Nationwide Insurance Review

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Let me first say, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company is huge. Therefore, this review is quite lengthy. I have done my best to slim it down to only the important points, and I am confident it will aid you in your research if you make it to the end.

With any large organization, you undoubtedly will have good things as well as bad things. And while we can go on for days about each and every business facet under the Nationwide banner, the focus of this review (for the most part) will be on their insurance business.

Lets begin.

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Overview

Originally founded in 1925 as the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, Nationwide changed their name in 1955 to Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.

Who is Nationwide today?

Acquisition is the name and Nationwide is winning the game!

As one of the biggest organizations in the world and certainly one of the largest insurance companies, Nationwide has achieved their big size through not only organic growth, but continued acquisition and partnership.

Nationwide is the flagship name for a number of subsidiary companies, including:

In total, there are over 70 companies that fall under the Nationwide banner.

Nationwide is structured as a mutual company, so unlike a publicly traded organization in which ownership is expressed in stock, Nationwide’s policyholders are technically the owners. In theory, this type of corporate structure allows for profits and losses to be passed to members (policyholders) often in the form of premium increases/decreases and dividends.

So what does that mean for you?

There are positives and negatives that come with a true mutual insurance company. On the plus side, the organization is supposed to operate in the best interest of the policyholders, as well as pass savings along to you. On the negative side, policyholders can be on the hook for bad financial years (higher premiums).

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Insurance Products

Nationwide is a full service insurance company, and offers a number of products to their customers. This section will dive into the different insurance coverage options available, as well as my thoughts about them.

Auto Insurance

Nationwide was founded as a car insurance company and that aspect of their business continues to be the largest part of their overall portfolio. In addition to car insurance, Nationwide also offers coverage for:

  • Motorcycles
  • Snowmobiles
  • ATVs
  • RVs
  • Boats
  • Personal Watercraft
  • Scooters

Nationwide offers insurance policies in 44 states & Washington DC, with coverage terms that include a standard set of protection, typically referred to as bodily injury and property liability.

Their auto insurance policies can be supplemented with optional add-ons:

  • Collision
  • Comprehensive
  • Uninsured Motorist
  • Underinsured Motorist
  • Roadside Assistance
  • Medical Payment Coverage
  • Personal Injury Protection
  • Gap Insurance
  • Rental Reimbursement

In addition to standard insurance offerings, Nationwide’s marketing department has devised products and features to help them stand out from the crowd. We have found, as with most of their competitors, these additional “add-ons” are used more to build fancy commercials with catchy jingles in an effort to attract new customers. When you get down to the meat of these products, they often lack much value for the policyholder.

Vanishing Deductible®

Similar to Safeco’s diminishing deductible, Nationwide offers as an add-on (add-ons are typically not free) to your basic auto policy. I am sure we have all seen the commercials presenting it as a cost saver.

The sales pitch states you can lower your deductible by $100 (max $500) for every year of safe driving. That sounds great on paper, but according to this example by CarInsurance.com, the numbers do not really add up long term. Many people end up paying more for the feature than it’s actually worth.

Accident Forgiveness®

It is my opinion that this is also an unnecessary add-on that ultimately drives up the price of premiums. Insurance companies are never going to take a loss on a feature like this, so it’s almost guaranteed to be priced at a point that most people pay more than they use.

This type of add-on seems a lot like an extended warranty to me. Sure there are people that swear by them because it bailed them out once or twice, but over the life of a driving career, the majority of people will pay more into it than they ever get out. We already do that with insurance as a whole, so tacking on additional “features” just drains more dollars over the long haul.

On Your Side® Review

This just smells like another marketing gimmick.

According to Nationwide’s website, every policyholder is entitled to “free advice” known as the On Your Side® Review. Nationwide markets this as a product providing the benefits of confidence and peace of mind that you will gain all the information you need to make an educated decision regarding your insurance needs.

You know what I call it? An agent doing their job.

There is nothing special about an On Your Side® Review. Sitting down with an agent from just about any other insurance company is likely to yield similar results. For example, just take a look at State Farm’s Discount Double Check.

Car Insurance Discounts

As far as auto insurance discounts go, Nationwide has a lot of them. They include:

  • Multi-policy (up to 25%) – Bundle your home, auto and life
  • Nationwide Family Plan® (up to 25%) – Cover your entire family
  • Accident free discount (up to 5%) – After 5 years safe driving
  • Good student discount (up to 15%) – Teens with a B average
  • Farm Bureau discount (up to 10%) – Available only in select states
  • Defensive driving discount (up to 10%) – Approved safe driving courses
  • Anti-theft discount (up to 5%) – Vehicle alarm, GPS, etc.
  • Easy pay sign-up discount ($30 off) – Electronic fund transfer (paperless)
  • Affinity car insurance discount (up to 10%)

Property Insurance

Property insurance generally offers protections against pretty much everything that could go wrong with your home and/or the personal belongings inside. Specifically, things like earthquakes, flooding, wind, rain, tornado damage, sewage backup, burglary and so on.

Nationwide Homeowners Insurance Coverage

Nationwide, as I have mentioned already, is a big company, and offers an extensive list of product offerings. Nationwide’s homeowners insurance is no different:

  • Personal Liability
  • Dwelling
  • Replacement Cost Plus
  • Water Backup, Sewage
  • Scheduled Personal Property
  • Other Structure Coverage
  • Contents Coverage

Like Nationwide did for their auto product lines, they too have devised quite the marketing plan to differentiate their product offerings from others.

Nationwide’s Brand New Belongings®

I bet you have heard of Nationwide’s Brand New Belongings®, or at least seen the commercials were the ninja girl dressed all in black follows the burglars and replaces all stolen items with “brand new” versions.

This add-on is nothing more than extended replacement coverage for your belongings, which many insurance companies are willing to sell you. What extended replacement coverage means is an insurance company will pay more than just the depreciated value of an item lost in a covered accident.

Here is an example:

If you buy a laptop for $800 and use it for a year, the actual value of that laptop is probably more like $300 now that it is old and used. If that laptop was lost in a fire, some insurance policies would pay you what it was worth that day, so $300. With extended replacement coverage (a.k.a. Brand New Belongings) the insurance company would pay you what it costs to actually get a new one.

An important caveat to this program (which Nationwide explains on their website) is that the actual cash value of the item will be reimbursed up front (so the $300 from the example above). The remaining amount will be reimbursed after you purchase the replacement and supply a receipt to the insurance company. This is pretty standard for extended replacement coverage.

Nationwide’s Better Roof Replacement®

To be perfectly honest, I don’t really get this one.

The basics of this feature is Nationwide will rebuild your roof at a “higher standard” than the previous one, on the off chance you have a covered loss that requires your roof to be replaced.

If an insurance company pays to have a customer’s roof replaced, you would think they would have a vested interest in making sure the roof was rebuilt in a good manner, since they are probably still insuring it. The idea that a customer needs to pay more in order to guarantee a good roof rebuild sounds weird to me.

Homeowners Policy Discounts

Just like with their car insurance, Nationwide offers a number of ways to lower your home insurance premiums:

  • Multi-Policy – Save up to 20% if you bundle home and auto
  • Protective Device Discount – Up to a 15% discount with alarms (fire, burglary, smoke etc.)
  • Claims-Free – File no claims, you may get a discount
  • Age of Construction – Savings depending on the age of your home
  • Age of insured – Over 60? You may receive additional savings
  • Personal Status – Married? Widowed? Make sure they know

Life Insurance

Nationwide offers just about every type of life insurance an individual or family may be looking for. In addition to the coverage options, they also provide some basic tools on their website designed to help you determine the type of life insurance that is right for you.

A word of caution before using insurance company website tools: Use them with a grain of salt. They are ultimately created by the organization trying to sell you something, so keep that in mind.

Products offered:

I am going to take a quick opportunity to inject a little bit of my personal opinion as it pertains to life insurance. If you are reading this section, then it may be of interest to you. If not, simply skip down a few paragraphs.

Here is the thing when it comes to life insurance – Most agents will try and sell you whole, variable and universal policies.

Why? Because they make a lot of money from them.

Somewhere along the line, insurance companies figured out they could package life insurance with “investments” and get their hands into the lucrative money management game. It is my strong belief that most people are best served by purchasing cheap, term life insurance policies and investing the difference.

But this is neither the time, nor place to dive into this. If you want to read more about my thoughts on the matter, check out why term life insurance is better than whole life insurance.

Ready for a break? Watch my video review of Nationwide Insurance:



Nationwide Insurance Rates and Premiums

Nationwide is expensive.

When performing our car insurance rate quote test, they came in roughly 30% higher than the average. That makes Nationwide one the most expensive insurance companies we have reviewed, so if you are looking for low cost insurance, there is no need to continue reading.

If Nationwide is so expensive, how do they insure millions of people?

Well the answer can be as simple as you get what you pay for.

A more complicated response would touch on the point that Nationwide is a mutual company and so during financially strong periods of time, cost savings and dividends may be awarded back to their policyholders.

Insurance needs must also be considered. If you have your home, life, vehicles and businesses insured with Nationwide, multiple policy discounts can drastically lower premiums.

There are a number of other reasons Nationwide’s higher price can be justified, even if you are only insuring your car. The sheer volume of Nationwide’s infrastructure, including their total loss departments, ensures fast, convenient and efficient claims handling. The better the claims handling process, the faster you get paid.

Nationwide Claims

Remember I used Nationwide’s very large infrastructure as a cost justification? Claims handling is where this infrastructure brings value to you as the insured.

The average person’s exposure to auto insurance is often limited to making a premium payment, and those rare instances when they are involved in an accident. Therefore insurance companies have two very important client touch points, cost and claims handling. If they are bad at one they better be great at the other, and we already know how Nationwide performs when it comes to cost.

Few others have the capability to handle the claims process as well as Nationwide.

There are five (5) ways to start a claim:

  • Phone – 800-421-3535
  • OnlineClaims Center
  • Call your agent
  • Log into your personal Nationwide account
  • Nationwide’s mobile app

Easy, right?

In my opinion, if ever Nationwide’s mantra of being On Your Side holds true, it’s during the claims process.

Nationwide Mobile App

It’s no Angry Birds, but I have found it quite functional.

Nationwide currently offers applications for both the iPhone and Android, and the general sense of the app reviews are good.

The app is free, very functional, and easy to navigate. I was easily able to obtain a quote and find local agents. Additionally, my research revealed that those with Nationwide insurance policies can do a lot of handy stuff right on their phone.

Nationwide also has a mobile app for banking, the Nationwide Bank app. It is also free and seemingly quite functional. I imagine it would be even more functional if I banked with Nationwide.

Customer Feedback

Generally, I found people seem to be pretty happy with their Nationwide insurance. Many policyholders claim they have been with them for many years and insure everything from their vehicles to their businesses.

I did pick up on one negative trend: people being dropped after filing a claim.

There is also some bad mouthing of the company out there, which is to be expected with a company of this size. What I try and do is look for trends, specifically negative ones, and with the exception of people claiming to have been dropped, there doesn’t seem to be many glaring issues.

Overall, people have positive things to say about the customer service Nationwide provides, specifically during the claims process.

Contrary to everything I just said about customer reviews, the Better Business Bureau rates Nationwide’s overall customer experience as negative. In addition the BBB shows similar, poor results regarding customers recommending Nationwide to others, where 87.1% of the time the answer was no. Remember, in most cases people go to the BBB when they have something to complain about.

The BBB reports 365 total complaints in the last 3 years, with 152 of them filled in the last 12 months. All 365 complaints have been closed. 74% of the complaints were regarding problems with products and services.

My opinion is Nationwide appears to take pretty good care of the customers they have.

Charitable Contributions

Nationwide has always been, and remains, an extremely charitable organization.

In 2007 Nationwide donated $50 million to Columbus Children’s Hospital. After their donation the hospital changed its name to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Aside from their charitable contributions Nationwide is a large corporate sponsor. Here are a few of their sponsorships:

  • Jack Hanna & the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium’s Into the Wild TV show
  • Professional Golfers Association of America’s Memorial Tournament
  • NASCAR Nationwide Series
  • Assisting the City of Columbus gain major league sports teams
  • Cincinnati Bengals

Bottom Line

Nationwide is expensive. If you are looking for cheap insurance, look elsewhere.

If you are interested in more than just low cost, then Nationwide is worth exploring. They offer practically every type of personal insurance known to man, and their claims process seems fair and reasonable.

Just do me a favor. Please don’t fall for their gimmick products. If you think you need a magic deductible or fancy roof replacements, make sure you completely understand what you are getting and how much it will ultimately cost.

For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.

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Summary
Reviewer
Eric Stauffer
Review Date
Reviewed
Nationwide Insurance
Author Rating
3

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Comments

  1. Jessica Finkbine says

    You lumped Flood protection in with Home insurance!!! Please clarify this for people who may be reading your review… People reading such things could take this very literal! Nationwide does have a team that is dedicated to providing Flood insurance separate from the home policy through the NFIP. This is the National Flood Insurance Program through our government.

  2. Constance M Roberson says

    After reviewing your website for Nationwide it amazes me that you have such high ratings. Considering and certainly taking into account my experience I had with my renters insurance with Nationwide. So I decided to put in writing the truth about your company in my experience because I have never seen this side of Nationwide.

    I took out renters insurance for my apartment, insured for $300,000.00 with Nationwide. I also took out full coverage insurance on my car and paid my contract in full on day of the phone call. I’ll just get right to the point. They blatantly breached their contact with me, even after one of their agents came to my apartment for review of its contents. Heres the real scoop.

    I was relatively new in the area of Anderson, South Carolina and with employment down spiraling and crime forced to live in an area that would be better priced for tough times to come but nice. Not the gated communities I was accustomed to in what now I feel is another lifetime.

    The insurance agent arrived after taking out the renters insurance policy to ask questions, look or see whatever necessary in the event anything that the unforeseen would happen. Just what they are their for, its their job, I was new, I felt if the came all the way out to my apartment then he would know what to do in order to complete the policy if any changed should b made. Nothing was changed or remotely discussed about any changes for policy amount nothing…

    Later, the tragedy happened, Nationwide, called their attorney to try and scoot out of my contract of renters insurance with them to protect and replace items missing and put me back in the place I was prior to the incident happening. Things is, I went to the police first for months in order to get some response nothing. It wasn’t until later that it dawned on me that I have renter insurance!!!! Believe it or not.. That’s how upset I was I was so upset. I lived alone here in Anderson and I was devastated and no one did what they are supposed to do in or with authority to make the situation right. It was a joke. Yes, that’s right they got your money and now oh well “see ya, sorry bout that” attitude. We just collect a check we really don’t get involved. That’s what really happened.

    Putting it middy I was devastated finically, I was robbed!! I have personal items, important documents and papers, clothes, valuable memorabilia and they have done absolutely nothing to “Be On My Side” but everything quite the opposite!!! I am here to inform you my life was turned completely upside down and no one was their for me! Not even Nationwide. Oh, I take that back, yes they were there Johnny on the spot with their attorney, saying, we aren’t going to pay you NOTHING!!! You have misrepresented this claim. I said to myself, What in the hell are they talking about? I went straight to the police here in Anderson, they didn’t want to come to my house for finger prints anywhere. The detective told me they were backed up basically I’d have to wait in line after he took a handful of information because he had another appointment he had to get to. Months down the line after nothing happened in this arena and I called the detective back here in Anderson he yelled at me on the phone not to leave messages for him he would get in touch with me when it was my turn in a manner of speaking in a not so pleasant professional tone please take note.

    What Nationwide concentrated on the most was also shirking their duties and trying to swindle out of my contract agreement I felt by denying my claim. And to top everything off their reasons have absolutely nothing to do with my situation and circumstances, Go figure…. When I called and tried to speak with them about this over the phone they simply said, “I’m not saying anything!!” I called the car insurance that I had also paid in full with Nationwide. They tell me, “its on the renters not on us” after I spoke with the person in claims with the automobile claims side.

    Bottom line, I COULD GET NO ONE TO TALK WITH ME ABOUT MY CLAIM THAT, ” WAS ON MY SIDE” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Still, One year and seven months later it sits and sits and sits…… Be warned how this company has done me and you make the decision whether or not you want to be put in my place. If you have acted and responded and reported the event to police you followed what you are supposed to do unbeknownst to me at the time, but if you do all that have documented evidence of your situation and they turn you down. They damm sure didn’t turn down my money in cash to do the job they said they were going to do. That’s also called stealing…..

    I advice you to get an alarm like I now have. This way, your not wasting the money with insurance companies in the time of crisis just making matters even worse and more difficult enough to put you on medication when you pay a company to do a job and you trust the insurance company to do what they promised and the only thing you get for your money and contract is for them to, not speak call their attorney and watch you drown…….

    THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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