UPDATED: Mar 18, 2020
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Esurance entered the market in 1998 when the idea of buying anything on the internet was still a novelty to most people. Branding themselves as a modern and green company, Esurance promised low car insurance rates without the middleman.
Esurance was one of the first companies to offer online quoting and also offered rates from other companies for comparison and became a competitor for other direct buy options like Progressive and Geico. In 2004 Esurance again stayed at the forefront of change when they began offering multi-car discounts to same-sex couples, and further supported LGBTQ causes including The Trevor Project.
The company’s first advertising campaign featured an animated character by the name of Erin Insurance and targeted the young male demographic. Esurance has since gone on to popularity among all age groups and dropped the animated marketing campaign in 2010.
Not long after, in 2011, Esurance was acquired by one of the biggest names in personal insurance – Allstate. While Allstate continued to sell insurance through their captive agent system, Esurance gave them access to the direct-buy market. Esurance continues to operate independently out of the headquarters in San Francisco. Auto insurance is available in 43 states – other product availability varies.
Esurance started out as an auto insurance company but now also writes home insurance. Unlike other similar companies, Esurance actually underwrites its own home insurance policies in most states. Esurance also offers some specialty policies through partnership with other companies.
Esurance was built on car insurance and they continue to write it as their main product to this day.
The CoverageMyWay system is designed to help drivers determine how much and what type of coverage they need, including liability limits, options, and deductibles. It is built into the online quoting process and makes suggestions along the way. Customers are not required to buy the suggested policy and can customize coverage directly. The system is likely to be helpful to those who are not entirely sure what they really need, particularly those new to buying car insurance.
Esurance’s list of coverage options includes all of the most common choices, including liability to meet the requirements of each state and beyond, comprehensive coverage and collision coverage, rental car, and roadside assistance. The also offer loan/lease gap coverage.
Esurance has a long list of available discounts for car insurance, with some that are common and some less so. A 5% discount is offered on the first policy term for quoting with Esurance online, and an additional 5% discount for the first two terms for switching from another insurance company.
Other discounts include paid in full, multi-car, auto/home bundling, good driver, good student, and safety device discounts. They also have a discount that is based on how you drive – Drive Sense.
Like many other insurance companies, Esurance has joined in on the usage-based car insurance trend. Their program is called DriveSense. It uses a mobile app to monitor and record driving habits and calculate a discount for the driver based on the information gathered; unlike other such programs, there is no plug-in device.
The app logs information continuously, and calculates a new discount for each policy term as long as at least 50 trips have been logged in the previous term. This differs from many programs that run for a short period of time to calculate a discount, and do not recalculate over time.
A discount of 5% is offered for enrollment, but the site does not give a percentage for the calculated discount. Most such programs average a discount between 10-15% and we would expect this one to perfom much the same way.
Currently, Drive Sense is not offered in all states. There is no risk for using it – Esurance does not penalize drivers based on the information sent back by the device.
Esurance offers a motorcycle insurance program that includes all of the basic required coverage to meet state minimums as well as a host of add-on options.
Coverage is available for a wide variety of motorcycles as well as mopeds, scooters, and off-road bikes. Coverage options include trip interruption and coverage for optional equipment.
Esurance offers a standard homeowner’s insurance program that covers all of the basics; dwelling protection, personal liability, and personal property.
Optional coverage includes building code coverage, extended replacement cost on the dwelling, identity theft coverage, and home day care coverage. There are several discounts available for home policies, including the auto/home bundling option. Home safety features and claim-free discounts are among the other options.
In addition to homeowners, Esurance writes landlord insurance and renters insurance.
Home insurance isn’t offered in all states, and in some states, it’s underwritten by a different company, Answer Financial.
There is a list of other products on the Esurance website, but these products are not underwritten by Esurance. They are offered via a partnership with other insurance companies. These include life insurance, specialty vehicle coverage, pet insurance, and business insurance.
Business insurance is offered through Allstate, and pet insurance through Fetch; life insurance is offered through a network of partners that are not listed on the website.
Offering products through other companies is a common practice for big insurers that want to provide customers assistance with policies they don’t write,
Esurance was built on a promise of low rates, and from day one they have advertised themselves as a budget alternative. As a result, we expect to see rates that fall well below average.
We found the Esurance quoting system to be somewhat frustrating, but this is likely because our sample information returns no actual driver records and today’s quoting systems are designed to pull those records automatically. Therefore, because Esurance could find no record of a current or previous insurance policy for our sample driver, we were quoted automatically as having never had insurance, without the option to manually change this. This may have impacted our rate quote.
We then found that each individual coverage had to be changed on the quote one by one, since the system automatically quoted bare minimum coverage. This was time consuming, but eventually returned us a quote for what both we and the California Department of Insurance deem to be standard coverage, 100/300/100 and $500 deductibles.
For comparison, we also looked at the sample premiums the Department of Insurance website uses. These quotes may differ based on the specific sample information we entered on the Esurance site, and because they are run on January 1 of each year and may be somewhat outdated at the time of this review.
Our rate quote came in about a thousand dollars lower than what the Department of Insurance had listed – their premium comparison ranks Esurance somewhere in the middle for rates. Our quote brought them in well below average, which is where they have stood in our rate comparisons for some time.
They appear to perform better than other companies when it comes to bare bones policies that are designed mainly to get the driver on the road legally. This is not surprising for a company that aims at the budget insurance market.
It is not surprising that claims are handled with a technology-first approach, and can be filed both online or through Esurance’s mobile app. Although there is a main customer service line listed for the company, there is no claims-specific phone number listed on the auto claims page. Like everything else with Esurance, the focus is on handling everything without having to speak to anyone.
The mobile app offers the option to upload photos for the claim quickly and easily. The photo claims system promises faster processing, often without having to speak to an adjuster (again, a focus on keeping human interaction to a minimum) and as quickly as one day after filing. This system likely works mainly for small, simple claims – fender bender-type accidents.
Esurance uses a direct repair network for auto claims called E-star. These shops offer direct billing and interaction with the claims department and also guarantee their work. Drivers also have the option to choose their own repair shop.
On the home side of claims, the company also has a network of selected contractors, which operates through the Resolve by Lowe’s program. These contractors offer a three-year guarantee on their work.
Unlike the auto claims page, the homeowner’s claims page does offer a claims phone number, 1-800-ESURANCE. It seems likely that this line can also be used for auto claims, but it is not listed on the auto claims page.
Homeowner’s insurance claims can also be filed online, but the site does not indicate whether they can be filed via the mobile app or not.
Policyholders can monitor the status of a claim either by logging into their account on the Esurance website, or by using the mobile app.
Ratings and Consumer Reviews
Esurance has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and there are 298 complaints on file in the past three years. For a company as large as this, that is not a high number of complaints. The 59 customer reviews on the page give the company an average of two stars overall. There are a few positive reviews among the negative ones, most of which involve claims. Esurance does make an effort to respond to most of the reviews, which shows an interest in resolving complaints.
There are 966 reviews of Esurance on Consumer Affairs. The overall star rating, which is based on the 198 reviews in the last year, is three stars. That indicates a higher number of positive reviews than negative ones – something that is noteworthy since people generally head to this website when they have a complaint and we do not often see a star rating that leans to the positive here. The most recent negative reviews are more focused on billing issues and rate increases than on claims, although there are also complaints about problems with the claims process. The positive reviews balance these complaints with comments about excellent customer service and a good claims experience.
Esurance did not perform particularly well on the 2018 J.D. Power claims satisfaction survey, with an overall three out of five rating that indicates average service. Their points ranking places them a little below the industry average. They did not perform much better on the insurance shopping study, again earning only three stars and ranking towards the bottom of the list.
It is worth noting that they performed better than their parent company, Allstate, on the survey. It is also worth pointing out that both of Esurance’s top competitors – Progressive and Geico, also ranked below average on the claims survey, with Progressive showing very similar rankings to Esurance in both surveys.
The old adage that you get what you pay for often applies to the insurance industry, and there do seem to be some customers that feel their cheaper car insurance premiums earned them sub-par service. That said, there are quite a few highly positive reviews, which we do not always see with any insurance company.
2017 reports that Esurance was losing money may explain some of the complaints in regards to rate increases; these may have come as a result of pressure from Allstate to improve profit margins.
The Bottom Line
Esurance remains one of the top budget options for car insurance, and they will appeal to those that prefer to handle all of their insurance needs online and don’t want to work with an agent. They have a good number of positive reviews balancing the negative, and respond to complaints in a timely fashion, which reflects well on them – but we’d still like to see a better ranking in the JD Power survey. That said, we do recommend comparing Esurance to its competitors when shopping for car insurance, particularly for direct buy coverage, and see nothing of real concern in the company’s reputation.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.