UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018
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Founders’ history goes back to 1901, with the creation of the Mutual Fire Insurance Company in the Chicago area of Illinois. In the 1960s, Mutual Fire Insurance Company merged with a foundry workers insurer known as Founders Mutual under the name Illinois Founders Insurance Company.
In 1999, as the company expanded nationwide, the name of their founding state was dropped from the name.
Founders today maintains offices in five states and is licensed in 47 states as well as the District of Columbia. The headquarters remain in the Chicago area. Their small list of products includes personal auto insurance and home insurance, commercial auto, and liquor liability.
Founders sell their products mainly through independent agents across the country, and product availability varies by state.
On the personal lines side, Founders writes auto and home insurance, while the business side includes commercial auto and liability, specifically liquor liability.
The Founders auto program offers coverage on both standard and non-standard levels, but their main focus is on the non-standard market. Their auto policies are available in Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin.
As a non-standard insurer, Founders promises coverage with flexible payments and no credit requirements. They also write policies, including non-owner options, for people with international drivers’ licenses, requiring SR-22s, or with problematic driving records.
They offer a basic list of discounts but do not provide much information in terms of coverage.
Founders write both homeowners and renters insurance; homeowners insurance is only offered in Illinois.
Like their auto, Founders does not require a credit check for homeowners but covers only owner-occupied properties. Their plans appear to cater to those who might not have qualified for coverage from other companies.
They have several programs, including standard homeowner’s package insurance and policies for older homes with limited coverage. Founders also offer coverage for condos and townhomes.
Renters insurance is also offered to cover personal property; there is no indication on the website as to in which states this program is offered.
Founders write light commercial auto policies, which are for vehicles weighing less than 16,000 lbs. and traveling within a 200-mile radius. Like their other programs, Founders offers coverage to those who have difficulty obtaining it due to international or unverifiable licenses, but the company does have a surcharge for this.
The program specializes in snow plowers and landscapers, but it is available to a range of other business types, including carpet cleaners, auto parts delivery, window installers, and messenger services.
Commercial Auto is offered in Illinois and Indiana.
A specialty of the company, Founders writes liquor liability for bars, clubs, restaurants, caterers, and many more businesses where alcohol is served.
They also provide special liquor liability policies for events like weddings, festivals, fundraisers, or other types of parties and gatherings.
Founders does not offer online quoting, which is common for a smaller, agent-driven company. The website will help visitors to find a local agent in order to obtain a quote.
Since this company is focused on the non-standard market, we would not expect their rates to compare to those from a standard insurance company.
Founders does offer an online claims filing option, for both customers and those involved in an accident with a Founders policyholder. There is also a toll-free claims line, but we had to visit the contact page to find it, as there is not a dedicated claims section on the company website.
The company does have a policyholder login area, beyond which there may be more information on claims; outside of this, there is almost no mention of claims or how processing is handled.
Ratings and Customer Reviews
Founders has an A+ rating with the Bette Business Bureau (BBB), but there are 195 complaints on file in the past three years. Although it does not seem to have affected the rating overall, this is a pretty high number for a relatively small and unknown company. Of the complaints listed, 38 have been closed in the past 12 months.
Founders has 192 Google reviews, which, again, is a lot for this type of company. The overall rating is 1.3 stars and the vast majority of the reviews are very negative. There are repeated complaints about poor customer service, unreturned phone calls, slow response, and denial of claims.
Among the 20 Yelp reviews, there are a handful of positive comments, but the overall rating remains a dismal 1.5 stars. Again, the same comments about the company’s claims service and responsiveness are repeated here.
Overall, the reviews leave a pretty negative impression of Founders.
The Bottom Line
While those in search of non-standard insurance can often feel they have limited choices, there are other choices and companies with fewer complaints recorded against them. From our research, most of the complaints centered on auto insurance, so this company may be a better choice in other areas – but again there does seem to be a lot of complaints, there is a possibility you will find better value elsewhere.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.