UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018
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Foremost was founded in 1952 for the purpose of offering home insurance to mobile home owners and was the first company to do so. Based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Foremost grew steadily over the years and expanded their product lineup to include more specialty products. They were the first company to write policies for travel trailers, and today offer a full range of recreational vehicle products along with specialty auto, motorcycle, and home policies. They are the number one mobile home insurance company in the country by market share.
In 2000, Farmers Insurance Group acquired Foremost, which gives its policyholder access to multi-policy discounts across companies. Farmers is in turn owned by international insurance giant Zurich Insurance Group.
Policies are sold through the huge Farmers Insurance network of captive agents, with more than 38,000 agents nationwide. Foremost is also endorsed by the AARP for both mobile home and motorcycle insurance and is affiliated with Farmers-owned Bristol West Insurance and collector car insurer J.C. Taylor. The company offers products in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
Best known for mobile home insurance, Foremost offers a range of other home policies. They also write a variety of auto insurance coverage, motorcycle, and variety of recreational vehicle policies including ATVs, boats, and other vehicles.
Foremost’s home insurance program focuses on homes that may not qualify for a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. This includes homes that are older or have certain risk factors, seasonal and vacation homes, mobile and manufactured homes, and rentals.
Homeowner’s Insurance from Foremost is, at the base level, an actual cash value, named perils policy. This means that the policy will only cover the specific perils listed in the policy, and it will only pay out the actual cash value of the home at the time of the damage based on age, condition, and depreciation. There is an option to upgrade that coverage to replacement cost, or even to 125% replacement cost if the home qualifies.
Also included are personal property coverage – which can also be upgraded to replacement cost – liability coverage, and the option to add on several endorsements to protect home businesses or high-value items.
Some of these options – particularly extended replacement cost – are difficult to find in a non-standard home insurance policy.
Mobile Home policies are Foremost’s flagship product and are available for older mobile homes as well as newer manufactured homes. The coverage includes a comprehensive list of named perils and has the option to add replacement cost coverage as well. Liability and Agreed Loss Settlement are both also included, along with extras like food spoilage, debris removal, additional living expenses, and coverage for trees, shrubs, and bushes.
There are a wide variety of add-on endorsements for mobile homes that rival the list offered by many standard homeowner’s programs. This includes:
- Hobby farm or ranch liability
- Identity fraud
- Water damage
- Earthquake coverage
- Trip coverage when the home is moved
- Scheduled personal property
- Personal property replacement cost
Vacant and Seasonal Home insurance is designed to cover a home that is not a primary residence and is vacant for periods of time, either seasonally or for other reasons. These homes represent an increased risk due to the fact that there is not always someone around to notice a problem and can be a target for thieves and vandals. Foremost’s policies cover vandalism and malicious mischief on vacant homes.
Foremost will cover seasonal homes with no requirement that a primary residence is insured by the same company. Both policies offer named perils coverage and actual cash value – but only seasonal homes can be upgraded to replacement or even extended replacement cost coverage.
Landlord Insurance is designed for rental homes, and it provides coverages specific to the needs of landlords in addition to the usual home protection. Foremost’s policy includes loss of rent coverage and personal injury coverage. This product also has to option to upgrade to extended replacement cost coverage.
Flood insurance is also available as a separate policy for homes from low to high risk.
Foremost offers auto insurance policies that are underwritten by Bristol West Insurance. They do not write any auto coverage directly. Bristol West offers non-standard auto insurance to drivers that may have trouble getting coverage elsewhere.
Collectible car insurance is also available through an affiliated company – JC Taylor.
Foremost insures a wide variety of motorcycles, and bikes that cannot be covered under a Farmers policy are often sent to Foremost for coverage. They offer comprehensive motorcycle insurance policies that include all of the basics of liability, comprehensive, and collision and also some motorcycle-specific coverage such as safety apparel coverage and optional equipment coverage.
Coverage also includes roadside assistance and trailer coverage. The policy is an annual term and is priced to compensate for the off-season in locations where motorcycles can’t be used in winter months.
Specialty Vehicle Insurance
Foremost has policies for a wide range of specialty vehicles, including:
- Neighborhood Electric Vehicles
- Golf Carts
- Off-Road Vehicles
- Luxury Motor Coaches
They also offer a program for various watercraft, from speedboats to personal watercraft (jet skis) and more.
Foremost’s recreational vehicle program includes coverage for both motorhomes and travel trailer. Specialized coverage includes full-timer options for RVs.
Foremost’s online system did not allow us to obtain rate quotes for any of the products we tried in our sample state of California; in each instance, we were given the option to contact an agent. It is unclear whether any product in any state can be quoted online – the system seems to indicate that the quoting options vary based on product and location.
We were unable to obtain any rates for comparison, but it is worth noting that Foremost writes specialty policies and also accepts risks other insurance companies would turn down. This means their rates may not be comparable to standard insurance companies.
Foremost claims can be filed online or toll-free at 1-800-527-3907. Claims representatives are available 24/7 to assist customers.
Auto claims are submitted to a separate claims department since they are underwritten by other companies.
Foremost boasts a team of more than 14,000 claims representatives and has Mobile Claims Centers available for catastrophic situations such as natural disasters. Claims are handled via a common process of contact, estimates and evaluation of the claim, and payment of claim. The length of time for a claim to be closed depends on the type of claim and the nature of the loss.
Ratings and Consumer Reviews
Foremost’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) page for the main office in Michigan does not currently have a rating. The file states that complaints are handled by another BBB, but none of the branch BBB pages we checked for Foremost have a rating.
Consumer Affairs has a total of 35 reviews on a homeowners-specific review page, with a 2-star rating overall. The reviews are mainly negative, but the number of complaints is really quite low for so large a company.
In general, the complaint volume for Foremost is low, and they appear to have a solid reputation, but it is always worth checking local ratings for a company that depends on captive agents, as the agent experience can make a big difference to overall customer satisfaction.
The Bottom Line
Foremost is a big, solid insurance company backed by even bigger companies that provide financial stability and access to a variety of policies and discounts through their affiliation. They have a lot of experience in their areas of expertise and are well worth a look if you need non-standard or specialty insurance. They are also a good choice for those with Farmers policies in force, as cross-company multi-policy discounts may apply.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.