UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018
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With over 100 years in the insurance industry, Great American takes its place among the older companies in the nation. Along with the backing of a Fortune 500 parent company, Great American also has a strong financial base. Serving niche markets with property & casualty coverage, Great American covers specialty businesses while also offering retirement products to individuals.
Great American Summary
Great American Insurance Company was founded in 1872 in New York City as the German American Insurance Company. However, the name was changed in 1918 due to the First World War and altering American attitudes. In 1959 Great American Life Insurance was launched, and in the 1960s the company was purchased by National General Corporation and moved its headquarters to Los Angeles.
In the 1970s, National General was merged with American Financial, which became the official parent company of Great American Insurance Group in 2007, and remains so to this day. Also during the 1970s, the company headquarters was moved again to Cincinnati. Although the company offered a variety of personal lines coverage throughout its history, the final purchase by American Financial whittled the focus down to retirement products and niche commercial insurance.
Great American Insurance products are sold through agents across the country and may be underwritten by a variety of subsidiary companies in the group.
Great American Insurance is primarily a commercial insurance company, writing business insurance policies for niche companies as well as a wide variety of products for farms. They also write annuities for retirement planning.
Aimed at commercial risks that might not find coverage elsewhere, or need more specific coverage, Great American’s property & casualty commercial products provide insurance for niche businesses. They also write some standard products.
Commercial insurance products are written through a variety of subsidiary companies of the Great American Insurance Group, and the type of product availability varies by company and area.
Among the commercial products the company writes:
- Captive Insurance Models
- Commercial Auto for a number of different types of vehicles
- Equine Mortality
- Excess and Surplus
- Fidelity and Crime
- General Liability
- Human and Social Services
- Inland Marine
- Lease and Loan Service
- Ocean Marine
- Package Policies
- Surety Bonds
- Trade Credit and Political Risk
- Worker’s Compensation
Agricultural Business Insurance
Great American writes a wide variety of Agribusiness and farming insurance products.
Agribusiness package policies are available to cover a number of different types of operations, including ranches, dairy farms, equine farms, and many other types of farms. These policies cover basics of liability and property insurance, as well as items specific to the type of farming operation.
Great American also writes crop insurance, offering multi-peril policies, crop-hail insurance, and named peril crop insurance as well.
Personal Insurance Products
As the only remaining personal products available from Great American since the refocus on commercial, annuities are available to help with financial planning for retirement.
Great American writes three main types of annuities:
These products are written mainly through Great American Life Insurance Company and Annuity Investors Life Insurance Company, both subsidiaries. There are also some smaller subsidiaries offering products.
As a result of the unique markets and the variability in the needs and requirements of individuals or companies seeking these products, it’s very difficult to make any sort of price comparison. As a niche company, they may not have as many competitors and price shopping is not likely to be as big a consideration for consumers.
Great American doesn’t write either of the products we usually use for price comparisons – neither auto nor life, and as a result, we are unable to rank them in terms of price against our usual measures.
There is no information provided on the Great American website in terms of how claims are filed or what the process is. This is likely due to the specialty nature of their business, which would involve complex claims likely handled through agents or directly with the company through a policyholder services line.
There is a contact page on the website dedicated to providing a claims contact for each division offered by Great American. This is a nice asset to the website.
Although Great American Insurance is not Better Business Bureau accredited, it does have an A+ rating according to the BBB’s multi-factor rating system. There have been just ten complaints against Great American in the past three years.
This is a small number of complaints for a large company, but it’s not surprising given the nature of the business Great American writes. Mainly a commercial insurer, Great American’s customers are less likely to use a forum like the BBB to deal with a problem than are individuals purchasing personal insurance. There are no major red flags in the complaints.
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Great American offers mainly commercial insurance and may be a good option for those running small or specific businesses that need a particular kind of coverage. They also specialize in farm insurance, covering a lot of different areas of farming and ranching. Those seeking general business insurance can obtain it here but may be better off going with a larger, more generalized insurer.
Great American also offers annuities through their life insurance company, but that is the limit of their individual products, which may lead some people to choose a more diverse company with more of a focus on individuals rather than businesses.
There is not a lot in the way of reviews that is of major concern, and of the few complaints out there, some are several years old. Although it’s difficult to say with a mainly commercial-focused company how many issues may have been resolved without the use of Internet forums to review. Overall, there is nothing serious against the company, and they may be the right choice for those with very specific needs.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.