American Family Insurance Review

American Family Insurance
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This nearly 100-year-old mutual company is a homegrown insurer focused mainly on just what the name implies – the needs of American families. American Family Insurance’s marketing promises to protect you while you pursue your dreams, and provides a full range of products to help do that.

American Family Summary

American Family Insurance (also referred to as AmFam) was founded in 1927 as Farmers Mutual Insurance Company (no connection to Farmer’s Insurance). Like several other insurance companies that started around this era, the mutual company was designed to serve the needs of farmers, providing them with auto insurance.

As the company grew and expanded to offer new products and open beyond the farm market, they changed their name. In 1963 Farmer’s Mutual became American Family Mutual Insurance Company. They have made numerous acquisitions of other companies over the years and expanded their service area. Their most recent expansion was into Georgia in 2009.

Today, American Family offers a long list of personal products including the big three – auto, home, and life – as well as specialty products ranging from recreational vehicles to snowmobiles. They write policies directly as well as through a list of subsidiary companies:

  • American Family Mutual Insurance Company
  • American Standard Insurance Company
  • American Family Life Insurance Company
  • American Family Brokerage, Inc.
  • American Family Insurance Company of Ohio
  • American Standard Insurance Company of Ohio
  • American Family Securities, LLC
  • Amfam.com Inc.
  • PGC Holdings Corporation (General Insurance Companies “The General”)
  • Homesite Insurance

The two most recent acquisitions are The General – a discount auto insurance company – in 2012, and Homesite Insurance in 2013.

American Family’s headquarters is in Madison, WI. At one point, the company had 12 regional offices, but reduced the number to four in 2011. They serve 19 states: Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin, although products offerings differ from state to state.

American Family policies are sold through independent agents, more than 3500 across the operating states. Quoting for some policy types is available online, although the quoting system is clunky and requires a lot of information.

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American Family Products

The product lineup from American Family is comprehensive, especially when it comes to their main focus, personal lines. They do offer business insurance as well, and a variety of other coverage including farm & ranch insurance, travel, and even access to health insurance through partners.

Auto Insurance

American Family’s first product offering is still their biggest line of business, and they write all of the basic coverage you would expect on a standard auto policy. There are a few options that are a little less common, such as Accidental Death & Dismemberment coverage.

American Family car insurance discounts are somewhat limited, leaving off some of the more specific discounts many large insurers offer. Available discounts include:

  • Auto/Home
  • Auto/Life
  • Multi-Vehicle
  • Good Student
  • Accident-Free
  • Defensive Driving Course

American Family has an award-winning program for young drivers called the Teen Safe Driver Program. It uses in-car technology called the DriveCam system to record driving behavior and provide feedback that helps teens improve. Studies of the program have shown large reductions in dangerous driving behavior, up to 70%. The National Safety Council gave the program its Teen Driving Safety Leadership Award in 2010.

American Family also has a usage-based insurance program, which most major insurers have introduced in recent years. Their version is called mySafetyValet, and it’s advertised to policyholders as a method of becoming a better driver. American Family offers a 5% discount just for signing up for the program, which involves placing a small device in your car to monitor your driving behavior and earn you even more discounts. Currently, most of these systems can only be beneficial to the user, as there is not penalty if the device records poor driving habits, just a reward for good driving. However, some insurance companies are moving towards penalizing unsafe driving habits, so it’s something important to be aware of for the future.

Homeowner’s Insurance

American Family’s homeowner’s insurance covers all of the basics – replacement cost for the structure itself, personal property, and liability. American Family also offers a list of optional add-ons and upgrades for homeowner’s, including:

  • Personal property replacement cost
  • Scheduled Personal Property
  • Identity Theft
  • Personal Injury
  • Home Day Care
  • Home Office and Studio
  • Vacant Home
  • Sewer and Sump Pump Backup

Auto and home bundling are available along with other discounts to bring down rates. In addition to covering standard single-family homes, there are also policies for:

  • Condo Insurance
  • Mobile and Manufactured Home
  • Renter’s Insurance to cover personal property for tenants

Life Insurance

Both standard term with various lengths and whole life are available from American Family, along with two other options. These are a simple term and a more flexible option to round out the offerings.

The SimplyProtected Term Life is an easy to obtain policy good for those who need quick, basic coverage. These policies are affordable and a good place to start if you haven’t purchased life insurance before.

MyLife is a flexible policy with two options. The Freedom option has higher coverage during the years when you need it most, and continuing protection into the later years of life. With this plan no premiums are necessary with reduced coverage in retirement. The Legacy option maximizes both coverage and cash accumulation over the years in order to provide for your family in the future.

Motorcycle Insurance

American Family offers two levels of motorcycle insurance, the Basic Plan and the Basic Plan Plus. They insure a variety of different types of bikes, from cruisers to sport bikes.

At the Basic level, you get liability, comprehensive, and collision coverage among other basic coverage. The Plus level also adds coverage for a wide variety of accessories from trailers to saddlebags. There are also a variety of discounts available for motorcycle insurance, including one for riders over 50.

Recreational and Off-Road Vehicles

Policies are available for recreational vehicles including motor homes and travel trailers, as well as for off-road vehicles such as snowmobiles and ATVs.

Damage and liability coverage specific to the needs of each type of vehicle are included in the policy. Recreational vehicle policies include extended personal property and roadside assistance, while trailer coverage is added for off-road vehicles. American Family has full-time policies for those who live on the road in their RV full-time, providing the extra coverage you need when spending most of your time traveling.

Boats and Watercraft

American Family covers a wide variety of watercraft, including sailboats, kayaks, and motorboats. Their policies include coverage for boats while on the water as well as on the trailer – and coverage for the trailer itself.

Sails, spars, and rigging are covered for sailboats, while motorized craft are covered for outboard motors and other manufacturer-installed equipment.

Business Insurance

American Family writes coverage for a variety of different small and mid-sized businesses including offices, medical and dental, janitorial, garage and auto repair.

Their small business package policies include general liability, employment practices liability, business property, and a variety of other coverage specific to the type of business. Some options are available as individual policies; while others come in packages so you can select the coverage you need most.

Farm and Ranch

American Family was started to serve farmers and it continues to serve them today with Farm and Ranch insurance policies. Coverage is provided for farm equipment, liability, dwelling, and personal property among other farm-specific needs.

These policies are specifically aimed at family-run farms that include a dwelling and personal property, and not at commercial operations.

Travel Insurance

American Family offers basic options for travel insurance including travel medical, trip cancellation, and both auto and boat coverage for trips into Mexico. The Mexican auto insurance is a convenient option, since many people wind up purchasing it from a random company just before crossing the border – buying from a trusted company provides more peace of mind.

Health Insurance

American Family offers health insurance products through Time Insurance Company, a subsidiary of Assurant Health. Plans include:

  • Major Medical
  • Dental
  • Medicare Supplemental

Other Products

There are several other products available from American Family, including flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Plan and umbrella policies to cover excess liability above and beyond underlying policy limits.

Prices and Premiums

Our auto insurance rate test shows AmFam at 12% above average.

It should be noted that we were unable to obtain a quote for our usual test state, California, so we have used a comparable market for this analysis. All other details remain the same. Because of any discrepancy in price due to different underwriting, AmFam is given an additional 0.25 stars in the rating at the top of the page to cover any inconsistency.

American Family does offer discounts for bundling, so it’s possible that better savings on premiums would be seen when you choose to cover both home and auto – if not life insurance as well, since there is a discount for that too. With a good list of discounts, American Family’s auto premiums could probably come out closer to average if keeping everything under one roof. They will never be seen as a discount insurer, however, and that’s not how they position themselves.

In order to justify higher rates, an insurance company has to offer service and products to match that rate. We’ll take a look at how American Family stacks up in the service department a little further down, especially when it comes to claims.

Advertising and Media

American Family Insurance has something of an old-school feel to their advertisements due to the use of a catchy song presentation of their company name – anyone who has heard it will instantly remember it when they hear the company name.

The logo is the roof of a house, hinting at the protection of a roof over you and yours, a strong connection to the company’s usual message of covering you while you pursue the American Dream. Campaigns have leaned heavily on the idea of pursuing dreams as well, placing insurance as the backup plan that lets you go after whatever your dream might be without worry.

A 2015 Super Bowl spot featuring American Idol finalist and Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson fits right into the concept of pursuing dreams. The star’s appearance is a pretty big coup for a regional insurer, and the ad ran in the company’s areas of operation. The ad launched to new tagline “Insure Carefully. Dream Fearlessly,” a more inspirational version of the previous marketing position.

American Family has also put a lot of money and effort into support and sponsorship of charities, most notably a $10 million donation to fund the American Family Children’s Hospital at the University of Wisconsin. They’ve also supported the United Way, Children’s Miracle Network, and many other smaller charities throughout the states they work in.

The company also sponsors a variety of sports and athletic events, and uses them to tie in with charitable programs and donations as well as part of their concept of being a part of the communities they serve.

Claims

Claims are an important part of any insurance company’s reputation, and the place where many insurance companies fail the test. For a company like AmFam, which sells the idea of protecting your dreams, claims are a very important part of the picture, especially since they aren’t offering the lowest rates around.

American Family has a number of ways of filing a claim, depending on the type of policy. Any claim can be filed by contacting the insurance agent of record, who can help determine how to proceed. The insurance agent is always a good place to start if you aren’t certain whether or not to file a claim or how your coverage will work – that’s one of the upsides to choosing agent-sold insurance policies.

Auto, Home, Life and Business Insurance policyholders can call in their claims to the 24-hour claims line at 1-888-MY-AMFAM. Life insurance claims go through extension 78080.

The above mentioned policies (with the exception of life insurance) can also be filed online that takes customers through a four-step process. Life insurance must be filed over the phone or your agent.

Health Insurance claims are filed through a different toll-free number, at 1-888-755-3064.

The online system also allows policyholders to follow the claims process through the customer portal, keeping up on the status of a claim quickly and easily. Claims can also be followed over the phone or through an agent.

The website has a clear and easy to understand four-step outline of how claims are handled, which is very similar to the process seen at most insurance companies. Claims are reported, and then the policyholder can expect to be contacted within one business day by a representative. The claim is reviewed and investigated to determine what happened and how your coverage applies. American Family promises timely completion of the process and benefits available as soon as possible.

When it comes to claims satisfaction, American Family is coming out ahead of most of its competitors. The J.D. Power study of claims satisfaction for 2014 ranked American Family a 4 out of 5 overall, which places it above average and above most of the companies that were surveyed. Only three other companies received this ranking, and only two had a better one.

The only two areas on the survey where American Family had lower rankings of 3 out of five were on appraisal and settlement. Either way, American Family ranks highly over its competitors in the claims department.

While reviews from customers out there show much of the common negativity that we usually see, there are also some very positive reviews of the claims department. That’s significant because happy people don’t usually write reviews, while unhappy people do. The fact that American Family impressed some people enough write a positive review is a good sign.

Consumer Feedback and Reviews

Interestingly for a company that does so well in claims satisfaction, American Family ranks a bit lower in the J.D. Power Auto Insurance Purchase rating survey. They received a 3 out of 5 here overall, getting as low as 2 out of 5 on their policy offerings. It’s rare to see a company perform well in claims and not as well in purchase experience.

Out of 74 ratings on ConsumerAffairs.com, 65 are 1-star reviews and 7 are 2-star reviews, leaving only 2 5-star reviews. This is pretty typical for this particular site, which is generally a forum for complaints against insurance companies rather than the type of place a customer might go to report how pleased they are. The number of reviews overall is fairly low, which suggests there are plenty of happy customers who didn’t bother to write a review.

American Family Insurance is not BBB accredited, and they currently have a B rating. That is not what you would expect to see from a company in the insurance industry. Nearly every major insurance firm has an A or A+. The BBB site states that the reason for the lowered ranking is the fact that there are 2 complaints to which the company did not respond, and 4 that have not been resolved.

Overall, the BBB has 252 complaints in the past three years against American Family on record. 89 of those were closed in the last 12 months. There are also some negative reviews that have been left on the BBB website; there are not many, but there are rarely a large number of reviews found on this particular site. The number of complaints isn’t terribly high for the size of the company, but the unresolved ones are fairly unusual, as most large insurers are quick to respond and handle this type of complaint.

There aren’t any major controversies or lawsuits to report, and no government actions against the company. It’s fairly common to see a lot of negative review of insurance companies, usually due to the fact that many people misunderstand how their policies work or are simply angry for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t mean we should overlook the negative reviews, but in this case the actual number of reviews overall, even if most are negative, is not very concerning.

Bottom Line

American Family Insurance is one of the larger regional insurers, offering policies in 19 states. Their rates are a little on the high side, but it’s possible that they could become more reasonable given the right combination of discounts. They have a good range of products and can provide a one-stop shopping experience for most personal lines customers, as well as small business options.

A strong, reputable claims department puts this company ahead of the pack, in spite of lower reviews in the area of policy purchase experience. Claims are the time when an insurance company is truly put to the test and it’s fairly safe to say it’s this experience that matters most in the end to anyone who actually has to use their insurance. Overall, this company comes out with a pretty good reputation.

American Family is a good choice for those who want to bundle insurance policies such as auto, home, and life and can benefit from the available discounts. Rates are likely to be best for people with a good driving record and generally low-risk insurance needs. Unfortunately, there are a lot of states for which American Family is not yet an option; however, for those who do have access it is worth checking out.

For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.

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Review Information

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American Family Insurance
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Comments

  1. Russ says

    American family crooks! Hit 4 cows in the road middle of nite on a corner on a bridge total of 15 cows out. Total my sons truck him and I built together. CLAM DENIED! CROOKED [Redacted]!

  2. corey says

    amfam sucks I had a new car that was taken.when I got it back the engine was messed up amfam would not fix it.when I stared a law suit they lied and got out of the law suit.so here I sit I owe $15,000 on a car I don’t even have,my credit is messed up.it makes it hard to start a new family with bad credit.all because amfam did not pay for something they should have. There all nice to you tell the day you need them,meaning tell the day you have to file a claim.its not worth it go somewhere else.

  3. matilda a laythe says

    I have had a burglary at my house and it was in March of this year I have done everything I was ask to do and now I am told it is being investigated by the Atty of the American family ins. They made me feel like i am a liar and i have been recorded and then had to notarize a loss statement form and now no one will tell me anything at all except there atty will be contacting me . WoW. I am floored by this .

  4. Olivia Sullivan says

    Since years my friends Family in Wisconsin has American Family Insurance- for 3 cars.. 2 houses..I They were always pleased. But now they have a severe mold problem and Racoon faces in the attic.
    It causes to everybody who lives in the house:
    Cough
    Wheezing or other breathing difficulties
    Sore/hoarse throat
    Skin and eye irritation
    Fever
    Upper respiratory infections, including sinus infections.
    The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), says: mold spores drop on places where there is excessive moisture. Leaking roofs, leaky plumbing, sewer backups and frequently overflowing washing machines can create environments for this dangerous (some say deadly) mold. I very much wonder why American Family insurance is not paying for getting ride of these problems????
    My friend is seriously thinking of switching the insurance..

  5. Jackie Johnson says

    I had American family auto insurance for years and was pleased with my policy with [them], but i am pretty disgusted with the way that [they] dealt with my sister’s home owner insurance. She has been paying [them] home owner’s insurance for over 30 yrs now, and has only ever put in 1 claim since having it for when her house was bugalarized. [They] had sent someone out to inspect the property to see if she needed to up her insurance coverage, but instead [they] make a claim that she needs to reroof her house, and made her sign a disclaimer on having any insurance on the roof of her house as [they] found it to be just normal weather damage on her roof. Now we are being forced to replace the roof on the house by March 2015, which is still winter time in Minnesota. We have had a couple of years with a tornado and high wind weather damage in our area just before they came out as well. Now here is the funny part; both houses on each side of her house had there roofs replaced by their insurance agencies due to bad weather, but yet we are in the middle and her house only has normal weather damage, yeah right !! She had not put in for the claim on the roof just yet as she was just let go from her full time job and now was down to part time job and we were barely able to make ends meet let alone come up with a deductible for the roof. I live with her and am only receiving disability. Now i would have to say that coming up with the deductible would of have been a whole lot easier than it is being forced to come up with all of the cost to replace the roof. Which as [they] have pretty much gathered has been impossible for us to do. So here we sit in a house that has no coverage on the roof. I feel that her agent should of have done more to try and help with replacing her roof, instead of dumping this huge expense in our laps that we cannot afford to begin with. Especially after all the years that she has paid [them] for her coverage. She put all new windows in without [their] help, but yet [they] cannot find it in [their] company to help replace her roof. I wished they could of have seen the other 2 houses roofs on each side of her house before [they] came out and decided to dump my sister’s roof in her lap. As they looked just as bad and one was even worse than ours. He was unemployed at the time and yet his insurance company worked with him to get his replaced with a new roof because of the weather damage. So what i am saying is that this makes [them] look pretty bad, and i would like to know how much of a bonus did that [redacted] adjuster of [theirs] get for saving [them] money by not helping to replace her roof?? I will never recommend [their] company to anyone ever again that’s for sure. I am totally ashamed of [their] company. Especially after reading other comments from [their] customers.

  6. Kory says

    I am currently with American Family Insurance for my renters, car and my umbrella policies and currently working on getting my life insurance with them as well. If you are looking to get the cheapest rates possible I suggest going to a company that doesn’t care to educate you about what you are buying. If you want to do business with one of the best companies in the industry you would be wise to pay a little more.

    As being cacelled for making claims I have heard of all insurance companies doing the same thing. If you want your stuff to be covered from a flood or sewer backup maybe you should ask to have the policy reviewed with you and ask if it is covered up front. You might need flood insurance.

    In any case do your research and don’t always worry about price. I can gaurantee you that if you have a bad claims experience with an insurance company that saved you money up front you would gladly pay a little more to not go through that situation. Find a good agent with a good company and pay a little more. Because if your house burns down or your car is totalled your money up front could save you thousands.

  7. Shane , Nathan says

    I have American , family motorcycle insurance and recently was in a wreck to find out that only part of my motorcycle is covered it seems that fareings and saddle bags are excluded so whatch out guys with baggers

  8. Judy Schultz says

    I have been a policy holder of American Family insurance for the last 24 plus years. This year my home in Janesville, Wisconsin was burglarized and I submitted a claim. American Family paid that claim to my satisfaction, however, in April of this year my basement was flooded due to a backup of the city sewer system in a period of heavy rain. American Family denied that claim as not being covered under my policy. I disagree with that decision, however can live with it. On September 20, 2013, I received a letter from a Mr. [Redacted], District Underwriter, notifying me that my homeowners policy was to be terminated as of November 24, 2013 as a result of filing those to claims. I am simply astonished. After 24 years of paying for that policy and filing only 2 claims in all those years, only one of which they paid anything on, to be terminated is beyond belief. What audacity they have.

  9. Rose Brooks says

    I went to American Family Insurance to get a quote to see if their rates would save me money. I wanted to think it over and come back in after discussing it with my spouse and also doing some research about the company.
    After researching the company,on line and with one of their insured, I went back in to inform the agent we decided not to change our insurance provider. I was informed, at that time , that an insurance agent would coming to take photos the next day. I said I wouldn’t be home and also I did not want the insurance. I was told I did not need to be home for them to come and take pictures. I told them my property is fenced and has no trespassing signs so no one is welcome without calling first, and that I DID NOT want their insurance. I was very clear that I did not want their insurance. About a week later a woman, from American Family, climbed over our 6 foot high gate and knocked on the door and said she was there to take pictures. She was told we did not have their insurance and the she had walked past 2 NO TREPASSING signs and could have been injured climbing over our gate. If she had been injured climbing to get in and climbing over to get out, we and our insurance company would probably been liable for her injuries.

    She insisted we had their insurance policy. We do not and have never signed anything or paid for anything. I could have not been more clear that we did not have their insurance and we were especially clear she was trepassing. It was windy and raining heavily and there were large tree branches fallen and falling. We have trees that are at least 150 feet tall. We don’t wander around our 5 acre property during wind storms and a downpour. It is dangerous. We have lived here 20 years and managed to never get injured by being aware.

    I will never refer this company to anyone. I will indeed tell all our family and friends about this. This company,in my opinon, is unprofessional and incompetent.

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