UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018
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Once a Massachusetts-only insurer, the last few decades saw Commerce grow by leaps and bounds. Since the acquisition and name change in MAPFRE, USA in 2008, the company has added new product offerings and completed the changeover to being a full member of MAPFRE’s international group. They promise the personal service of a smaller insurance company with the financial strength of MAPFRE, and write all of the basics of personal and business insurance.
MAPFRE USA Overview
MAPFRE started out as Commerce Insurance, which was founded in 1972 in Webster, Massachusetts, and still has its headquarters there today. The company became the largest provider of auto insurance in the state, and began to expand in the 90s starting with the purchase of Western Pioneer Insurance Company, which was renamed Commerce West, in California in 1995.
In 1999 the company made a big move, acquiring the Automobile Club Insurance Company out of Columbus, Ohio in a joint venture with AAA, expanding its coverage to a further 11 states. The company was rebranded into the Commerce family is American Commerce Insurance Company.
Commerce expanded into New Hampshire in 2001 and then into New York in 2007 with the purchase of SWICO Enterprises, which is the holding company for State-Wide Insurance Company. This acquisition put Commerce in the New York auto insurance market.
In 2008, Commerce Insurance Group became part of Spain-based international insurance company MAPFRE. The acquisition made Commerce part of one of the biggest insurance giants on the planet, and brought all of their companies under the name of MAPFRE USA Corp. The changeover to MAPFRE is complete and all of the Commerce branding and use of the name have been discontinued in favor of MAPFRE.
MAPFRE is the largest insurance company in Latin America, ranks among the top ten in Europe, and offers coverage in 43 countries. MAPFRE USA is backed by a very strong financial base, placing it up there with the other huge insurance companies in the U.S.
Since its founding, MAPFRE has been committed to selling insurance products through independent agents, and that continues to be true today. Part of their company history states that the company was founded with the purpose of offering agents competitive products through an insurer offering solid service to back them. MAPFRE is part of a chain of more than 50,000 agents around the world, and they have a presence in 19 states where their products are sold through local agents. In some states, products are offered through subsidiary companies that are part of the group. The company’s main presence remains in the New England area where it was born.
Although policies are sold through agents only, the website does offer online quoting for auto insurance, which is sold across the coverage area. Life insurance quotes can also be obtained online. The company has a full range of products, but not all products can be purchased in every state in which they are admitted.
MAPFRE USA Products
MAPFRE writes the three basics of personal insurance (auto, home, and life) as well as business insurance and a selection of specialty products. Auto is offered in all 19 states MAPFRE covers, while other product availability varies.
MAPFRE offers a comprehensive auto insurance program with a variety of “Value Programs” that provide extra benefits.
MAPFRE’s auto program is comparable to other large insurance companies. They offer all of the required coverage in each state along with the most common options such as collision, comprehensive, towing and labor, and alternate transportation coverage.
They also offer a few of the more common add-ons in the insurance industry, such as disappearing deductible and accident forgiveness. MAPFRE advertises their accident forgiveness program as being different from the usual because more drivers qualify for it than with other insurance companies. New drivers as well as those who don’t meet a specific requirement for number of years accident-free, can purchase accident forgiveness, and the merit rating range is wider for acceptance into the program.
The AutoMaster Package is an endorsement offered in some states that adds a selection of extra coverage, including coverage for cell phones and laptop computers and loss of earnings coverage.
Thanks to MAPFRE’s association with AAA, special discounts are available to auto club members. Previously listed as a 10% discount, the new MAPFRE website no longer lists the discount amount. Other discounts include auto/home, an educator discount, good student, green vehicle, and many other common auto discounts.
MAPFRE does not appear to have a true usage-based insurance program, but does offer its DriveAdvisor program, which uses the same telemetrics used by other companies to provide parents of new drivers with feedback and information on driving habits. Unlike most such programs, there’s no premium adjustment for the feedback, instead it’s simply used to help parents keep an eye on and improve teen driving habits. DriveAdvisor feedback can be viewed online, making it easy for parents to keep tabs on what their young driver is up to.
MAPFRE also offers the TeenSMART driver education program. This system combines computer based driver education with a series of in-car practice exercises to help teens become safer drivers.
MAPFRE offers home insurance for single-family homes, condos, and also for renters. Their home products include specific endorsements for different types of homes, including restorationist endorsements for antique homes and choices for high-value homes.
The standard policy covers the home itself, personal property, and liability coverage.
Basic endorsements offered on all home policies include:
- Water back-up and sewage overflow coverage
- Incidental business activities of minors protection
- Increased limits on specific personal property such as money, jewelry, watercraft, firearms, and more
MAPFRE’s Restorationist plan for antique homes includes coverage like Guaranteed Restoration Cost to preserve historic homes. This ensures that in the event of damage to an antique home, the policy will pay to restore the home to historical condition and not just to the stated replacement value.
The Premier Living program is for high-value homes and includes replacement cost coverage as well as higher limits on a variety of personal property categories such as money, jewelry, and art collections. Personal property is covered for all risks.
MAPFRE has a selection of extra benefits available home insurance customers. Among these is the IT Help Desk, which can be contacted at any time for assistance with a variety of electronic devices from computers to cell phones.
The Home System protection program offers repair coverage and assistance for critical equipment in the home from air conditioning units to central vacuums. The company also has a Home Repair program that uses a network of trusted professionals to handle home repairs quickly and with results that are covered by a guarantee. Identity Theft coverage is also available as an add-on coverage.
Also available from MAPFRE are condominium owner’s policies and renter’s insurance to meet the specific needs of condo owners and tenants. These policies focus more on personal property and liability, and each has specifics for the type of risks specific to owning a condo or renting a home.
MAPFRE writes personal umbrella policies to provide additional liability coverage above and beyond the limits of underlying auto and home policies. These policies protect against lawsuits and major negligence claims that could exceed the limits of auto or home insurance liability.
Life insurance is offered across the coverage area. MAPFRE writes simple term life insurance that is available in term lengths from 10 to 30 years. There are flexible premiums payment options: monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, and annually. Benefit amounts range from $25,000 up to $200,000.
MAPFRE offers no medical exam coverage to get life insurance easily and quickly. The application process is paperless and customers can obtain a decision on their application within a few minutes, making it a good choice for anyone who has basic life insurance needs and wants a policy quickly. Online quoting is simple and straightforward.
MAPFRE has two basic types of business insurance programs available: Commercial Auto and BusinessOwners.
The Commercial Auto program is offered for a good range of business types including contractors, service and retail trucks, plows, and dump trucks. The coverage applies to an unlimited number of vehicles with combined single limits of up to $1 million. Higher limits can be made available when required by law. Garage policies are available in Massachusetts.
Optional endorsements on the commercial auto program include the Enhancer Plus endorsement for extra coverage, errors & omissions insurance, and coverage for transport of customer vehicles.
The Businessowners policy is a package program that puts together the basic needed coverage for most businesses and allows for personalization to meet the needs of specific industries. Coverage includes liability, business property protection, and business income protection.
This program is available for a wide variety of business types, including restaurants, offices, retail businesses, and contractors. Contractors in particular are offered a range of endorsements to meet all of their coverage requirements.
Commercial Umbrella insurance policies are also available to provide additional liability coverage on top of policies for a variety of different types of business.
Recreational and Specialty Vehicle
MAPFRE offers coverage for several types of recreational vehicles such as watercraft, ATVs, trailers, and snowmobiles. The company also writes motorcycle insurance.
These plans are listed on the site without much in the way of details or information, and may be offered by a subsidiary or in limited locations.
Prices and Premiums
MAPFRE appears to offer online quotes for two products: life and auto.
We attempted to use the auto-quoting system, but on the second page were directed to obtain a quote through an agent. This may be due to the specific location we use for our sample rates, or it may be their standard quoting procedure. It did appear to be standard procedure, which is somewhat deceptive for the website visitor as it gives the appearance of online quoting when the service isn’t actually offered. Either way, we were unable to obtain a rate quote for comparison.
The life insurance quoting system is very simple in comparison and returned a quote in one step with a small amount of information. For a 30-year-old male in California with no tobacco use and in very good health, we were given a quote for $100,000 of 20-year term insurance of $27.15 per month. Ten-year term coverage came back only slightly cheaper, at $25.10 per month. For this type of simplified term coverage, this is not the lowest rate we have seen, and we would generally expect to see the ten-year term coverage at a considerably lower rate.
Although we were unable to get an auto quote, we would expect that as an agent-driven insurance company, MAPFRE is likely to be higher in price due to commissions.
Prices are likely to be better for AAA members thanks to special discounts, and for those who bundle auto and home together to obtain additional discounts. MAPFRE does not advertise themselves as a low-cost insurance company, relying on the promise of great service and good products to be a part of the value picture.
Since the changeover to MAPFRE insurance, the claims options have changed.
Online claims reporting is the fastest and easiest of the options and is available for auto, auto glass, and property insurance claims.
The other two options for claims reporting are through your agent or by contacting MAPFRE directly, although – unusually – the auto claims page doesn’t actually provide the contact phone number for the claims department. We also checked the “Contact Us” page, but still no overall toll-free claims number can be found.
That’s not the case on the homeowner claims page, where the toll-free number is readily listed. The property claims department can be reached at 877-224-5677.
The process starts with reporting of the claim, after which the damage will be appraised by an adjuster. MAPFRE allows the use of their ePics system to upload photos of damage in order to skip the step of having an adjuster look at the damage directly.
The Car EZ program is MAPFRE’s preferred repair network system. Repair shop choice is always with the customer, but with the Car EZ program, repairs are guaranteed and there are added benefits such as:
- Vehicle pickup if needed
- Arranging for a rental car
- Vehicle cleaning after repairs are complete
- Direct payment
- Priority scheduling with the repair shop
The MAPFRE website only lists Car EZ priority shops in Massachusetts, which gives the impression this program is only offered in that state.
MAPFRE also has a quick-repair option for glass only claims to get glass repaired or replaced quickly.
For a company like MAPFRE USA that relies on the personal service of agents and promises of good customer care to make up for higher overall cost of insurance, claims service is the main area where the promises need to be made good.
The 2017 J.D. Power U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Survey shows MAPFRE has a long way to go to live up to that promise. For overall satisfaction, MAPFRE USA ranked at a dismal two out of five rating, the lowest the rating system allows for. The only area where the company ranked a bit higher, at three out of five, was for the repair process – and that ranking still puts them as average.
Not surprisingly, there are a lot of complaints centering on claims service for this company. We’ll take a look at these customer reviews in the next section.
MAPFRE’s low rankings in claims satisfaction are born out by their overall ratings from the same rating service.
The 2017 Auto Insurance Survey ranks MAPFRE in the New England area where they are most active. Again, they earn a two out of five ranking overall. Surprisingly, one of the two areas where they managed three out of five stars is Claims, with the other being Interaction. Those two average rankings don’t help MAPFRE much, leaving them second to last on the list of the insurance companies that were included.
This continues a history of low rankings for the company from J.D. Power, which has previously ranked them the lowest of all of the major insurers in the New England area. The top insurer, Amica Mutual, earned five out of five across the board.
The Better Business Bureau gives MAPFRE a much better rating, with an A+ rating overall. There have been a total of 58 complaints in the past three years, down slightly from 61 the last time we reviewed Commerce Insurance during the changeover to MAPFRE. Of the complaints on file, 21 were closed in the past 12 months. This is a lower number of complaints than we would expect given the dismal J.D. Power rankings.
There are a number of Yelp reviews for MAPFRE, with 70 star ratings adding up to a one and a half star rating overall. Most of the complaints are in regards to claims issues. MAPFRE representatives do appear to respond readily to customer complaints in this forum, which is always encouraging to see.
The recent name change adds some challenge to creating a clear picture of the company’s reputation. In several locations, the reviews still reflect the Commerce name.
This is true of consumer website Pissed Consumer, where the Commerce name is still in use. On this site, there are a total of 63 reviews, which is up from 40 reviews the last time we researched Commerce. The majority of the reviews are negative, not surprising for this website. There are a few positive reviews.
Reviews elsewhere, such as on Viewpoints (which has updated its reviews to reflect the MAPFRE name), are also mixed, with some very negative and some glowing, leading to an overall unclear feeling in regards to the company’s reputation.
While J.D. Power’s ratings of this company are dismally low, the number of complaints and their content doesn’t lend itself to major red flags. There are a lot of complaints regarding claims and poor customer service, however, so MAPFRE definitely has work to do to improve its overall image.
MAPFRE is a huge name internationally, but not as well known in the U.S. Their large market share is the result of having absorbed Commerce Insurance, which is most heavily placed in New England.
Without auto rates to allow direct comparison, it is difficult to provide an apples to apples comparison between this company and other major insurers in their service area. Their life insurance rates are on the high side, so we would anticipate that to be the case with auto as well.
MAPFRE still needs some time to cement its reputation in the U.S., but the poor rankings coming out of Commerce’s history certainly aren’t helping. Currently, it is difficult to recommend MAPFRE to drivers in New England or anywhere else in their coverage area.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.