PEMCO Insurance Summary
Founded and incorporated in 1949 by Robert J. Handy to insure teacher members of the School Employees Credit Union of Washington, PEMCO (an acronym for Public Employees Mutual Insurance Company) now has 650 employees serving customers in Washington and Oregon. The company is headquartered in Seattle. Following his father’s 28 years as leader, Stanley W. McNaughton has served as president and CEO since 1998.
PEMCO claims to be the Northwest’s largest personal lines insurer. It once held a life insurance subsidiary, still known as PEMCO Life Insurance, but it was sold in 2012 to Sagicor.
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PEMCO covers primarily low-risk customers in Washington and Oregon. It provides coverage in three main areas:
- Auto Insurance—PEMCO offers a standard policy with options for rental reimbursement and accidental death, as well as an endorsement for auto loans on vehicles newer than three years old.
- Home Insurance—The company also offers a fairly standard homeowner, renter, and condo owner policy which can be packaged with auto insurance for a discount—up to 25% on home and 9% on auto. Umbrella insurance up to $2 million is also available. A variety of other discounts are available based on occupation and type of building construction. Older and high-value homes are not typically covered.
- Boat Insurance—PEMCO will cover small to moderately large boats. Towing coverage comes under the auto policy. Boats used in competitions are not allowed. Coverage extends up to 75 miles offshore along the continental United States and most of Canada with somewhat tighter limitations for the Queen Charlotte Islands.
Through its separate PEMCO Insurance Agency, the company will find more high-risk policies for motorcycles, older homes, high-value homes, specialty boats and watercraft, etc., underwritten by other insurance companies, but the heart of its coverage is for more standardized auto, home, and boat needs.
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PEMCO concentrates on serving “preferred risk” customers, so rates for individuals with low credit scores, tickets or recent accidents are likely to be higher than many competitors.
Coverage is primarily marketed through PEMCO’s own sales offices and through independent agents, but their website does offer online quotations. However, the online process requires providing a Social Security number which typically means your credit score is used as part of the criteria for determining your insurance premium.
Since PEMCO uses a tiered rate schedule, customers who have claims may experience an increase in their insurance rates in the event of an accident or substantial damage claim. This may make PEMCO unattractive for long-term customers after an accident.
PEMCO can only handle claims over the phone at 800-467-3626 or through its appointed agents. The company prefers auto glass customers to choose a shop certified by the National Glass Association and waives the deductible on chip repair.
PEMCO Insurance is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau, but it does maintain an A+ rating. In the last three years the company has had only three complaints—two were closed in the last 12 months. Two complaints concerned problems with product/service issues and one complaint was filed on a billing/collection issue.
In its 2013 Auto Insurance Study, J.D. Power ranked PEMCO as the highest in customer satisfaction among auto insurers in the Northwest region.
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Drivers and homeowners with good records and decent credit scores may find PEMCO to be a reasonable choice for their insurance needs. They focus on low-risk clients, so as long as you fit into that category, you should be good. But that also means that a long-term client may find their rates increasing dramatically after a claim because they would no longer qualify as a top-tier customer.
Individuals and families with claim history or low credit scores would probably be better suited going with a different carrier. PEMCO is known for having higher rates for high-risk individuals, so if price is an issue you should look elsewhere.
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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.