Esurance Review

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With a company name that brings you back to the days when putting the letter “e” in front of just about anything was a major trend in online services, Esurance was part of the early push to change how insurance is sold.

Although the company has outgrown it’s cartoon-character mascot of the early years, they’re still positioning themselves as the modern alternative to old-school insurance.

Esurance Overview

Founded in 1998, Esurance launched its website in 1999 with the message that buying online was not only the modern thing to do, but also the environmentally friendly choice thanks to paperless policies and billing. The company started out offering policies online in four states, but expanded to eventually write coverage in 40 states.

Esurance was among the first companies to offer both online quoting and quotes from other insurance companies, as its set out to compete with Progressive and GEICO. The company has stayed true to its modern approach to insurance, pushing the green alternative with a fleet of hybrid company cars and supporting environmentally conscious causes such as the “Save a Windshield, Plant a Tree” program in which a tree is planted every time a customer chooses to repair rather than replace a windshield.

They further differentiated themselves in 2004 by being one of the first insurance companies to extend discounts to same-sex couples and openly supporting LGBT causes, among them The Trevor Project.

In 2011, Esurance became a wholly owned subsidiary of Allstate, the nation’s third largest auto insurer. The acquisition did not affect everyday Esurance operations, and the company still maintains headquarters in San Francisco and manages its own policies and claims. The backing of a giant company like Allstate gives Esurance a much more solid financial position while allowing Allstate a better foothold in the online insurance market.

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Esurance Products and Services

Esurance is known mainly for auto insurance, not surprising since that’s the product they have mostly pushed in their advertising. They do, however, offer a fairly wide range of insurance products, some of which are underwritten by other companies.

Auto Insurance

Esurance auto insurance policies cover all of the basics including liability, collision, comprehensive, and medical payments. They also offer a list of other options such as gap coverage for depreciation, roadside assistance, and coverage for customized vehicles and special equipment.

Esurance also offers a lot of different car insurance discounts, from the standard choices to some more unusual ones, including one for switching from another company. Insurance for classic cars is available from a partner company.

Motorcycle Insurance

Esurance writes policies for a variety of different types of motorcycles and scooters, including sport street bikes, custom motorcycles, vintage bikes and mopeds. Among the options available on these policies is trip interruption coverage, unusual on this type of policy. In some states, motorcycle policies are underwritten by a different company.

Off-road Vehicles, RVs and Boats

Esurance insures a variety of toys and adventure vehicles, including dirt bikes, ATVs, travel trailers, motorhomes, and snowmobiles. Esurance does not underwrite its RV or travel trailer policies.

Policies are available for a range of different watercraft types, from fishing boats to jet skis. This coverage provides liability coverage and also protects the craft itself both on and off the water. Boat insurance is not underwritten by Esurance.

Homeowner’s Insurance

Although it’s not nearly as well known, Esurance does write property insurance for a variety of different types of homes. Coverage is available for single-family dwellings and condos as well as renter’s policies to help tenants protect personal property.

Esurance also offers flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program. This coverage is not available in all states, and in some states is underwritten by a different company.

Business Insurance

Esurance partners with BizInsure to provide customers with access to small business insurance policies. These policies are written with a variety of other companies and not underwritten by Esurance.

Commercial auto and some other business policies such as general liability are written through Esurance’s parent company, Allstate.

Life Insurance

Life insurance products, including term and universal, are quoted through a selection of outside companies. Esurance will assist customers with finding quotes and coverage but does not underwrite life policies.

Through a combination of directly underwritten and partner underwritten product offerings, Esurance is able to quote and offer customers assistance with a fairy wide variety of products, larger than one would expect from an online insurance company that is mostly known for auto insurance.

Car Insurance In Depth

Since it’s the number one product sold by Esurance and also the one most likely to bring you in for a quote, we’ll take a closer look at the type of coverage, discounts, and benefits offered by an Esurance auto policy.

Esurance is a relatively small insurance company, not even breaking into the top 25 for auto policies in force, in spite of being owned by the company holding the number three spot. While GEICO and Progressive are seen as the top two competitors for Esurance, both of those companies have a much larger market share, holding the number two and number four spots on the list respectively. Esurance tries to differentiate itself in the auto market in a number of ways including the emphasis on being a “green” company and on personalized polices.

CoverageMyWay

Recently, Esurance launched a new advertising campaign surrounding personalized insurance – coverage that is exactly right for you and not “sorta” right, as the ads put it. CoverageMyWay is the name they’ve given to what they say is an intuitive quoting system that highlights coverage you really need and catches opportunities to save.

Basically, this system is a replacement for what an insurance agent would normally do – ask in-depth questions, analyze insurance needs, and figure out what type of coverage you really need and how to best provide it. In typical Esurance fashion, the point is to provide this service instantly online.

While it sounds a bit like a gimmick, this system does have the benefit of taking some of the guesswork out of choosing coverage options, especially for those who don’t have a good understanding of insurance. It also has the potential to prevent you from missing out on discounts and benefits that you might not otherwise have known about.

The good news is that Esurance isn’t particularly prone to gimmicks, avoiding some of the common trends in insurance add-ons that often cost drivers more than they save, such as parent company Allstate’s Safe Driving Bonus.

Discounts

Esurance offers a long list of discounts, many of which are not seen at other insurance companies, which means there are a lot of ways to reduce premiums.

Some of the discounts are temporary, meant to make switching look tempting. There’s the Fast 5 discount, which gives you 5% off on your first policy term just for going to Esurance. Then there’s the Switch & Save discount, which applies to the first two policy terms when you switch over to Esurance from another company.

The rest of the discounts are more long-term, including common discounts like multi-policy and safe driver, and some less common ones, like:

  • Emergency Roadside Assistance discount, which is given to anyone who carries a roadside assistance plan outside of Esurance, such as AAA
  • Pac-12 discounts for students and alumni of Pac-12 colleges
  • Online Shopper discount, which gives you a discount just for buying online

Not all discounts offered are available in all states, which makes things a little confusing, and some discounts differ from state to state. In Indiana, for example, you can get the Switch & Save discount even if you didn’t switch from another insurance company if you meet specific criteria, such as getting a new policy after a divorce.

DriveSense

Esurance has hopped on the usage-based insurance bandwagon with its own program known as DriveSense.

Like all such systems, it uses a small device plugged into your car that records driving information including speed, how you brake, when you drive, and how far you drive. Drivers can earn a discount based on safe driving habits recorded by the device.

Like most such systems, there is little risk to taking on the device, as Esurance won’t raise rates as a result of the information gathered, just determine how much of a discount you’ll earn.

Recently, however, Progressive has stated that some drivers may in fact see a rate increase on their usage-based system. That’s something to keep in mind for the future of these programs with all insurance companies, as anything one major insurer does tends to spread.

For now, DriveSense is a fairly safe bet for lowering rates, especially if you’re a good driver.

Products Not Underwritten By Esurance

Offering products under a company banner that are actually underwritten somewhere else is a pretty common practice, but it’s important to be aware of what it really means before you buy.

A large number of the products listed on the Esurance website are actually policies written by other companies but being marketed under the Esurance name. This gives the smaller companies exposure and allows Esurance to be more of a one-stop shopping destination for insurance.

Esurance does not underwrite life, health, pet, business, boat, travel trailer, RV, umbrella, classic car, or business policies. In some states they also don’t underwrite motorcycle and homeowner’s. Thus, the actual range of products underwritten by Esurance and for which the company actually handles it’s own policy servicing and claims is somewhat smaller than it appears.

While there is nothing wrong with purchasing insurance through a partner company, it’s important to take the time to research that company thoroughly before you buy. The Esurance website allows customers to obtain quotes for a wide range of products, thus creating a convenient insurance shopping location, but the company isn’t responsible for how partners handle their own policies and claims.

The Esurance Website

Esurance sells the bulk of their policies online, which makes their website an enormous part of the equation.

The front page is clean and not cluttered, and a simple quote box is front and center and easy to access. Dropdown menus offer easy access to product and company information. Claims information is either under the resources tab or located under the quoting box, neither of which is quite prominent enough in my opinion for an online-only insurer.

Once inside the claims section, it’s relatively easy to find the information you need, although I would like to see a more obvious placement of the claims phone number, which is off to the side and labeled customer service rather than claims.

The quoting system is simple and straightforward, with options to either allow the system to fill things out for you, or to enter information manually.

Overall, the website is easy to navigate and provides good information without overwhelming the reader. I found it a little slow to load, but overall it performs well.

Esurance Rates

Since the beginning, Esurance has advertised itself as being a cheaper alternative to traditional insurance companies. This claim is based on their lack of overhead as an online insurer, no commissions for agents, and a paperless system that saves on the cost of policy processing.

Esurance generally lives up to their claims of cheaper rates, especially when compared to companies whose policies are sold through agents. In recent months, however, there have been signs that Esurance won’t be quite so cheap for much longer. Although backed by the solidity of Allstate, Esurance itself is losing money as a result of high claims, and the word is that rates are going to be increasing as a result. Rate increases have already taken place and may continue for some time until premiums catch up with the claims payouts.

The good news is, however, that Allstate is investing heavily in Esurance, and since the company continues to grow it’s likely things will level off.

Esurance has historically offered rates well below the average cost in our rate tests, and these increases aren’t likely to push them too far off base, making them still one of the best values in car insurance.

Advertising and Media

Esurance has come a long way since their initial advertisements featuring a youthful, trendy animated woman going by the name of Erin Esurance sweeping through her exciting undercover life saving people from high insurance rates.

Their most recent advertising campaign launched during the 2015 Super Bowl cemented them as a real competitor in the market – thanks to the backing of Allstate finances, Esurance has moved from animated superheroes to real live superstars. They nabbed Emmy-winner Bryan Cranston to reprise his role as Walter White from Breaking Bad, along with another spot featuring Lindsay Lohan poking fun at her reputation as a bad driver.

The new “sorta you isn’t you” campaign focuses on the insurance needs of individuals and the personalized policies offered by Esurance, while the new slogan “Insurance for the Modern World” continues to push the company as cutting edge.

Esurance sponsors a number of sports events including the U.S. Open and the Pac 12 conference, which explains why they have a special discount for these schools. Their support of charities and causes keeps their name not only out there but generally in a positive light.

Claims

In keeping with their modern approach to insurance, Esurance offers a number of different ways to file a claim, including online, on the phone, and on the go with a mobile app. However, not all options are available for all policy types.

Auto claims are filed via:

Motorcycle, homeowners, and renter’s insurance claims should be filed via the customer service phone number only.

Esurance allows you to follow your claims progress by logging into their online system. The RepairView system allows you to even see the progress of repairs on your car through photos posted by participating shops online.

They also make the handling of minor claims easier with their mobile app which allows uploading of photos and even video chatting with a claims rep to allow them to see the damage, saving everyone the time spent on an in-person inspection.

All of these features make the Esurance claims system one of the most technologically advanced.

Customer Feedback

A review of the complaints filed online against Esurance reveals a few pretty clear trends. First of all, Esurance seems to have a reputation for quoting low and then raising rates, as well as large rate increases on renewal, something that never results in happy customers. It’s unclear, but it may have something to do with their initial set of discounts for switching in the first place.

The repeated refrain from customers posting on ConsumerAffairs.com is that the rates go up either without a reason or in an amount that is disproportionate to the claim or ticket that caused the increase. Some of this might be a result of what I mentioned earlier regarding Esurance’s financial losses and the rate increases as a result.

Other complaints seem to revolve around the customer service at Esurance, with consumers stating repeatedly that reps on the phone seemed to have no idea what they were doing, or that they were rude. When it comes to this type of complaint, it’s always worth mentioning that the mood of the customer making the phone call (especially if they are already upset or angry) can greatly affect how they view the service they receive. That said, the number of complaints about reps failing to explain things properly or not being able to handle questions or problems is concerning, and may be a symptom of call centers staffed by less-than-qualified people.

282 out of 332 ratings done on the Consumer Affairs website are 1 star reviews. I always make a point of noting that far more people review a company when they are angry than when they are satisfied, which tends to skew the numbers on this sort of ratings website. The ratings are 87% 1-star, negative reviews, which is in line with other major insurance companies rated on this site.

The BBB lists 382 complaints against Esurance in the past three years, with 140 closed in the past 12 months. The site notes that the company’s A- rating was affected by one complaint to which they did not respond.

Major competitors GEICO and Progressive both have much higher complaint numbers, but are also much larger companies with more customers, making comparison difficult. Overall, for a company of Esurance’s size, the number of complaints isn’t terribly high.

Bottom Line

Esurance offers good, low insurance rates and a technologically advanced system for both policy processing and claims. With their backing by insurance giant Allstate, they are in a good financial position in spite of losses in recent years due to high claims payments. They are continuing to grow and showing strong signs of stability for the future.

Esurance is likely to be on the list for anyone looking for a low rate with a lot of features and benefits, but without some of the trendy add-ons that show up with other insurance companies. They’re a great choice for anyone who wants to handle most of their insurance needs online at any hour of the day.

People who have complex insurance needs may want to look elsewhere. While Esurance does offer a good range of products, the majority of them are underwritten by other companies, which means not all of your policies are really under one roof.

The company seems to be struggling a bit with keeping happy customers when it comes to premium increases and claims. As Allstate pours more money into it’s recent acquisition, some of these issues may iron themselves out – however, there does appear to be some work to do in the claims department. Overall, Esurance is a good example of a direct-buy company that meets expectations of low rates and easy access.
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Review Information

Summary
Reviewer
Eric Stauffer
Review Date
Reviewed
Esurance
Author Rating
4

Comments

  1. Tanjere Shuler says

    Please do not be fooled by the initial appeal of low rates. I made that mistake and it cost me so much more than money, I spent hours on the phone with incompetant customer service reps, rude managers, and the DMV. Stick with the larger companies that do the basic things well even if that does come with a slightly higher price tag. Needless to say I’ll be back with Geico very shortly

  2. Scooter says

    Called and spoke with rep about a quotes, he gave me a price and when I called back they said a totally different price $180.00 more a month. They said they listened to recording and he never said that price. Basically called me a liar.

    NEVER USE THIS COMPANY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THEY WILL TELL YOU ANYTHING TO TRY TO GET YOUR MONEY!!

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