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Bristol West Auto Insurance Review

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UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018

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Bristol West Insurance
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With a history several decades long, Florida-born Bristol West Insurance has come to focus exclusively on personal auto insurance.

Bristol West Summary

Bristol West Insurance was founded in Florida in 1973, offering personal auto insurance. The company grew, expanding across the United States, and was acquired by the Farmers Insurance Group in 2007, joining one of the biggest groups in the nation.

Bristol West has never expanded their product lineup, just their operating territory. Products are sold only through agents and brokers, and the company offers low down payment options as well as a selection of policy options from liability only through full coverage.

The company has offices in various locations, with main offices in their home state of Florida, and in Ohio.

Insurance Products

Bristol West policies are marketed and sold by Farmers Agents including, in some states, those appointed under the Foremost Insurance Group, a subsidiary of the Farmers Exchange. Offerings can differ from state to state in terms of coverage options and discounts. A variety of companies under the Bristol West banner underwrite the policies but, again, this differs from state to state.

An overview of the policies across covered states shows that the company’s auto policies are quite basic. Liability, comprehensive, and collision along with a few other common coverage options are universally available, while other options may vary.

Optional coverage’s include:

Some states also have loan/lease (gap) coverage and additional equipment coverage available. Limited Mexico coverage is available for California.

With a separate page dedicated to each state’s auto insurance program, the website makes it easy to check your state’s specific information. However, the differences across states makes it very difficult to create a comprehensive overview of Bristol West’s auto insurance program.

Bristol West Insurance Rates

Bristol West does not offer online quoting, and all policies are quoted and sold through agents. As a result, it is difficult to do a quick price comparison.

Farmers agents will often run rate quotes through all their subsidiary underwriting departments in order to get a customer a lower rate. What this means is sometimes you may walk into a Farmers Insurance office, but walk out with a Bristol West policy because it was a lower price.

Bristol West does not directly advertise as a low-cost insurance company, but does state that they offer low down payment options as well as several different payment options to make insurance more affordable. There is little evidence, however, to suggest that Bristol West is going to offer rates competitive with major low-cost insurers like Geico. They are agent-driven for sales, which is usually a sign of higher rates thanks to agent commissions.

Discounts vary across the states, so it’s difficult to say how much impact there is on rates. Without the benefit of major bundling discounts, Bristol West is unlikely to be seriously competitive in terms of cost. Farmers does do multi-policy discounts with Foremost policies, but there is no information on whether this is available with Bristol West.

Claims

Bristol West has two options for claims filing. Customers can call a 24-hour toll free line: 1-800-274-7865 to report a claim, or they can file the claim online. Customers can also log in online in order to check on the status of a claim.

Aside from claims filing information, there is very little on the Bristol West website that offers information in terms of how claims are handled or what kind of time frame customer should expect in terms of when a claim will be settled. The site states that they aim to settle claims quickly, but there is no further detail.

Overall, the claims information on the website is somewhat lacking, which is a major oversight in a time when most insurance shoppers want to be able to thoroughly investigate an insurance company online.

Consumer Research and Complaints

Finding Bristol West on the BBB is a bit of a challenge, as several offices come up. The only office with a rating was the Indianapolis location, giving the company and A+ rating. There is only one complaint in the last three years listed, and it has been closed within the last 12 months.

While one complaint is very low in terms of a national company, the confusion involved in finding the correct place to lodge a complaint against the company leaves questions as to how many complaints did not land in the correct place.

Bristol West has a good number of complaints on several consumer websites, enough to raise a little concern, even in an industry where complaints are relatively common. There are 68 complaints on PissedConsumer, mainly focusing on the company’s website and billing practices. Similar complaints appear on Consumer Affairs, where there are 71 one-star ratings out of 77 total ratings.

Considering that larger companies have had fewer complaints listed on both of these sites, the numbers are of concern, as well as the content of the complaints, which address similar issues repeatedly.

Overall, there is little in the reviews of the company to put it in a positive light, and enough negative to raise red flags.

Financial Strength

Rating Company Grade Financial Outlook
AM Best A Stable
Fitch N/A N/A
S&P N/A N/A

Bottom Line

Bristol West flies under the Farmers Insurance banner, and is often quoted for customers by Farmer’s agents. They use a different underwriting process than their parent company, so they are often better priced for certain classes of drivers. They are serviced by the same claims department as Farmers, but the number of complaints raises a few flags. However, if the price is right, Bristol West is an alright choice for many drivers.

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

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Review Information

Summary
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Bristol West
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About Eric Stauffer

Author: Eric StaufferI am a former insurance agent and banker 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.

16 Comments

  1. When my brother passed away, he had an account with Bristol West., and they needed to reimburse him for part of the final monthly payment in the amount of $100.

    On the good side, they were fast with sending a check.

    On the bad side, they made it out to “The Estate of ### ****”.

    This is problematic since he left no one with Power of Attorney or anything similar, so no “estate account” could be set up.

    All other payments–social security, bank, housing–could write check in the name of the funeral home that managed his funeral.

    Bristol West refuses to do so.

    Reply
  2. So this company ended up canceling my policy due to their own shortcomings.

    My 6 mo policy was up for renewal. There was no communication from them at all. No mail, or email, nothing.

    Then they tried to take over $1200 out of my bank account. We didn’t know this was going to happen.

    Well, the funds got rejected and I called explaining what happened. I paid for the policy and thought everything was ok.

    Then I got a cancellation notice in the mail with refund checks for what I just paid (minus an NSF fee of course).

    There were two weeks of non-coverage because of their poor customer service. Will not use them EVER again!

    Reply
  3. Bristol West is the worst insurance company there is when it comes to making a claim!

    they will drag out the whole process as long as they can until you will accept anything; just to get it over with.

    these people are unscrupulous lib/tards .they would sell their mother to Satan for a nickel. so when you hear the name Bristol west run the other way as fast as you can.

    Reply
  4. We are having the same experience. This insurance company is not recommended. Not ever in my worst nightmare could I imagine Farmers Insurance (parent company) treating customers like this. STAY AWAY FROM THEM.

    Reply
  5. Bristol West insurance gave me a great rate and have stayed consistently low on its prices! I have been very happy that I can talk to my local farmers agent with any changes I need to make to my policy. He meets with me every 6 months and goes over my policy with me. Overall I rate them A+ on service and rates!

    Reply
  6. I am very upset with this company they over calculated my mother’s policy by $400.00. She passed away suddenly in 2017 and I received a refund check on August 18 of 2018. Since we didn’t have time to secure a power of attorney due to her sudden passing, the company refuses to reissue a check to our family. So they basically took $400 from my mom and our keeping it…

    Reply
  7. This company Bristol West and Foremost auto is a joke, when I started I was quoted a price and down payment, they debited my card $400, instead of $120, then said my payments would be $64 mth they were never under $100, so after a few months I called and cancelled, but they still took out my payment anyway.. do you think I get a refund? Heck no.. so what do I do now?

    Reply
  8. I have NEVER dealt with a more difficult company. It is obviously set up to screw anybody and everybody. Everything from underhanded cost increases to looping you so you CAN Not talk to a person, to not answering the phone and never recalling when one has left multiple voice messages, to having a fax machine which never allows you to fax through to them. Everything is set up to keep them untouchable. I did not choose them (default from 21st insurance) and am telling everyone PLEASE stay away from this so called company. The internet is full of similar stories, it amazes me they can still exist.

    Reply
  9. Stay away from this company. My bad experiences with them date back to 2002 and 2003. The fact they are still in business is proof-positive that both the regulators and the entire Insurance industry are highly corrupt.

    The other reviews that say “worst company ever” are not exaggerating. To summarize and keep this short, their standard operating procedure is to act in bad faith on every single claim that comes across their way!

    Awful people at an awful organization.

    Reply
  10. Worst company ever. I cannot get in touch with anybody. Total loop answering service, I will be switching insurance companies. Thanks for nothing 21st century, you turned me over to them I had a clean record. What’s up with that? I will be telling all of my associates not use you.

    Reply
  11. I have no claims, no tickets, but they increased my six month insurance from the original quote by $129 without any warning. They tell me I will have to pay $10 fee if I am late paying the difference. If this is the insurance service that I have I do not want it, how do I cancel it? I have called the numbers listed on the policy and I get a computer that keeps recycling the call, I cannot get agent to find out why the increase. I have never had any problems with my previous AIG car insurance until they switch me to Bristol West, if you are a driver and want insurance stay awy from Foremost County Mutual Insurance and farmers Insurance Group.

    Reply
  12. I did NOT authorize an increase payment on my insurance. had NO notifications of this. Very upset. Will be looking into other insurances in the future.

    Reply
  13. Impossible to talk to an actual agent. Called local agent: Agents are only able to see certain areas – I live 2 blocks away but cannot use this agent. Was given national number & called: recording gives Independence, OH, # 888-395-2524. Called X3 recording loops constantly giving the same # 888-395-2524!!! I finally screamed “operator”( which was not an option) and a clerk (she told me she wasn’t an agent) wanted all my info & only then why I was calling. When I said policy changes, I was told I had to send written request & only then would changes be made. When I asked for $ difference, she gave an amount only for that exact question, I had to pry info from her & was nearly kill crazy when I asked for a number for a live person – she was allowed ONLY to give the national #. Looking for a non-Farmers group now.

    Reply
  14. I would like to file a claim. I called Sat. when it happened. They told me to wait till today.
    Please advise as to what to do next. Thank you, Nancy Policy [redacted]

    Reply
  15. The automation system takes forever just to get to a person who makes you repeat everything again.

    Reply

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