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About Donegal Insurance
Donegal was started by a group of farmers in Marietta, Pennsylvania, as a mutual company designed to provide protection for homes and farms. It was originally known as Donegal and Conoy Mutual Fire Insurance Company and began operations in 1889.
In 1949 the company shortened its name to Donegal Mutual Insurance Company and began expanding their lineup beyond fire insurance with the addition of auto insurance. The 1970s and the following decades saw the company acquiring other companies and expanding into other states. Operating in Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia in addition to their home state, Donegal formed a holding company in 1986, Donegal Group Inc., and went public.
Donegal today serves 20 states through a group of companies and independent agents operating in those states. In addition to their Marietta headquarters, they have branch offices in seven other states. The group’s companies include:
- Donegal Mutual Insurance Company
- Atlantic States Insurance Company
- Southern Insurance Company of Virginia
- Le Mars Insurance Company
- Peninsula Insurance Company
- Peninsula Indemnity Company
- Sheboygan Falls Insurance Company
- Southern Mutual Insurance Company
- Michigan Insurance Company
- Mountain States Commercial Insurance Company
- Mountain States Indemnity Company
Donegal writes both personal lines and business insurance policies, with options varying by state. One of Donegal’s subsidiaries, Conestoga Insurance, writes title insurance.
Donegal’s products differ by state, where they may be underwritten by any of the companies in the group. They write a basic line of personal insurance products along with business and farm insurance packages. Information on the products found on the company website is limited to general overviews.
Donegal’s home insurance policy is a standard package, covering the dwelling, your personal property, liability, and loss of use. Coverage options can be added on to customize the policy. These include extended replacement cost coverage for the home, replacement cost coverage on your personal property, identity theft coverage, and riders for high-value items.
A Dwelling Fire product is also available from Donegal. This policy is designed for rental homes as well as for owner-occupied homes that do not qualify for a homeowner’s policy; this is usually due to factors such as age, condition, or seasonal occupancy.
Donegal’s auto program appears to be as basic and straightforward as the home program. Coverage includes all of the basics of required state minimums and common options – comprehensive coverage, collision coverage, roadside assistance, and rental car coverage.
Donegal does offer first accident forgiveness, a fairly common extra found at many large auto insurance companies. They also promise a high threshold for chargeable accidents – which means only accidents with a cost over that threshold will result in a rate increase.
A number of common discounts are available, including good student, good driver, and discounts for insuring more than one car or bundling your auto and home insurance with the company.
As with the home insurance, coverage varies by state.
Boat Owners insurance
Donegal writes coverage for a variety of boat types, with protection for the boat itself as well as contents and the trailer. It also offers liability and options like emergency towing and replacement cost coverage for the boat.
A credit is offered on boat policies when Donegal also insures the home.
The site does not list what the coverage limits are, but Donegal offers a personal umbrella policy that provides additional liability coverage above and beyond the limits of the underlying policies. It can cover you for additional liability on your home, auto, and boat policies.
Donegal’s commercial insurance products are comprehensive and offer both packages and a la carte options to create a policy that meets the needs of any business.
The Business Owner’s Package (BOP) is available as a standard package or as a BOP Select plan, which is designed for businesses with more specialized coverage needs. This package policy includes all of the basic coverage any business needs along with customized options.
Donegal also has a commercial package policy, a flexible and customizable package that is offered to businesses that do not fit into the BOP categories.
Among the various coverage options are:
- Contractor’s Insurance
- Commercial Auto
- Commercial Umbrella
- Garage Insurance
- Worker’s Compensation
- Employment Practices Liability
- Liquor Liability
- Contractor’s Errors and Omissions
- Loss Control Services
- Group Programs
Farm insurance is Donegal’s original product, and they continue to write package policies for a variety of different farming operations.
Coverage includes the home and any farm structures, farm equipment, livestock and crops, and liability. A specialty policy is available for dairy farmers as well. Donegal even has an umbrella policy specifically for farms.
Donegal does not offer any online quoting, which is expected given the fact that they are a group of companies with varied rates and coverage options and that policies are sold through independent agents.
The website offers an agent locator that uses a zip code search to point visitors in the direction of a local agent who can provide them with quotes.
Claim reporting appears to be centralized for Donegal Group companies. There are two main options for reporting a claim: a 24/7 toll-free claims line, and an online form that can be used only when logged in as a customer.
There is also a separate claims phone number for auto glass claims, which uses the company’s EZ Glass claims service. Glass claims can also be reported online through a separate online system.
An inquiry form is provided on the website to submit questions about an existing claim; there is no need to be logged into the system in order to use it. There is also a variety of local phone numbers in addition to the toll-free line that can be used for questions about a claim.
Donegal’s website does not provide more than contact information for claims. There is no information regarding the process and what to expect throughout that process. It is, however easy to locate claims contact information, and it appears that once logged in an existing customer can view more claims information than is offered to the general public.
Ratings and Consumer Reviews
Donegal Insurance Group has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), with only one complaint on file in the past three years. The one customer review is a glowing five-star recommendation.
Donegal Mutual Insurance Company, the main subsidiary of the holding company, has an A- rating with the BBB, which is due to failure to respond to one of the seven complaints filed against the business.
There are six reviews on Yelp for Donegal Group, with an overall three-star rating, which indicates a mix of positive and negative. There are a couple of highly positive reviews citing an excellent claims process, and several reviews with an opposing view.
Since Donegal is a group of companies, the ratings and reputations of each of the underlying companies may vary from what is seen with the holding company or Donegal Mutual itself, but in general, there appears to be a very low complaint volume.
The Bottom Line
Donegal appears to have a good reputation and a solid, if basic, list of products. For those that are seeking an alternative to the huge insurance companies and prefer to work with a local agent, they and their group of companies may be worth a closer look. Without rates, we are unable to speak to the value offered by Donegal, but as with all companies, it is the total package that each customer should look at when making an insurance purchase.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.