

American Alliance
American Heartland
Direct Auto
Infinity Insurance

Having one of the above insurance companies is like having no insurance at all. These companies specialize in providing the state minimum of insurance coverage. On the surface, they may appear to have lower premiums, but when there is a claim, it is like having no coverage at all.
There is a huge middle tier of insurance companies, too numerous to list, which provide substandard service. The philosophy of many of these companies is that if the ignore claims or make it so difficult, people will give up. Of course, any claim not paid increases the profit for the insurance company.

And now for what you have all been waiting for
Let me once again reiterate there are no “good” insurance companies since all of them are in business to make a profit. But, the following insurance companies generally resolve claims in a prompt manner:

State Farm

There have been instances where claims have been handled slowly by the above companies, but by and large, they are easier to deal with than the bottom tier insurance companies. When it comes to paying the full value of a claim, there are no good insurance companies. If there were, there would be no need for personal injury lawyers!
The above lists are simply based on past experience from dealing with these companies in Illinois over the years. You may have a different experience or disagree. As personal injury lawyers, the law firm of McCready Law see something which most consumers never see: how insurance companies actually treat people involved in accidents. We see how they treat people who pay premiums year after year without a claim, and how poorly they treat even their own insureds when there is a claim. We take pride in holding insurance companies responsible and forcing them to pay fair compensation to our clients. Do you have your own horror story with an insurance company, or perhaps a glowing recommendation about how a claim was handled? Let us know your experiences.

McCready Law specialize in personal injury, workers’ compensation and disability cases. If you have a question about whether you may be liable, always feel free to contact us by calling 773-779-9885 or e-mail us.

by Michael McCready