Auto-Owners is a high-performing insurance company that focuses on providing low rates for good drivers and personalized customer service. Insurance from Auto-Owners is exclusively available through independent agents, and it can't be purchased from the company directly. However, the company still has a few modern advantages, such as a smartphone-based driver safety rating program that can lead to significant discounts for the safest drivers.
Auto-Owners Insurance: Our Thoughts
In many respects, Auto-Owners Insurance is an old-fashioned company. The only way to purchase insurance from it is through an independent agent who lives and works in your area, and most of the interaction you have with the company will be through that agent, not online.
For those who prefer a close relationship with an insurance agent, this works out to be a strong plus: If you ever have questions about your policy or need to make a claim, the person on the other end of the line will know your name and the exact details of your policy. And this structure works out to mean highly rated customer service. The company routinely tops the rankings for claims service and customer interaction.
On the other hand, people who prefer to buy and manage their insurance online may want to look at other options, since it's not even possible to get a quote online—you have to contact an agent.
Rates from Auto-Owners are very competitive. A common concern people have when working with an insurance agent is the possibility of high premiums, since there is a "middle man" you have to pay. But Auto-Owners' rates compared well with other auto insurance companies, so this shouldn't be an issue for potential customers.
The biggest downside to Auto-Owners is that it's not available nationwide: The company currently operates in just 26 states, despite being founded over a century ago in Lansing, Michigan. So you'll only be able to buy insurance from the company if you live in one of the following states:
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
However, for customers eligible to buy coverage, Auto-Owners has another strong benefit worth noting: Its extreme dependability. The company consistently receives the best possible financial ratings, indicating a high level of fiscal responsibility and suggesting it will be around to insure its customers for a long time to come.
Though Auto-Owners matches many of the most popular discounts and coverage options, it does not offer many unique choices. If you have special coverage needs or might be able to find a great discount elsewhere—like if you're in the military— it may be worth it to shop around before committing to Auto-Owners Insurance.
Auto-Owners' car insurance is a great choice for customers who want great rates and exceptional customer service and aren't as concerned about extras, such as the ability to do everything online or lots of coverage add-ons.
Auto-Owners Customer Service
The standout benefit of choosing Auto-Owners for your car insurance is having a one-on-one relationship with a local independent agent who is intimately familiar with the laws and insurance requirements in your area. While your experience with a particular independent insurance agent can vary, Auto-Owners' customer service routinely gets high marks from its customers. You should feel reasonably confident you'll get gracious treatment when working with Auto-Owners.
Auto-Owners also offers most of the standard customer service options that are available from major insurers, including online billing and account access, a mobile app, and 24-hour claims service (there is a 24-hour hotline for when your agent is unavailable).
However, many major policy-related actions, such as making a claim, changing your policy or canceling your insurance altogether can't be done online; you have to do them through your agent. So customers who prefer to minimize how often they have to speak to a person to manage their car insurance may want to consider other carriers first.
Coverages and Features
Auto-Owners Insurance provides all the standard and optional coverages you'd expect from an insurer, like liability, comprehensive and rental car coverage. It also offers a bundle of several additional coverages, called the "Personal Automobile Plus Package," for a single price. The package includes a variety of perks and extra coverages that you might not find elsewhere. Keep in mind though, that you can't purchase these extra coverages individually. It includes coverage for:
- Lost or damaged cell phones
- Expenses resulting from identity theft
- Personal property stolen from your car
- Damaged or stolen audio and video equipment
- Trip interruption when your vehicle disabled
- Transportation expenses after your vehicle is stolen
- Legal expenses and bail bonds
- Additional transportation (towing) costs
- Damage to nonowned trailers
- Lock rekeying
- Waived or reduced deductibles in certain situations
Collision and Comprehensive Coverage: Auto-Owners provides standard collision and comprehensive coverages, but there are a few extra benefits when compared with other companies' coverages. Namely, if you're in an accident with another Auto-Owners customer, the company will waive your collision deductible. And damage caused by an animal will either be covered by collision or comprehensive coverage, whichever has the lower deductible.
Other available coverages from Auto-Owners include:
- Liability Coverage: Liability coverage pays for damage to the other driver's car and their medical expenses when you are at fault in a collision.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist: This pays for damage to your own car and medical bills if the other driver in a collision doesn't have sufficient insurance.
- Roadside Assistance: This covers you whenever you have a problem with your car while driving, which could include providing a tow or extra gas or fixing a flat tire.
- Medical Payments/PIP: Medical payments or PIP cover your medical expenses in an accident, regardless of who is at fault.
- Rental Car Insurance: This coverage is for damage to cars you rent.
- Rental Car and Additional Expense Reimbursement: This covers the cost of a rental car if your car is damaged in an accident, up to a certain dollar amount.
- Towing: Towing coverage is for costs related to getting your car towed.
- Lease/Loan Gap Coverage: If your car is totaled in an accident or stolen, gap coverage pays the difference between the replacement cost and how much you owe on your lease or loan.
- Diminished Value Coverage: Diminished value coverage pays you for the reduction in value of your car after it's in an accident, even after repairs are made.
Auto-Owners Insurance offers a standard assortment of discounts to its customers, mostly related to bundling multiple policies, paying your bill early or on time, and practicing safe driving habits. All of its discounts are fairly typical for car insurance companies, but Auto-Owners' already low rates mean that your monthly premium could go from good to excellent.
Multipolicy Discounts: Auto-Owners customers can expect to save on their insurance if they purchase additional policies from the company, including life and home insurance. It also offers discounts for insuring multiple vehicles on the same auto policy.
Early Payments Discounts: Auto-Owners rewards drivers who pay their bills early or on time. You can receive a discount for paying your bill on time for 36 months straight, as well as for paying your annual premium in advance. Plus, you can save right out of the gate if you request your insurance quote in advance of the policy's effective date.
Safety Discounts: Drivers whose cars are equipped with safety features like airbags and car alarms will see a drop in their premiums. So will drivers who opt into Auto-Owners' TrueRide system, which uses a smartphone app to monitor their driving habits.
Green Discount: Customers who opt for paperless billing and pay their bills online can get a discount on their premiums.
Discounts for Teen Drivers: Households with teen drivers can reduce their premiums by taking advantage of Auto-Owners' good student discount or by installing a GPS monitor in a car primarily driven by a teenager. You'll also qualify for a reduction if your teen driver is at school more than 100 miles from home and does not have a car.
To get an understanding of how Auto-Owners' car insurance rates compared to its competitors, we reviewed quotes for four different sample drivers. Overall, the rates from Auto-Owners were either the lowest or second-lowest for each driver profile that ValuePenguin requested. Young drivers stand to save the most, as young men and women can expect to find rates from Auto-Owners that are hundreds of dollars cheaper than average.
Sample rates were for a six-month policy in Boulder, CO.
Auto-Owners Reviews and Ratings
Auto-Owners Insurance has widely praised customer service. This comes as no surprise, given the company's emphasis on fostering close relationships between their independent agents and customers. J.D. Power rated Auto-Owners as second nationwide in claims satisfaction. More holistically, the company came in either first or second place in each of J.D. Power's region-specific overall satisfaction rankings for each of the regions in which it competed.
Auto-Owners also receives fewer complaints than competing insurance companies. It has a very low NAIC complaint score of just 0.58. This means that it received far fewer complaints than expected for a company of its size; the industry median score is 1.0.
Auto-Owners' financial stability is also excellent, as the company has received the highest possible financial strength rating of A++ in A.M. Best's review. This rating means Auto-Owners has a very strong ability to meet the financial demands of paying out claims made by its customers.