National General Insurance Summary
National General Insurance (formerly known as GMAC Insurance) is a nationwide insurer that began as a part of General Motors, and is the only insurance company to successfully be spun off from an auto manufacturer. The company’s headquarters are in Winston-Salem, NC, and they currently employ over 3,000 people in the US.
During the economic downturn, the GMAC business unit was separated from General Motors, and subsequently bailed out by the Federal Government. Since then, the banking and lending division was re-branded as Ally Financial, and as of July 2013 the insurance division has taken a new name, National General Insurance.
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National General’s primary business is auto insurance. Their policies offer the same coverage types found with just about every other major insurer, including comprehensive, collision and liability protection. Unlike most other insurance companies we have reviewed, their “unique features” actually have some benefits not commonly found. These are primarily used as marketing gimmicks, but drivers may actually find something with National General that they cannot get anywhere else:
- SmartServices® – This feature is packed with a lot of standard stuff like a rental car that will pick you up (usually just Enterprise Rent-a-car) and roadside assistance, but it also comes with a few services not commonly found. SmartInspect® provides inspections after a car has been repaired in order to verify it is in working order. SmartReplacement® is a service that assists in finding the exact car a driver wants after their’s is totaled in a covered loss.
- SmartDiscounts® – The discounts offered by National General Insurance contains a pretty typical list that you would find with many other companies. They include things like paid-in-full, multi-vehicle, safe-driver, and multi-policy. But they also offer a few discounts that are unique to their customers. Policyholders that have other GM or GMAC products (like a GM card, mortgage, or GM vehicle) can get a discount. Policies that contain only GM cars (more than one) can also get a discount. Even people who subscribe to OnStar can get a reduction in their premiums.
National General offers homeowners insurance, but they do not actually underwrite the policy. Similar to companies like Progressive and GEICO, home, renters and condo insurance can be purchased and serviced through them, but there is a different company that is actually paying the bills. Because of this, specific details will vary by state. However, the vast majority of plans will come with standard protection like personal property and home liability.
Recreational Vehicle (RV) Insurance
National General Insurance has a fairly large base of RV customers that get coverage from them. Their plans are similar in nature to their car insurance, and they offer a lot of the same features. The policies are actually underwritten by National General Insurance.
National General Price (Rates)
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According to our rate test, National General was about 9% higher than the other insurance companies we have tested using the same details. It looks like the extra features the car insurance policies come with adds to the cost. Anyone interested in National General Insurance is invited to get their own quote, since it can certainly vary. Drivers of GM cars may also see a reduction, since they give a discount for them.
Reporting a claim can be done three different ways; file it online, call 800-325-1088 and report it directly, or use their iPhone app. The claims department is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Once the claim is started, a representative will be assigned to assist during the process. Pictures and supporting documents of the loss can be submitted through an online portal on their website, and the progress of the claim can also be tracked.
Consumer Research and Complaints
In 2012, JD Power did a study of the US auto insurance industry that focused on the claims process of the major insurance companies. National General Insurance (GMAC at the time) received 3 out of 5 for “Overall Satisfaction” which meant about average. They scored a three in every category except First Notice of Loss, in which they got a two. A similar study in 2013 that focused on the purchase experience of a policy rated National General 2 out of 5, which was below average. The company suffered the lowest ratings in the categories Policy Offerings and Call Center Representative.
There are multiple entries for National General on the Better Business Bureau’s website, and it is difficult to determine which one people are using most. The “official” entry shows the company as accredited, but with no rating and no comments or complaints. However, this entry is very difficult to find when using a search engine like Google. The one that shows in search results has an address for an office in Missouri and shows a B- rating. This appears to be an old GMAC insurance entry, and looks as if it is the most active with consumers. There have been 37 complaints filed in the last three years, 14 of which have come in the previous 12 months.
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National General Insurance actually does offer a few unique features with their auto insurance policies, but you will pay for it. Their premiums came in almost 10% higher than all the other companies we have tested. Their consumer advocacy reports are below average, and their Better Business Bureau rating is low. There is not a lot of information about their financial strength, which could be due to the fact that they changed their name in July 2013. Overall, there is nothing that stands as overly positive about this company.
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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.