Erie Insurance Summary
Erie Insurance was founded in 1925 as a Pennsylvania auto insurer. Its name comes from its founding city of Erie, Pennsylvania. The company would not begin selling policies in other states until 1953, when it expanded to Maryland. Today, Erie Insurance offers policies throughout 11 states and is a Fortune 500 company.
In addition to private auto insurance, Erie offers commercial policies, homeowners insurance and life insurance coverage. These policies are sold through independent agencies, with around 10,000 agents selling them around the country. The company employs about 4,500 people and brings in nearly $160 million in net income annually.
Unlike many of its competitors, Erie does not utilize humorous advertising, instead focusing on a more serious approach. Its Facebook page uses the quote, They give you funny advertising. We give you seriously good insurance. Another of the company’s tag lines is Funny ads are great. Until you have a claim.
Erie began by selling auto insurance, and these policies are still the leading product offered by the company. They offer basic liability insurance and full-coverage policies including collision, comprehensive, uninsured motorist and first-party medical insurance. Extra coverages can be added on a per-case basis, providing things like rental reimbursement and towing coverage.
Additionally, Erie offers Auto Enhancement Endorsements; bundled riders for extended benefits. Among the benefits included in this rider are additional transportation expense days, death benefits to insureds and increased policy limits for things like sound equipment or personal effects.
Most discounts offered by Erie are standard among insurers, including reduced rates for multiple policies, vehicle safety features and driver safety course completion. The company also offers a loyalty discount to insureds whose policies have been held for more than three years, and a diminishing deductible program is available for long-term safe drivers.
Erie offers property insurance to homeowners, renters and condo dwellers. The company offers two main policy options. The first, HomeProtector, is basic homeowners insurance available in three coverage options:
- Broadcover – Protects the home, personal belongings, and other structures on the property against certain named perils.
- Extracover – Offers comprehensive coverage for buildings and named perils on personal property. Comprehensive homeowners coverages protect against all but excluded perils.
- Ultracover – Provides comprehensive coverage to all of an insured’s structures and property.
For customers looking for additional protection, Erie offers endorsement bundles through its ErieSecure plans.
These endorsement bundles come in three tiers:
- Advantage – Includes identity recovery and fraud reimbursement coverage. It also offers an increased limit on certain items of personal property, especially when lost through theft.
- Plus – Includes everything from “Advantage” in addition to boosted limits for watercraft, trailers, personal computers and debris removal. This package also covers business personal property. Additionally, losses over $50,000 can qualify for a deductible waiver.
- Select – Offers all of the above benefits but also includes boosted policy limits.
Erie offers term, whole and universal life insurance products to its customers:
- Term Life Insurance – Available in 10, 15, 20 or 30 years. During that term or before age 70, whichever happens first, you can convert the policy to a permanent life plan. The Erie LifeSense plan provides benefits up to $90,000 and can be obtained without a medical exam or other forms. Term policies with larger benefits can be obtained as well though these will take longer to purchase.
- Whole Life Insurance – Offers guaranteed protection throughout the life of the insured so long as the policy remains in effect. The policy has a cash value, and premiums do not change regardless of changes in the policyholder’s health. Riders can be added, allowing the policy to be paid up within 20 years or to keep the policy in effect until age 100.
- Universal Life Insurance – This plan accumulates cash value over time based on the premium level that you establish. Policies can be issued to people under the age of 85 and will last as long as the premiums are paid.
Small business owners can obtain several types of protection from Erie, including business property coverage, risk control and liability. Coverages can be customized to meet the needs of the insured and his business.
Many specific types of companies are serviced by Erie, including wholesale, retail, religious organizations, real estate companies, manufacturing businesses and more. Each type of business has its own unique coverage packages created to suit the company’s needs.
Erie Insurance Price (Rates)
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The result of our rate quote test showed a monthly premium of $299.50, which is substantially higher than all other tests we have done. Since Erie does not sell insurance in California, we chose New York for the testing site. After doing some research we found that on average, car insurance in New York costs more than California, so it is not fair to compare these prices straight across.
Statewide, New York costs about 25% more than California, so we added 25% to the base average from our previous tests. To account for the fact that we chose an address in Manhattan, we added another 5% to the rate increase. At the time of this review, the average Southern California quote was $188. Adding 30% to that rate gives us $244, which gives a much better comparison.
Claims can be reported in one of three ways: By
- Call your agent
- Call a claims office
- File a claim online
The claims phone number and online reporting system are available 24/7. To file a claim or ask a question, call 800-367-3743.
Once the initial claim has been filed, it will be assigned to a claim handler based on its complexity. Simple losses are handled inside the claims facility; more complex losses are sent to a licensed adjuster to establish liability, investigate the loss or otherwise dig deeper into the claim. Additional experts, like medical adjusters, may be assigned to the claim as well to handle these aspects of the loss.
Whether you’ve been assigned an adjuster or are having the claim handled by a team, you should be advised of the next steps. Generally, the damaged property or vehicle will need to be inspected and an estimate obtained. Repairs can be arranged after this point.
Life insurance claims are handled differently. The beneficiaries will need to call 800-458-0811 and choose option 3. The beneficiary will need to provide a death certificate, identifying information, the original policy contract, and a life insurance claimant’s statement in order to obtain benefits. All documents must be mailed, not faxed, to the Erie Family Life Insurance Company mailbox.
Consumer Research and Complaints
In J.D. Power and Associates’ 2013 Auto Insurance Purchase Experience survey, Erie Insurance ranked very highly. It earned four out of five stars for policy offerings and price, and five out of five for local agent quality and overall purchase experience.
Erie Insurance’s corporate office is listed on the Better Business Bureau website, but it is not BBB accredited and has no rating. No complaints are listed on the corporate page. Individual Erie agencies also have separate listings on BBB.org, with varying results.
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Erie scores very high across the board, except when it comes to price. They consistently score towards the top when it comes to customer service, claims processes and financial strength. However, they continue to be one of the most expensive insurance companies we have reviewed. For customers willing to pay more for better service, Erie is worth considering. People looking to keep premiums low will be better off somewhere else.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.
Best Insurance Quote Providers:Auto Insurance - Liberty Mutual
Home Insurance - Liberty Mutual
Life Insurance - QuinStreet Life
Health Insurance - eHealthInsurance
Business Insurance - Hiscox Insurance
About the Author
I am a former insurance agent turned consumer advocate. My priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best place to get it.