UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018
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First American Summary
From humble beginnings in 1894 as the Orange County Title Company, First American Financial Corporation has grown to become a major provider of title insurance and financial services nationally. It began its rapid growth in 1957 when Donald Parker Kennedy, the grandson of the founder, developed a plan to expand the company.
Since then, First American has opened new offices and acquired existing title and abstract companies. They have also expanded into other financial services including home warranties, credit reporting and more. Since 1988, they have also expanded internationally with offices in Canada, Mexico, Korea, and Hong Kong. In addition, First American now has the leading market share for title insurance in Australia and the United Kingdom.
Along with expansion in other real estate-related financial services, First American acquired Great Pacific as a subsidiary and renamed it First American Property and Casualty Insurance Company in 1999. The newest insurance subsidiary offers auto, home, and umbrella insurance coverage as a natural extension of its first contact with customers.
First American writes a shorter list of products than many national companies. Allowing them to focus on personal insurance coverage for multiple types of homes.
First American writes four different types of home insurance policies, each designed for a particular type of dwelling:
- Homeowners Insurance
- Condo Owners Insurance – Offering similar coverage to homeowners, but tailored to the specific needs of a condo where an association is responsible for the main structure.
- Renters Insurance – Covering the personal property of a tenant, as well as providing liability coverage, with no structure coverage.
- Dwelling Fire Insurance – Covering the structure and liability along with specific coverage for non owner-occupied homes, such as loss of rent.
Homeowner’s Insurance package policies cover the structure, personal property, liability, and several additional benefits.
First American offers a base policy with three levels of enhancement:
- Enhancement Plus – With 125% replacement cost on the home, 20% more personal property coverage with replacement cost coverage, and identity theft along with a few other features
- Eagle Premier – Which goes up to 150% replacement cost for the home in addition to the features of the Enhancement Plus package, along with building code coverage as well
- Eagle Platinum – The highest level of coverage with guaranteed replacement cost, business property coverage, and extra coverage for high-value items
First American offers a solid auto insurance program with a hefty multi-policy discount of up to 25% for bundling auto and home.
Coverage includes all of the expected basics as well as built in new car replacement. There are also plenty of discounts available in addition to the multi-policy, most of which are common discounts such as multi-car, loyalty, safety features, accident free, and more.
First American also offers Personal Umbrella coverage for extended liability and flood insurance products.
First America does offer online quoting to compare rates. As an agent-drive company, they are likely to be a little on the higher side when compared to larger direct-buy companies such as Geico.
As previously discussed, First American does offer some substantial discounts for auto/home bundling. Such a discount is likely to have quite an impact on premiums and as a result, make the company more competitive.
First American does not advertise as a budget insurance option, but rather presents itself as a company offering great products and good service for a little extra cost. However, it is interesting to note that many reviews of the company do mention low rates, which suggests that prices may be more competitive than one would expect from an agent driven company.
First American claims can be filed online or over the phone through their toll-free customer service line: 1-888-922-5344. Claims are then passed from the customer service representative to an adjuster. The adjuster will then review the facts of the incident, determine fault, review coverage, and provide a settlement.
First American does not appear to work with a specific repair network, therefore, customers are free to select any licensed repair shop for auto claims. The assigned claims adjuster will work with the repair shop, and pay directly when the claim is settled.
First American is not BBB accredited and carries a very surprising F rating. There are only a few complaints registered against the business – 14 in the past three years, one of which was closed in the past 12 months. That is a very low number for a company of this size, however the BBB notes that the company failed to respond to two of those complaints and one was not resolved. The BBB can be fairly quick to drop ratings for companies that fail to respond to complaints.
With a company like First American, it is sometimes hard to distinguish the reviews for the property & casualty insurance company from the title insurance company. Sorting through the reviews on various sites such as Yelp, there are several customer complaints about denied claims and poor customer service. However, the overall number of complaints is really quite low for a company this size, and nothing that raises any big red flags.
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First American Property & Casualty is worth a look for anyone who is planning to insure both a home and car, and who wants the personal service of an agent. Their product lineup is basic, but their home and auto programs appear solid and offer plenty of features, coverage levels, and discounts. It is difficult, however, to fully recommend a company with a low BBB rating and complaints that have not received a response. Fixing that rating would be a big step towards First American earning a reputation as solid as their products appear to be.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.