UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018
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About Austin Mutual
Originally founded as State Farmers Mutual Hail Association in 1896, a move of the company headquarters from Mankato, MN to Austin, MN in 1909 inspired the name change to Austin Mutual Insurance Company. The company no longer operates in the city of Austin, having moved to Minneapolis in 1930 and finally to Maple Grove, MN where the head office remains today.
In 2012, Austin Mutual became a part of Main Street Insurance Group, and they no longer operate an independent website. This makes it difficult to determine which of the products offered by the group of insurance companies under the Main Street name are actually offered by Austin Mutual. Nowhere on the website does it indicate which policies are issued by which of the eight companies in the group, simply describing Austin Mutual as writing “commercial and personal insurance”.
This makes reviewing the company’s products somewhat difficult, but we will provide an overview of the products Austin Mutual was writing at the time of our last review when the company still operated an independent website.
Austin Mutual Products
Prior to the merger of the websites, Austin Mutual offered personal auto, home insurance, commercial policies, and agribusiness coverage.
The Main Street website offers a basic overview of the auto policies offered by their underwriting companies, one of which is Austin Mutual. In addition to all of the required state minimum coverages, the policy offers all of the common options and some of the trendy choices as well.
Listed are new vehicle replacement, accident forgiveness, diminishing deductible, and OEM parts replacement; these are often add-on enhancements from most insurance companies, but the website is not clear as to whether or not that is the case here. They do appear to be add-on coverage options that likely have an additional premium.
Also featured is the Auto Elite program, which has three levels of enhanced coverage. All three levels include transportation expense, personal property, roadside assistance, and accidental airbag deployment. The other enhanced coverages include things like loan/lease gap coverage, trip interruption, and diminishing deductible – but what the three levels are and which of these is included is not explained.
Again, home insurance policy information is combined on one page on the Main Street website, with no clear indication of how coverage might differ depending on the underwriting company.
Home insurance policies provide all of the basics of coverage including structures, personal property, and liability, with several add-on enhancements offered. Like the auto program, there is a Home Elite package enhancement offered at three levels. All three levels include replacement cost coverage, but the benefits differ from there.
Additional endorsements include home systems coverage, cyber protection, and identity theft.
The Main Street website lists a wide variety of commercial products. At the time of our last review, Austin Mutual offered business package policies, business auto, and business umbrella policies for small to medium companies. It seems likely that they continue to underwrite this type of coverage under the Main Street banner, but again the combined website makes it hard to tell.
Austin Mutual has long been active in the agribusiness market, and we so no reason to believe this would have changed since our last review. Main Street’s website states that they offer a solid range of commercial agribusiness policies, and although they do not name any of their companies specifically, Austin Mutual has a long history in that industry.
Rates are not available for Austin Mutual, and all quotes are done by local independent agents. When requesting a quote from a Main Street agent, it is likely the underwriting company could be any of the group’s brands unless a quote from Austin Mutual is requested specifically.
Without rates, it is very difficult to compare Austin Mutual to its competitors, but in general, we expect small companies like this one to come in a little higher on premiums and make up for the added cost with customer service and personal attention.
Any Main Street America customer can report claims either online or over the phone, and that includes Austin Mutual customers. Claims are handled by one central claims reporting line for the entire group, which is available 24/7. Claims can also be reported through your agent.
The website does not specify whether Main Street handles claims processing for its member companies or whether they all handle their own claims independently, but reporting does appear to be centralized.
Main Street also has a group-wide preferred repair network for auto repair claims, called Shop of Choice. There is little-detailed information either about this program or about the claims process in general.
Ratings and Consumer Reviews
Austin Mutual does not have any rating on its own Better Business Bureau (BBB) page, which states complaints against the business are handled by another BBB. That is likely the BBB page for Main Street America Group, which shows an A+ rating. The group has eight complaints on file and 12 reviews. This is quite a low complaint volume, especially if that covers all eight underlying companies.
Austin Mutual does have its own Yelp page, where there are only two reviews, both of which are one-star. One complaint is in regards to a claim, and the other to a non-renewal by the company.
The eight Google reviews are mixed, with an overall 2.3-star rating. Rate hikes and customer service problems are the main complaints in these reviews.
Overall, there is a pretty low complaint volume for this company and no red flags within the reviews.
The Bottom Line
Austin Mutual’s merger of their website with that of Main Street America Group makes it hard to extricate information specific to that company, which in turn makes it hard to get a good picture of what they offer. They are the type of company that relies on agents to bring in new business, which explains the lack of detail on the site. If you prefer to work with an independent agent and like a smaller, regional company, Austin Mutual may be worth exploring with your agent’s assistance.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.