UPDATED: Mar 18, 2020
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Sutter Insurance was founded in 1975 in Petaluma, California and is currently licensed in their home state along with Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. They are an admitted carrier in all four states, although the majority of their business is in California.
Their main focus is on commercial auto insurance, including heavy truck insurance, and they do not offer any other commercial products. On the personal lines side, the opposite is true; the company does not write personal auto insurance but does offer a range of homeowner’s insurance products. Those products are mainly aimed at the non-standard market.
Sutter sells its products through independent agents across the four states it serves, and still has its headquarters in Petaluma.
Sutter’s two product lines are commercial auto with a focus on trucking and non-standard home insurance. The company website does not include any details on these policies and provides only a basic overview.
Sutter’s Heavy Truck Liability Program is focused on long-haul interstate trucking across Western America, although the company also writes policies for local trucking. Coverage is available for single trucks up to large fleets of 100+. The company does not write coverage for new ventures or high-risk operators such as those with a poor driving record or that are inexperienced.
In California, Sutter offers a physical damage only policy that is designed for vehicles that have liability covered under a separate policy – this usually applies to owner-operators driving on behalf of a company. A variety of vehicle type and driver record can be insured under this program.
A Business Auto program is also offered to insure a variety of vehicles that are owned by a company or used in the course of business activities. Light and medium vehicles operating in a 300-mile radius can be insured. This product is offered only in California.
Sutter offers several levels of homeowner’s insurance, all of which are geared towards homes that do not qualify for coverage on the standard market.
The HO-3 program has the highest standards, in spite of allowing risks that do not qualify with other companies. It provides coverage on a replacement cost basis, which can be harder to find in the non-standard market. Coverage is offered for homes that are older but have been updated, homes with risks like swimming pools, and for homeowners with previous losses that have resulted in non-renewals. This program covers homes ranging in value from $75,000 to over $1 million.
The HO-8 program is for homes that are of a lower value, ranging from $50,000 to $300,000 and above. This program insures homes that do not qualify for the HO-3 program due to needed upgrades, architectural style, or other issues. This policy is an actual cash value program.
The Dwelling Fire, or DP-1, program is offered to homes that cannot be covered on the HO programs. These include rental homes, seasonal or vacant homes, or homes that are in need of renovations or repairs.
Sutter also offers a stand-alone Personal Liability option that is available to owner-occupied homes. Inland Marine coverage for high-value items is also listed on the programs page.
Online quoting for Sutter’s policies is not offered, which is common for a specialty insurance company. Quotes can be obtained from an agent, which will make them more accurate.
As a non-standard insurance company, we do not expect Sutter’s home insurance rates to compete with the big companies offering standard coverage. Homes that do not qualify for standard insurance are almost always more expensive to insure. Their rates can only be fairly compared to other non-standard insurers.
Sutter Insurance has a toll-free claim line, but it does not state if this line is open 24/7. The bottom of the page does list business hours for the main office, and it appears likely that the claim reporting line is only open during this hours, 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
With both auto and home insurance policies, emergency claims are common so we would hope that Sutter provides its policyholders with an after-hours option for reporting. This may be provided with the policy, but if not it is definitely a matter of concern.
The website also has claims forms available for download and provides fax, email, and mailing addresses for submitting them. There is little information or instruction in regards to the claims process.
Ratings and Consumer Reviews
Sutter Insurance is not accredited, nor do they have a rating, on the Better Business Bureau (BBB). This is due to a lack of verified information, and it is a little unusual for a company that has been around for more than 40 years. There are no complaints or reviews on the file, either.
There are two one-star reviews of Sutter on Google. Both are short comments and do not describe the specific problem the writer had with the company.
Aside from these, there are no other customer comments or complaints that we could locate, adding up to a very limited look at the company’s reputation. We usually consider a lack of reviews to lean in the company’s favor since unhappy customers are more likely to leave reviews than are those that are satisfied with their service.
The Bottom Line
Sutter may be a good choice for the type of specialty insurance they provide, but due to a lack of information, it is difficult to provide a recommendation one way or the other. It is likely that most of their business comes in through agent sales, and an agent would be the best source of further information on this company for those seeking either commercial auto or non-standard home insurance in their coverage area.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.