UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018
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About Direct General
Direct General Group is the parent company of Direct Insurance Company, which was founded in 1991 in Nashville, Tennessee. The company expanded throughout the southeastern states, focusing on providing non-standard insurance for drivers who are considered high-risk due to driving history, credit history, or other issues.
Direct also writes term life insurance and provides travel auto insurance in Mexico, along with a few other services. They sell products online and through local storefront offices.
Direct General Products
Direct General’s main product is auto insurance for high-risk drivers, but they also offer motorcycle and life insurance as well as a few other related products.
Direct General’s auto insurance program is aimed at high-risk drivers such as those with multiple tickets and accidents, drivers requiring an SR-22, and drivers with poor credit. Their program is comprehensive and includes many options seen at larger companies, unlike some other non-standard insurance companies that offer only the basics.
Insurance policies can be purchased as basic, liability-only to meet state legal requirements, or as full coverage policies that include comprehensive coverage and collision coverage to pay for damage to the driver’s vehicle in both not-at-fault accidents and for theft, vandalism, and other damage.
Additional options include rental reimbursement, towing and labor, and accidental death coverage.
There is a good list of discounts offered by General Direct, including military, senior, homeowner, multi-policy, and a good student discount. They also offer an affinity discount for customers who are members of affiliated groups, although there is not a list of these groups available online.
Direct General’s auto insurance program offers a flexible payment system that allows customers to select how and when they want to pay for their insurance.
Like the auto insurance program, Direct General offers liability coverage and full coverage policies for motorcycles. Their policies include all of the expected coverage choices as well as optional coverage for custom parts and the choice to add replacement cost coverage.
Direct General offers very basic, simplified term life insurance policies. Term lengths are six or twelve months, with a maximum death benefit of $15,000.
The company offers guaranteed renewal at the same rate for two years, and policies can be renewed on an ongoing basis. There is no medical exam for these plans, and Direct General offers the option to purchase with no additional down payment to customers who purchase life insurance along with auto insurance.
Direct General also offers a standalone Roadside Assistance program and car insurance for coverage in Mexico. They also write Commercial Auto.
Additionally, they offer Prepaid Mastercard services, which goes along with their target market of drivers who may have credit issues.
The website offers a basic chart showing life insurance costs. $10,000 worth of coverage on a 12-month term for an insured aged 18-50 has a listed cost of $118 per year or $9.83 per month. We have seen simplified life with ten times the coverage for a longer term for not much more than this, so while this seems very affordable, more coverage can be had elsewhere in a similar price range.
Direct General does not write insurance in California, where we run our sample rate tests for comparison. This means we are unable to compare their rates to other companies we have sampled. They do have an online quoting system, which is somewhat unusual for a non-standard insurance company. The system appears easy to use and straightforward.
Because this is a non-standard insurer writing for higher risk drivers, we would not expect the rate to be comparable to standard insurance companies. The rates to insure a high-risk driver are always higher than standard.
Direct General does not currently offer online claims reporting, although the website states this service will be available in the future. At the time of this review, a toll-free claims line is the only option for reporting a new claim. The service, at 1-877-GO-DIRECT, is not available 24 hours, but only open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
The absence of an after hours or emergency line for claims is surprising and unusual, even for a small regional insurer.
The claims process is broken down very clearly on the website. An adjuster will be assigned to investigate and survey the damage, and repairs begin upon approval.
There is a Direct Repair network of preferred repair shops, but customers can select their own repair shop if they prefer.
Ratings and Consumer Reviews
Direct General has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). There have been 160 complaints filed in the past three years, and 57 of those were closed in the past 12 months. That is a higher complaint volume than we like to see for a company of this size.
Review site My Three Cents has 15 reviews of this company with a 1.5-star rating overall. The complaints tend to focus on poor customer service and difficulty contacting people, as well as claims issues.
Complaints Board has a long list of complaints from customers and even more than one from former employees. These complaints include claims issues and customers stating they had options added to their policy and billed without their knowledge.
It is not usual for a non-standard insurance company to see a lot of complaints, but the complaint volume and the repeated comments about poor service, along with the input from former employees, does raise red flags.
The Bottom Line
Direct General is only likely to be considered as an option for non-standard insurance, and even then there may be better options. The complaints against this company are concerning in both volume and content, and while they appear to offer a good auto insurance program, they do not seem to back it up when it comes to claims and customer service.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.