Beyond the big corporate giants of the insurance world like GEICO or Progressive, there are a number of mid-sized insurance companies that don't have the massive ad budgets or clever gekko mascots. From these mid-sized carriers, customers can get more personal service and often cheaper prices. On the top of our list of such carriers is Erie Insurance. Those looking for an auto insurance company with a solid Better Business Bureau rating and a long list of available discounts that translate into great pricing should consider Erie Insurance. Reflecting the company’s name, Erie Insurance offers auto insurance policies in just one region of 12 states. These include Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin - as well as the District of Columbia.
Founded by two friends who were unhappy at their jobs at the Pennsylvania Indemnity Exchange, the company’s original business plan was hand-written on a 10-cent note pad. Since these humble beginnings 105 years ago, Erie Insurance has grown to be ranked in the mid-300s on Fortune’s 500 list of America’s largest companies. Erie Insurance is now the second-largest insurer in the state of Pennsylvania. In recent years, Erie Insurance has been ranked 11th nationally in terms of auto policies written.
Erie Insurance proudly notes on its official history page that In 1934, Erie Insurance introduced the “Super Standard Auto Policy.” This new to the industry policy included many features that have since become industry standards. While innovation is always notable, what caught our attention was that Erie Insurance earns a spot on many “cheap insurance” lists.
During Erie Insurance’s early years, policyholders who had difficulty were asked to phone H.O. Hirt, the company’s founder, directly - collect! The company’s mantra at the time was “The ERIE is Above all in sERvIcE,” with the letters spelling “Erie” in large font and the others smaller. Does the company still live up to this early customer satisfaction promise? We first checked out Google Reviews. Noting that folks who don’t have any problems with their insurance company rarely turn to Google to place a love letter review at the site, Erie Insurance earns a three-star (out of five) score with 147 reviews listed. Sifting through the reviews, we noticed some mention that Erie Insurance had sent the policyholder a COVID refund this past summer.
At Yelp, we found that Erie has a two-star rating and that of the 53 reviews posted, 47 policyholders gave the company just one star. Erie’s monthly average for the 2020 calendar year is under two stars. However, the most recent review posted was a five-star rating, and it reads, “I totaled my car one week ago. I was fortunately assigned to Nick Grant at the Peoria office. I was impressed with his knowledge, his timely responses, and his overall good customer service. Wow, an insurance adjuster who was "human." I felt he was actually working with me. I am so happy that my insurance broker put me with Erie Insurance. I am 73 years old and never in my life did I ever believe that I would say that about any insurance company:)”
We should note that since Erie Insurance uses agents, many of the reviews we scanned were actually reviews of the company’s agents. We are not sure if that matters overall since the company chooses them, but in fairness, the agents’ customer service may vary from office to office.
The Better Business Bureau gives Erie Insurance an A+ rating, but the reviews there are the lowest we found in our search. Erie Insurance earned just 1.57 stars over 51 customer reviews. Interestingly, Erie Insurance is not accredited by the BBB.
Erie Insurance covers not just passenger cars but also motorcycles, snowmobiles, RVs and ATVs. Of course, auto insurance policy coverage is heavily regulated by the individual states. You will find that Erie Insurance hits all of the usual areas such as Collision, Comprehensive, Liability, and Medical Payments.
In addition to the usual lists of coverages, Erie Insurance also has auto policies that we found unusual. For instance, the company offers coverage to pay for injuries to pets. The company also can include locksmith services, roadside assistance, replacement vehicle coverage, and even coverage for personal items that were in a vehicle covered by the policy. One small thing we picked out was that in the event of a covered glass mishap, Erie Insurance will throw in a new pair of wiper blades.
In 1920, Erie Insurance founder H.O. Hirt insured his Dodge on a company policy at a cost of $21.60. That policy, when adjusted for inflation, would cost $281 in today’s U.S. dollars. Since the roaring ‘20s, insurance costs have gone up. A lot.
Since Erie Insurance is a “full-service” insurer, those who are considering an auto policy should carefully consider switching all of their insurance policies to Erie Insurance to maximize multi-policy discounts. Erie Insurance says that by bundling home, life and auto together, a policyholder can earn discounts of “16 to 25%.” This is a wise consideration no matter which insurer you work with. In addition to enjoying discounts, a policyholder will also have one local agent to deal with on all insurance matters.
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Car Talk scanned multiple rating sites to see how Erie Insurance ranked in their comparisons. Above, we list four sites that provided data on Erie Insurance pricing. Each publication used its own criteria, but as you can see, Erie Insurance does well across the board and is the most affordable in three of the four examples.
So how much will an Erie Insurance policy cost you? If you are a fifty-year-old clergy member residing in the Pennsylvania countryside insuring a 2003 Toyota Highlander, not very much. If you’re 21, live in Philadelphia, want to insure a 2021 BMW i8, have had a DUI arrest, and three recent accidents, be prepared to cash in some serious bitcoin. Who you are, what you drive, where you live, how much you drive, and how often you act badly behind the wheel (and get caught) are the main factors that determine how much you pay for insurance, not the company itself. Even your credit score can move the needle meaningfully in some states.
Erie Insurance suggests that you speak to your local agent to ensure you get all of the discounts you qualify for. Here is a quick list of those the company highlights that you may be eligible for:
Compare quotes from multiple providers to get a good deal.
Erie Insurance earns an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Many reviews from policyholders are positive, and some note that the company issued a recent COVID-19 refund.
Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin—as well as the District of Columbia are states and territories in which Erie Insurance offers auto insurance.
Erie Insurance, Farm Bureau, Geico, State Farm, and USAA are among the insurers that make the Car Talk list of top affordable insurance companies. We did note that Grange Insurance has high customer ratings.
Car Talk research indicates that Erie Insurance has an edge in pricing, not just over Geico, but many larger companies in the states in which it offers coverage.