UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018
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Ameriprise began as Investors Syndicate in 1894; the Minneapolis company was started with 1000 investors each putting in $5. After surviving the Great Depression, the company went on to hit the $100 million in assets mark in 1937. Three years later the company entered the mutual fund market, and they continued to diversify their investment options over the following decade. In 1949 the first name change – to Investors Diversified Services (IDS) took place.
In 1957, Investors Syndicate Life Insurance and Annuity Company was formed, bringing the company into the insurance market for the first time. The company name was later changed to IDS Life, matching the main name.
In 1984, as IDS celebrated 100 years in business, the company was acquired by American Express Corporation in a $780 million deal; they would hit $100 billion in assets ten years later.
Another name change took place in 1995, to American Express Financial Advisors (AEFA). It was not until 2005 that the company went public, and did so under another new name, Ameriprise Financial. Multiple acquisitions, including of H&R Block Financial Advisors, took place in the 2000s, culminating in the 2010 acquisition of Columbia Management, which put Ameriprise in the top ten largest mutual fund managers nationwide.
The 2018 Fortune 500 list ranked Ameriprise at number 259. Their headquarters remains in Minneapolis, but products are sold across the country through local financial advisors.
In addition to a wide range of investment options, Ameriprise today sells personal insurance products, including auto, home, and life insurance along with selections like disability and long-term care. They partner with Costco to offer special benefits and discounts on home and auto insurance to members. Executive Costco members get even more benefits through the program.
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Ameriprise today remains primarily a financial service and investment company, but it has diversified into the personal insurance market as well. They offer the big three in personal insurance as well as a number of health insurance options. That makes them a one-stop shop for those with basic insurance needs; they also partner with other companies to help out with specialty insurance needs like boat or motorcycle coverage.
The Ameriprise auto insurance program offers all of the basics of coverage along with plenty of add-on options. In addition to liability, comprehensive coverage & collision coverage, and medical payments coverage, policies can be customized with roadside assistance, rental car coverage, gap insurance, new car replacement, and more.
Auto policies also include a lot of benefits as standard coverage that are considered as add-ons elsewhere. Every policy includes, at no extra charge:
- Accident forgiveness, for drivers who have been with the company for at least three years without an accident
- Stolen key replacement
- Accident travel expense coverage
- Windshield glass repair deductible waiver
There are a lot of discounts available on auto policies, including most of the common ones. A few are less common – in addition to the usual good student discount, Ameriprise also offers an education discount for those who successfully complete at least four years of post-secondary education. As previously mentioned, Costco members get an additional discount.
Ameriprise offers the usual full pay and monthly installment plans, but the monthly option offers what they call Payment Holiday. This breaks the installments on your six-month policy term into five monthly payments and gives you the sixth month without a payment owed. It is a bit gimmicky, but it might be nice if that sixth month happens to fall in December when holiday spending stretches many budgets. Bear in mind that you will still be paying the same amount in total, so it does not actually save you anything.
Ameriprise’s home insurance program includes standard homeowners, condos, and renters insurance as well.
Like the auto program, the home insurance package policy covers all of the usual bases – dwelling, other structures, liability, and personal property. There are also a variety of endorsements that can be added to the policy for additional coverage, including high-value personal property riders and water & sewer backup.
Again, like the auto program, Ameriprise includes some benefits with every policy that would generally be considered add-ons at other companies. Homeowner’s insurance policies include, at no extra charge:
- Food spoilage coverage to pay for food that goes bad as the result of a power outage, with no deductible applied
- Identity theft recovery
- Credit card and check fraud protection
- Lock replacement expense
Several homeowner’s discounts are available, including discounts for having an existing relationship with an Ameriprise Financial Advisor. There is also a discount for Costco members and a list of the usual common discounts including safety features and age of home discounts.
The Payment Holiday program is also available for homeowner’s insurance programs, although in this case, it is a 12-month policy, which means the payments are split into 11 installments with one month off.
All of the same benefits are also offered on the renter’s insurance program, which is nice to see since renters do not often get the same treatment as homeowners from an insurance company.
Life insurance products are offered either directly through Ameriprise’s RiverSource plans, or through other partner companies depending on your needs.
RiverSource is an Ameriprise brand name under which they offer a range of life insurance products; to look at those products we were taken to that company’s own website.
Term life is offered with 10, 15, 20, and 30-year term options. The site does not offer any information on issue age, nor do they list minimum or maximum death benefit amounts. The policies are convertible to permanent insurance.
Universal Life is offered in four different formats:
- Foundations Protector is a standard universal life policy that offers guaranteed death benefits with a cash accumulation account and a no-lapse guarantee.
- Foundations Universal Life has a guaranteed death benefit along with a cash account that offers a fixed rate of return and a guaranteed minimum. This policy has a 15-year no-lapse guarantee.
- Succession Protector is a survivorship policy that covers two lives on one plan, paying out when the second person passes away.
- Indexed Universal life is available with a choice of several indexes to which the growth in the cash accumulation account is tied. It can also be purchased as a survivorship policy.
Variable Universal Life is also offered either as a solo policy or as a succession policy. These flexible policies have a guaranteed death benefit but also offer tax-deferred growth on the accumulation account. Income tax free access to the account is possible in the right circumstances, and growth may be tied to the equities market.
Other Personal Insurance
In addition to home and auto, Ameriprise also writes umbrella insurance policies to extend the liability above and beyond those policies. These can be paired with auto and home for a multi-policy discount.
Additional personal insurance products are offered through a partnership with other specialty insurance companies. Ameriprise does not underwrite these, nor do they handle any claims on them. They only provide what amounts to a referral, a common practice.
Ameriprise lists several types of health insurance on their website including major medical and supplemental insurance products.
While individual major medical is listed as a product, there is very little information offered, including whether Ameriprise actually underwrites these policies directly. It seems likely these are offered through affiliates, but that isn’t made clear on the site. Visitors are directed to contact an Ameriprise financial advisor for assistance with major medical.
Long-term care insurance is offered individually and as a rider on a life insurance policy. These products are again offered by RiverSource.
The same applies to disability insurance; it is also written by RiverSource. Plans include a range of options for benefit period as well as the percentage of your income that will be provided by the plan.
The annuities section once again refers us over to the RiverSource website where there are four types of annuities offered.
Variable annuities have the option of either a 7 or 10-year surrender period, with the option to add living benefits as well as a death benefit. They offer flexible, professionally managed investments that provide retirement income for the future.
Fixed index annuities offer protection from market downturns, with credited interest guaranteed not to be less than zero. The investment is tied to market indexes, so there is some opportunity for growth, and guaranteed income amounts can be arranged.
Fixed index annuities are also available, which are tied to a specific index with a guaranteed income as well.
Investments and Financial Services
The root of Ameriprise’s business, investments are still a big part of what they do today. Among the widely varied investment opportunities Ameriprise can assist with are:
- Mutual funds
- IRAs and retirement plans
- Stocks and exchanges
- College Savings plans
- Real estate
- Managed accounts
- Unit investment trusts
- Syndicate offerings
Ameriprise also offers a range of financial services including credit cards and cash services. They also have financial planning services and can set up personal trusts.
Anyone who has a financial services account can qualify for discounts on personal insurance products.
Ameriprise has online quoting available for auto insurance as well as for life insurance.
The auto quoting system is somewhat drawn out, with a lot of information required but, in the end, we were able to get a sample rate that fell on the low end of our comparison rates. In fact, we found Ameriprise’s auto rates to be well below average for our sample.
Through RiverSource, we were able to obtain rates for a term life insurance policy. We quoted a 30-year-old male, non-tobacco user, in very good health.
For a term policy with a face value of $100,000, a 10-year term will cost $13.21 a month. At 30 years, this same policy will cost $22.75 a month.
We also ran the quote at $1 million. For a 10-year term, the cost came out to $39.81 a month, and a 30-year term came to $95.81.
These are really reasonable rates, particularly for the $1 million policy.
Ameriprise is not the type of company we would expect to have online quoting available, although even the big financial services companies are finally getting on board in recent years with adding this option – we are glad to see this shift happening. Ameriprise’s term life insurance rates are very competitive, even with some of the biggest life insurance providers.
In terms of auto insurance, even without the many discounts offered by the company the rate we obtained was below average.
Auto claims where there are no injuries can be reported using the company’s online claims filing service.
In the event of a claim where there are injuries, the company should be contacted via phone toll-free at 800-872-5246. This same number can be used for all other claims as well, including auto glass, theft, roadside assistance, and all home claims.
The auto claims process is pretty standard and it is well outlined on the website – as is the home claims process. There is a network of preferred repair network available, but customers are free to use any repair service they prefer.
In spite of a fairly good search of both the Ameriprise and RiverSource sites, we were unable to find information pertaining to filing life insurance claims. This is unfortunately not uncommon, and we hope that more life insurance companies – particularly those that are also financial service companies as they most commonly fail to provide claims information – get this taken care of in the future. The last thing a bereaved person needs is to struggle with finding claims information.
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Ratings and Consumer Reviews
Ameriprise has two Better Business Bureau (BBB) pages – ones is for their financial services side and the other for Ameriprise Home & Auto.
Ameriprise Financial Services has an A+ rating, with only 38 complaints on file in the past three years. Ameriprise Home & Auto has an A+ rating, with more complaints – 202 in the past three years, 56 of those were closed in the past 12 months. It is not surprising that the home and auto side of the business has more complaints, as that type of policy lends itself more to issues with claims and billing problems. Still, overall the complaint volume is pretty low.
Consumer Affairs has 282 reviews of Ameriprise – these combine both the financial services side and the auto & home side of the business, but a quick look through the complaints shows that most of them are in regards to auto and home. The overall star rating is a little over one star, and that is based on 51 star ratings submitted in the past year, 45 of which are one star ratings. Complaints focus on denial of claims, but there are also some complaints about the handling of financial accounts here.
A company the size of Ameriprise is going to have some complaints – but given their size, the number of complaints we found isn’t high. The California Department Insurance does studies of the number of justified complaints about auto insurance companies, but Ameriprise does not appear on the list, likely because they do not have a large enough market share in that state.
The Bottom Line
Ameriprise offers a lot of products, although on the insurance side it is really the big three. They have a solid auto program, with good rates and a lot of discounts available, especially if you are a Costco member and purchase your insurance through their affiliate program, or if you already have a financial account with Ameriprise. The company is financially sound and have a very long history, and although there are some complaints, the volume is low for the company size, and there are no major red flags for this company. Ameriprise is definitely worth a look when comparing rates and policies.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.