Nationwide Insurance Summary
Nationwide is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, and currently employs over 35,000 people throughout the country. They are one of the largest insurance companies in the United States, and have over $150 billion in assets under their control. Their primary business is property and casualty insurance, but both their retirement and banking divisions are growing rapidly. On the insurance side, Nationwide primarily sells their products through third-party agents, but they have added functionality to their website to allow for quotes in auto insurance and home insurance.
Nationwide has become one of the largest insurance companies in the US through growth and acquisitions. They are the flagship name for many subsidiary companies, such as Titan Insurance, Victoria Insurance, Allied Insurance, and Scottsdale Insurance. The company was founded in 1925 as the Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. They changed their name in 1955 to Nationwide Insurance, and have remained that ever since. The company is structured as a mutual, so policyholders are actually considered members and not customers. Company profits are used to offset premium costs, so during good years, members may receive dividend checks or discounts on their insurance.
Nationwide was founded as a car insurance company, and it has remained one of their most important business divisions since. Their policies are offered in 44 states plus Washington DC, and their coverage terms include a standard set of protections, including liability and property damage. Their auto policies can be supplemented with optional add-ons like comprehensive, collision, rental car reimbursement, and roadside assistance. For states that require it, medical payments coverage and personal injury protection is also available.
In addition to the different coverage types, Nationwide has a few features unique to their auto insurance which they use for marketing purposes. As with most of their competitors, these “additional benefits” are more for attracting new customers with fancy commercials rather than providing truly tangible benefits.
Vanishing Deductible® – Similar to Safeco’s diminishing deductible, Nationwide offers an optional add-on to their auto policies that reduce the deductible amount every year you drive without a claim. So if you go five years without filing an auto claim, your deductible can go down by $500 (maximum amount). These lowering deductibles have become quite popular with the major insurance carriers over the past few years, and they really seem to be more hype than substance. Nationwide charges you extra for this feature, so if you really are a good driver you could end up paying more than you save over the life of your policy. At its core, car insurance is supposed to keep you from going bankrupt due to an accident. The Vanishing Deductible® is just a distraction and a marketing tool, in our opinion.
On Your Side® Review – According to Nationwide’s website, every policyholder is entitled to “free advice” known as the On Your Side® Review. During the consultation, an agent will go over your entire auto policy as well as any other insurance needs you may have. What this is called everywhere else is “an agent doing their job.” Again, there is nothing special about an On Your Side® Review besides a canned set of questions an agent may ask you. Sitting down with an agent from just about any other insurance company will more than likely yield similar results.
Nationwide can provide homeowners, renters, condo, and flood insurance in 43 states, including Washington DC. They also provide discounts to individuals who bundle their home insurance policy with other Nationwide insurance policies. This is pretty standard for the insurance industry as a whole, but Nationwide offers up to 20%, which is a generous discount. Just like their auto insurance policies, their home insurance policies are sold primarily through the use of third-party agents, but they do allow for potential customers and current members to run quotes on their website.
Brand New Belongings® – Nationwide homeowner’s insurance includes a benefit they call Brand New Belongings® that claims to pay for the actual cost associated with buying a new version of what you lost, rather than just the actual cash value, which factors in depreciation. If a loss occurs, Nationwide will send a check for the actual cash value, then provide the difference once receipts have been submitted. This is actually very typical in many home insurance plans, and is referred to as “replacement value” coverage. Nationwide just came up with a catchy title and had it trademarked.
Nationwide also has a good-sized life insurance business, where they sell most of the major products on the market today. They include term life insurance, whole life insurance, universal life insurance, and variable life insurance. Their universal and variable life products have a few different options, depending on the underlying investments you are looking for. Unfortunately you are not able to get a quote for anything, including term life, on their website, and must speak with a licensed financial adviser in order to get personalized information.
The total product offerings from Nationwide include retirement and banking products, but those are beyond the scope of this review. Here is a list of the rest:
Nationwide Insurance Price (Rates)
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The premium for our auto insurance rate test came in 31% above the average for all companies we have tested so far. It fact, this was the third highest rate we have ever received, one of those being Nationwide when we ran the test last year. Unfortunately, the rate is less than $1 below what it was previously. Potential customers should note that Nationwide is a mutual, so in theory you may get some of your premium back at the end of the year. But there is no guarantee of that, so we have to go off of what the actual premium price is today.
Nationwide has revamped their online claims center since the last time we reviewed them, and have added a few features to help members with their claims. To report a claim, you can call 800-421-3535 or file it on their website. As with most insurance companies, Nationwide has a network of pre-approved repair shops that they would prefer you to get your work done through. You are not required to, but they guarantee the work and have a little added bonus called AutoWatch®. AutoWatch® allows you to monitor the repair process from Nationwide’s website, view messages from the mechanic, and see pictures of the repairs. From what we can gather, this information is updated daily.
Consumer Research and Complaints
According to multiple customer satisfaction surveys performed by Consumer Reports and JD Power, Nationwide falls in the “average” category nearly every time. A 2010 reader survey by Consumer Reports awarded Nationwide an 85 out of 100, which gave them their best score and declared their members were “very satisfied” in the Overall Insurer Rating category. In 2011, JD Power released their US Insurance Shopping Study results, which rated Nationwide 3 out of 5 (about average). In 2012, a US Auto Claims survey done by JD Power gave Nationwide 3 out of 5 for Overall Satisfaction. Finally, Nationwide scored another 3 out of 5 for Overall Experience in JD Power’s 2013 Auto Insurance Purchase Experience study.
The Better Business Bureau is currently reporting an A rating for Nationwide Insurance, and shows they have been accredited since 1955. According to the report, there have been 324 complaints filed in the last three years, 105 of which came in the previous 12 months. Problems with Product/Service is by far the number one complaint, with over 60% of all issues falling under that topic. 230 complaints in the last three years have been resolved with the BBB’s assistance, while 94 complaints are still not up to the customers satisfaction level, even though the BBB feels Nationwide made a good faith effort to resolve them.
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Nationwide is a very large insurance company that can provide coverage for just about anything an individual or family would need. They spend a lot of money on marketing, and have very catchy names for industry standard practices. Our rate test showed them as one of the most expensive auto insurers we have ever reviewed, but that does not factor in any possible dividend payment you could receive at the end of the year. They are financially strong, have a good product list, received mediocre consumer ratings, and expensive.
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.