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The General Auto Insurance Review

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Eric Stauffer is a former insurance agent and banker turned consumer advocate. His priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best...

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UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018

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The General Insurance
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The General specializes in high-risk drivers while promising affordable rates, a combination that can be difficult to find. The company’s memorable mascot and lively commercials make them a recognizable brand among non-standard insurers.

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
  • Accidents
  • Credit issues

The company also markets itself towards budget insurance shoppers, offering low down payments and affordable billing options.

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Insurance Products

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.

Auto Insurance

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.

Renters 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 Rates

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.

Claims

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.

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Consumer Research and Complaints

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.

Financial Strength

Rating Company Grade Financial Outlook
AM Best A- Stable
Fitch N/A N/A
S&P N/A N/A

Bottom Line

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.

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Review Information

Summary
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The General Auto Insurance
Author Rating
21star1stargraygraygray

About Eric Stauffer

Author: Eric StaufferI am a former insurance agent and banker turned consumer advocate. My priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best place to get it.

29 Comments

  1. A car insurance by this company ran into my house destroying my whole fence, gates, mailbox and damaged my car and two other properties.

    I got in contact with them and explain the situation because I have cameras in my house, everything was caught on video into this day is excuses after excuses.

    Estimates were sent; they said they were waiting on a rental property.

    Now the property sent there estimate now after two months they said that they have to send another inspector to check the property because they put the wrong addresses.

    The estimates clearly showed the address is there.

    This insurance company is just a bunch of Bologna.

    Reply
  2. I was very pleased to uncover this web site.

    I need to to thank you for one’s time just for this fantastic read!!

    I definitely loved every bit of it and I also have you bookmarked to look at new information in your site.

    Reply
  3. I have been with The General for a year and a half now, paying all the premiums religiously. I recently hit a curb when turning into a parking lot, damaging a transfer case. They refused to cover, saying that it is a mechanical issue, and not caused by the impact.
    This company is a fraud. Stay away from them, go somewhere else. They will find ways to deny your claim.

    Reply
  4. So I canceled my insurance on 9/14/2018, I paid $491 I canceled the same day after I made the payment because I found cheaper insurance. Within the same day of my cancelation, the General said they couldn’t give me my money back. When I called, the agent was very rude and said I wouldn’t get my money back and that I owed $28 to them still. They said that it was my balance after cancelation. What should I do and who should I contact to get my $491 back?

    Reply
    • Call your state department of insurance, the federal government, and the BBB and if you’re in AZ call [Redacted], [Redacted] will get your money back on National TV!

      I have requested the SR22 filing online and in person for 3 months. They could not understand what happened and I can’t understand why I had to pay extra money to the live agent for the SR22 filing, they have half of my California DL# and the other half is half of my AZ DL #. I now lost my position in a school for truck driver training, lost my license-suspended for not having the filing, and right back where I started before we got The General in the first place. I’m calling and contacting the local news and every organization that will bring out the truth about them.. Its included in the new lawsuit!

      Reply
  5. STAY AWAY FROM THIS “COMPANY” THEY ARE CROOKS! If you do make the mistake of choosing them and have a claim then by all means if you are given [Redacted] as an adjuster or [Redacted] then ask for another adjuster ASAP!

    My car was blown up by someone who has not been arrested yet. It has been 2 months and the general has not finished the claim still! I have asked them many times to give me another adjustment or to have another person look at it because I purchased a car a year ago for 31k and they are estimating the value at 18k which is way too low. They won’t prove that they have my actual model number which is the souped-up version with 6 grand in added equipment compared to the basic version of my model. (2016 optima EX) They refuse to do another adjustment, they refuse to fix my bill as they said they would by my due date which was the (17th of July) and now it has not been done and I am over a week late because they will not adjust it to the amount it should be without my car on it. They refuse to pay me for my car seat involved because it doesn’t (look damaged in the photo I sent) they are acting like they don’t know it’s illegal to ever be used in a car again. My wife’s car was never to be removed and they did it without my permission and they would not add it without increasing my bill. They then gave me an SR22 proving its back on but my policy states it’s still not on there. Also, I emailed them on the 16th of July demanding to close my policy because of this incident and they told me they are not letting me go until I prove I have other coverage. Is this something you can help with? It is beyond frustrating. I have also sent MANY MANY emails to my adjuster with ZERO help and ZERO replies. She’s ignoring everything I’ve said above and now refuses to give me her supervisors name or number or email. Also, she was supposed to contact my finance company to settle an amount on the car and it’s been over 2 weeks with her refusing to do so, now dinging my credit and my co-signers. I’m flabbergasted by this awful behavior and I need help pursuing legal action against them.

    Reply
  6. It’s all fun and games and think you’re getting a good deal til you’re actually sitting on the side of the road with flat tire in 90 degrees heat, 7pm at night, late for someplace you’re supposed to be at, and this clown-[redacted[ bulls*** company after 40 minutes on hold tells you too bad… yes you purchased roadside assistance for towing coverage but it only covers you if you’re in an accident… not a flat tire. What?? Then gave me 3 different customer service numbers to call a 3rd party company if I wanted an exception. It was much quicker to just call a tow company any pay it out of pocket than spend 2 hours on the phone on side of the road stranded far from home and it’s getting dark. Worst company ever and guilty of fraud.

    Reply
  7. I am not a high-risk driver but I live in Colorado and Colorado has some of the highest insurance rates in the nation. I’m a middle-aged woman and had precious insurance with Progressive and State Farm. The General premiums were half the cost of these 2 insurance companies. Recently I had to make 2 claims due to a hail storm. One vehicle was totaled and the other had over $5000 in damage. [Redacted] and [Redacted] professionalism was hands down the best! I filed my claim and the SAME DAY my 2 claims were dealt with. They made these claims painless and they were executed within and above my expectations timely manner. Most other insurance companies take months sometimes up to 7 months to have a conclusion on a hail damage claim. The General Insurance took 2 days. Thank you so much for the extremely speedy service!!!!!

    Reply
    • I honestly have no words to express how bad this company is!!

      Reply
      • One of the General’s insured pulled out in front of us,& we ran right into her! That was June 8, 2018, it took them until Sept 24 to fix our SUV,& they refuse to pay for the rental car!!! [Redacted] said it should’ve only taken 3 days to fix, but the whole front end had to be repaired! She had no idea how long it takes to repair a vehicle,& this is the worst company in the world!!!!
        I’m telling my friends NOT TO GO with this company!!
        It’s now October 23,& they STILL won’t pay the rental car bill!
        Horrible horrible company!!!
        She didn’t answer emails in a timely manner,& acted like she didn’t know squat about anything, she should be replaced immediately!!!

        Reply
  8. I would give them no stars if I could. This company is horrible. I and my husband went to change our insurance from our separate policies into a combined policy and signed up with them on June 8th. We were offered a better-combined rate to stay with Geico so we faxed in cancellation on the 11th three days into the policy after paying original $90 to sign up. We called to see if there would be a refund, and got a big Fat NO!! Apparently, in the fine print, they keep 10% of your original premium which was $67 then charged us another $15 to process that and the remaining $7 was applied to the three days we actually had a policy!! Make [redacted] sure to read the fine print on this policy before buying. We basically paid $90 for three days worth of insurance.

    Reply
  9. I canceled my insurance through the general today (05/15/2018) because I found something way cheaper.
    My auto-pay for $494.41 was taken out of my credit card on 05/11/2018. They said I have a refund of $148.02 for
    only the 4 days. They are charging fees which I have never heard of and neither has my new insurance agent. What is a ”
    short rate cancel fee”. They charged me $203.63 for that alone. WHAT A SCAM! I’M VERY UPSET ABOUT THIS.
    THE THING IS I USED TO RECOMMEND THE GENERAL TO EVERYONE. !!!!!! WHAT A SCAM!!!!!

    Reply
  10. I was involved in a hit and run on 2/8/2018. The person who hit me took off speeding, but luckily I got the license plate #. The police were able to contact him and he admitted hitting me. I didn’t file charges against him (now I think I should have) because I just needed his insurance information. Turned out that his insurance is The General.

    I’ve been trying to call their claim department since yesterday but was unable to talk to anyone. Now I’ve been on hold for almost 30 minutes. I hope they will pay for the damaged done to my car.

    I will post a follow up in a few days, including the policyholder name (the person who hit me and ran), and his policy # if they don’t want to pay for the repair.

    Reply
    • This is to follow-up on my post. I was finally able to talk to someone at the claim department after patiently holding for about 40 minutes. The process was OK, and I was going to give this company a 4-star rating, but things turned sour after that.

      It’s been almost three weeks and they still refuse to repair my car because “we have not been able to get a hold of the insured.” DUH…. What part of HIT AND RUN don’t they understand?

      How in the world do they think I can get the insured’s name, DOB, address, and policy #? Those turkeys at the claim department have no common sense.

      Reply
      • This is to follow-up on my post. Three weeks and a couple of days later I finally received a word from my adjuster telling me that the insured admitted to hitting me. He gave me the estimate, which is a fair estimate. I received the check in the mail a few days later.

        Overall I would give this company a 3 and a half stars. I deduct half a star for having to wait about 40 minutes to talk to a claim representative. One star for the long waiting period to settle the claim.

        Reply
  11. I was in an automobile accident on 12/27/17. Hit in a parking lot by a girl doing about 50, insured by Permanent General. The accident was 100% her fault as admitted by everybody involved. I submitted a claim to her insurance company and was given an adjusted named {Redacted]. Permanent General then proceeded to have my car towed to a salvage yard one hour and 20 minutes away from where it was. This company [Redacted] lost my only set of car keys. This lost keys delayed my auto body shop from estimating my vehicle. A new set of keys had to be created and a locksmith had to re-key my car. The General had the nerve to blame this delay on the auto body shop and ordered me to return my rental car before any repairs were even authorized to be completed. I left 3 voicemail messages for [Redacted]’s supervisor [Redacted] in regards to needing a rental vehicle until my vehicle was repaired. She did not return one of my phone calls. I did not get to speak to her until I called the claims line and refused to be put into voicemail and held for 25 minutes. Her response was to bad for me. Again they went back and forth on repairs until Friday 1/26, 30 days after my accident, when [Redacted] stated that they would not be paying any repairs and I would have to subjugate through my insurance company. Do not use this company for your insurance. Go through Statefarm, Geico, one of the real insurance companies. This is the worst company I have ever dealt with, horrible customer service and these people just do not care. If you get jerked around from this company as I have, submit a complaint through the BBB and through Division of Finance. Maybe with enough complaints, we can put this company out of business. I have now filed a claim with my insurance company.

    Reply
  12. This insurance company should be labeled “SCAM”. My daughter has full coverage but when she tried to file a claim last week she was told she would have to pay for the repairs on her car herself because she didn’t have the license number of the hit and run driver that struck her. Because she applied online she doesn’t have collision insurance or some such crap. My advice “STAY AWAY FROM THE GENERAL”.

    Reply
  13. This company is full of incompetent people. We called them to ask what we need to do to have our insurance renewed, their “worker” said that we don’t need to do anything that because we have automatical payment set up, everything will be done automatically. After two weeks we get notification from MVA to confirm our insurance and to find out that they insurance was not renewed even thought they said they will. When we called them again to ask for explanation all they said that they are sorry that they can not do anything for us. Long story short
    … STAY AWAY from them.

    Reply
  14. Complete scam – not only is the insurance complete junk (impossible to contact, slow response, claims denied) but they also sell your email address and phone number to a bunch of other scam artists. I bought a policy for my wife using my cell phone as the contact number. I get 6 to 10 calls a week on my cell asking for my wife. I have never used my wife’s name with that phone number – obviously, the calls originate from the [redacted] General.

    STAY AWAY – DON’T EVEN REQUEST A QUOTE

    Reply
  15. Stay away from The General! They are denying paying for my claim, even though I have video proof of there insured running into me! Told me there insured should of of paid attention and not ran into me!!! This company is a joke and are just taking people premiums and not paying out on claims! Looks like this is common practice for these guys! Now off to court! Shaq really let me down on this one!

    Reply
  16. DECEPTIVE BUSINESS PRACTICES BY THE GENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY

    I just contacted customer service and advised them I received a quote in my email with my down payment and monthly payment information. When the actual policy completed, it was higher than the quoted amount and was told that the “system” takes additional steps which could change/alter the quote provided – SERIOUSLY?!

    The quote provided is what I should be paying – period…the end. To be told that the system has to process other elements which could alter the quote was not disclosed and this type of deceptive business practice is unacceptable!

    This company WILL take advantage of anyone and I urge all potential customers to exercise other options!

    Reply
  17. I was hit by a General Insurance client. I had to get a rental car because they hit my car so hard, it was out of commission for a month. They covered the 1,000 deductible, and only $600.00 of a $2,000 car rental. Their vehicle wasn’t even driven by the owner. They refused to cover my full rental car due to their client’s negligence.

    If they don’t cover their clients accidents, I would stay as far away from General Insurance as I possibly could. They also stalled everything, taking nearly 4 months to tell us this. They additionally sent the paperwork to us to sign before sending it to our insurance company as they stated they would. Stay away!

    Reply
  18. I was hit and injured by a person who has the general, and the person was at fault the police even gave a ticket to the person.
    But the general refuses to pay for damages, knowing that the person was at fault. They won’t call you back. They send random contractors out. They do everything in there power to not pay for the damage, even if their claimant is clearly in the wrong. They will keep saying its pending. Knowing they have the information to proceed. Representatives are very rude. They will try everything to make you be liable. I was left without a car and having to fight hard just to get repairs.
    I definitely wouldn’t recommend them.

    Reply
  19. Crooks demanding I pay for expired Auto Insurance when I have clicked the cancel my policy button because I found a cheaper yet better insurance company. I call the representative, they said it’s not showing up in our system and they demand I pay $30 or take a hit on my credit score???? [Redacted]!!! I recommend Adriana’s insurance for what you are paying here at least they offer uninsured motorist

    Reply
  20. The General apparently sells your e-mail to every company in the world.

    Within 5 minutes of contacting them we have been flooded with all kinds of e-mail. Some days as many as 150. We never had this problem prior to contacting them.

    Reply
  21. The General Insurance Co. advertises their customer service is rated highly…. WRONG – one of their insured vehicle was driven by a drunk driver… left the road way, crossed over on coming traffic, crashed into my parked car, taken to jail by sheriff’s, police report taken. They did nothing to track down their insured to get a report. They would do nothing without a statement from their insured…I personally had to go find their insured which was not hard… I drove to their home. I took with me a document and ask the insured to sign which stated she knew the insured vehicle was driven by her friend, and that she felt her insurance co should honor her policy. Then needless to say had to fight them tooth and nail to get them to pay the claim to replace my car as it was totaled.

    Reply
  22. AS A customer who happens to have had the general for over ten years with 2 step daughters and a significant other who like to like to either use their vehicles as demo derby or partake in DUI’s
    I can say from experience that I’ve never had any problems with the general either in processing claims getting help or any type of corespondance. To me if you want a dependable quality insurance without the bs go general

    Reply
    • I wish that happened to me. It’s been 2 months and they REFUSE to pay me for my car seat, or my registration fees, and they won’t prove they have the right model and are trying to lowball me by 6 grand under what it’s worth and refuse to give me a second adjustment and are ignoring every email I send! They have given me 3 adjusters and also refuse to let me speak to a supervisor! They also removed my wife’s car without permission, won’t cancel my policy, and won’t retroactivate the bill for the date that SOMEONE BLEW MY CAR UP WITH A BOMB! I’m livid and I’m begging you all to STAY AWAY FROM THIS GOD AWFUL COMPANY! I’m pursuing legal action and they deserve to be out of business!

      Reply
  23. My daughters parked car was hit, from a claimant from General who failed to report it. It took approximately 20 phone calls and multiple emails and texts to get the ball moving to get a claim submitted. After the car was looked at by an adjuster a estimate was submitted. After reviewing the estimate General slashed the estimate in half ( took off $1,100 dollars). They attempted to use sub-standard parts to make the repair. Needless to say this was by far the worst experience that I have ever had with an insurance company. I pray that I never have to deal with General again. Signed , an extremely frustrated and irritated car owner. This was truly a hellish experience!

    Reply

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