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PEMCO, which stands for Public Employees Mutual Insurance Company, was founded in Seattle, Washington in 1950 as a liability company to work with PEMIC, a casualty insurer founded the year before. Both companies were offshoots of the School Employee’s Credit Union of Washington, and were originally created to serve credit union members. In 1977, PEMIC and PEMCO merged into one property & casualty insurer.
PEMCO today is the largest regional personal lines insurance company in the Northwest, and policies are open to the general public in both Washington and Oregon. They are still affiliated with the credit union, but no longer limit products to members.
PEMCO writes a range of insurance products including the basics like auto insurance and home insurance as well as specialty products. Policies are sold through agents located across both covered states.
The company positions itself as the insurer that “gets” the people of the Northwest, poking fun at the reputation of Northwesterners as a little quirky, with the slogan “We’re like you. A little different”. They are generally considered to be a preferred-risk insurance company, meaning they are most likely to be competitive for those with clean records.
PEMCO writes a good range of personal lines products, with all of the basics and some specialty products. Notably absent from their lineup is life insurance.
Auto insurance is one of PEMCO’s biggest products. Offering all of the standard coverage for liability and basic options including comprehensive, collision, towing and labor, and rental reimbursement.
PEMCO has a good range of discounts, some of which are unusual, including the Alternative Commuting discount, which reduces rates for drivers who don’t drive to work every day of the week. They also have an affinity discount for University of Washington alumni and an educator’s discount as well.
PEMCO’s auto insurance program is fairy straightforward with little in the way of the gimmicks that are commonly seen with large insurance companies.
PEMCO writes a range of home insurance policies, including coverage for standard single-family homes and for condos. These policies include coverage for the structure based on the type of home, personal property coverage, and liability as well.
PEMCO also writes renter’s insurance, which provides coverage for personal property while living in a rental home or apartment.
Each of these policies has a list of available discounts, including both the educator’s discount and the affinity discount for U of W. There is also an auto/home discount available for those who insure both with PEMCO.
PEMCO also writes Earthquake insurance policies.
Specialty Vehicle Insurance
In addition to cars and trucks, PEMCO insures a variety of specialty vehicles, such as:
- Motorcycles and scooters
- RVs and travel trailers
- Classic and antique cars
Extended liability of up to $3 million is available through PEMCO umbrella insurance policies to provide coverage above and beyond the limits of the underlying auto and home policies.
Because PEMCO is a regional insurer covering only two states, it is difficult to provide rate comparisons on a national level. Online quoting is available, but is a complex process that involves entering your social security number, something that might make some people uncomfortable.
PEMCO has a reputation as a preferred-risk insurer, which means they are not likely to provide competitive rates for those with tickets, accidents, or recent claims. They are most likely to provide good rates to low-risk drivers and homeowners.
As an agent-driven insurer, PEMCO’s rates are also likely to see an increase as a result of the need to pay commissions.
PEMCO has 24/7 claims service available through a toll-free claims phone number. Their claims system is straightforward, and they offer their TimeSaver repair program, which uses approved shops to work directly with PEMCO and allow for claims to be complete quickly. Customers may also choose to have repairs done in any shop of their choosing.
The website offers a clear an easy to follow explanation of each type of possible claim, what to do, and what to expect. Claims contact information is readily available. There is no option for filing a claim online, although the website does have a customer portal. There is no clear information on what is accessed through the sign-in page in terms of claims information.
PEMCO is not BBB accredited, but has been given an A+ rating based on the BBB’s multi-factor system. There are only two complaints lodged against the company in the past three years, and not a single one in the past 12 months. For a large regional insurer, those numbers are definitely impressive.
Customer reviews elsewhere are mixed, with a blend of very happy longtime customers and people who have had poor experiences with rate increases, slow claims handling, and poor customer service.
Overall, complaints against PEMCO appear to be of the same variety seen with nearly every insurance company – misunderstandings about coverage. It’s encouraging to see that PEMCO does appear to respond to and attempt to rectify complaints, which is not always the case with insurance companies.
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If you live in Washington or Oregon and have a clean record, PEMCO is probably worth considering. They have a solid reputation, a good range of products, and don’t rely much on gimmicks. For anyone who has tickets or accidents, however, PEMCO is not likely to offer very competitive rates, and these drivers are likely to do better elsewhere.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.