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The General Summary
The General was founded in 1963 as Permanent General Agency, and later sold products as Permanent General Assurance Corporation (PGAC). In 1997 the name The General came into use, although the company remains officially PGAC. The following year, American Family Insurance acquired The General, although they continue to operate as a separate company. The company is currently headquartered out of Nashville, Tennessee.
Policies are sold directly over the phone and online, as well as through independent agents across the country. There are several service centers in other states, but not in all covered areas.
The General writes mainly auto insurance, and offers policies to drivers who have had trouble obtaining coverage elsewhere, due to matters such as:
- Traffic tickets
- Credit issues
The company also markets itself towards budget insurance shoppers, offering low down payments and affordable billing options.
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The General’s main product is auto insurance, and more specifically non-standard auto insurance. They also offer renter’s insurance, although it is not as well known since the company does not really advertise it heavily.
The General writes a lot of basic auto insurance policies, including liability-only. This is due to the fact that their target markets are high-risk drivers who are generally in need of basic coverage they can afford.
The General does also offer full coverage policies with comprehensive and collision. There is very little detail on the website in regards to policy options, and the company does not appear to offer much in the way of add-ons or added features.
The website also lacks information regarding available discounts on auto insurance policies, although it does state that there is a paid in full discount. There is no sign of any of the more common trends in auto insurance such as accident forgiveness, although again, that’s not surprising considering the target market for The General auto insurance.
The General offers renter’s insurance as a named perils policy – meaning it covers losses only from a specific list of causes.
Coverage includes personal property and liability, and there are optional riders available for high-value items and other options. Personal property coverage ranges from $15,000 to $100,000, and liability starts at $100,000. $1,000 in medical payments coverage is also included in the basic policy.
The company’s website does not state whether or not The General offers a bundling discount for auto and renters.
The General’s rates are designed for those who are considered high-risk drivers, and as a result, rates are not necessarily meant to be competitive with major standard insurance companies. Rates are likely to be on the high side for a driver with a clean record, but for those seeking non-standard insurance they may be more competitive.
The General does offer low down payments – slightly more than one monthly payment, likely due to a small new policy fee. That is less than some companies require to get a policy started.
The online quoting system is simple and straightforward, however, it does not provide any information in terms of what level of coverage is being quoted. This makes it difficult to compare their rate quotes to other companies. Without knowing what level of coverage and what options might be included in the quote, it is impossible to make an apples-to-apples comparison with other companies. More detailed quoting is likely available over the phone, or through an agent.
The General has a 24-hour toll-free line: 1-800-280-1466 for claims reporting, but no online option at this time. This is a bit surprising for a company that does online quoting and policy purchasing, and is something most insurance customers expect today.
The website is once again lacking in any sort of detailed information when it comes to claims. There is nothing about the process, although the site does provide a list of things policyholders should do in the event of an accident.
The General’s customer portal, which can be used for policy management, does not appear to offer any claims status updates.
The General, under Permanent General Companies, Inc., is BBB accredited and has been since 2005. The website gives the company an A+ rating. There are a total of 176 complaints against the company in the past three years, with 64 of those complaints closed in the past 12 months. Those numbers are a little high, but not alarming for a company of this size. There are no government actions or other major problems listed.
ConsumerAffairs.com has a total of 245 reviews of The General, with 56 star ratings, all of which are one-star reviews. Most of the complaints are related to claims and billing issues, with many stating that the company is unresponsive and has poor customer service.
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The General is not worth considering for drivers without high-risk issues, as their rates are not intended to be competitive for the general market. With a less than informative website, it is difficult to obtain a clear picture of what their products or services are or really cover. It is also difficult to determine how competitive rates are, even for non-standard drivers. This is due to the fact that the quoting system provides no information regarding the coverage and limits being quoted.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.