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Costco Insurance Review: More Than Just Auto

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You’ve just purchased one metric ton of salsa, a 50-inch television set and a two-person kayak…don’t forget the car insurance!

Costco, similar to many other large corporations with any existing customer base, offers insurance products to their army of bulk purchase super-savers.

How you ask? The same way GEICO and Progressive (at least they are involved in insurance) offer homeowners insurance.

GEICO and Progressive “underwrite” auto insurance as auto insurance companies, which means they collect your insurance premiums and write the actual check if you have a covered claim.

Conversely, GEICO Insurance Agency, Inc. (Geico Home Insurance) and Progressive Insurance Company (Progressive bundling) act as “any old insurance agent” and “sell” you someone else’s product when it’s not auto insurance. They get a commission, but do not collect your premium and do not pay claims.

Following suit, Costco Insurance Agency, Inc. will “sell” you someone else’s insurance product for a commission. We’ve said it a million times and we’ll say it again if you’re not familiar with our website.

Insurance is a “marketing” business. The insurance products and services available to the public are, for the most part, all relatively the same…which is why we are such proponents of the local independent agent (not captive agents).

Therefore, we must be influenced, primarily through advertising, to believe one company is better than the other.

And any company the size of Costco has a huge customer base that’s prime for the picking. You’re there once a week, you trust the name, they are nationally known…frankly we’re surprised this didn’t happen sooner.

Who Am I Actually Insured With If Not Costco?

We’re glad you asked. The answer to who actually “holds” the policy is always in the fine print…just below the insignia of the multi-billion dollar company that intends to make the commission as a “middle man” on the deal.

In this case, it’s IDS Property Casualty Insurance Company and Ameriprise Insurance Company, both located in De Pere, Wisconsin. Each company is a subsidiary of Ameriprise Financial, Inc.

That’s right, Ameriprise Financial. They are very well known for financial planning. Perhaps they didn’t want to spend the money on re-branding as an insurer, or didn’t want to water down their existing brand, which focuses on retirement and financial investments. For the record, insurance and your financial future go hand-in-hand.

Pure marketing genius on Ameriprise’s part! Did you know Ameriprise as an insurance company? Probably not. Does that matter? Not if you believe in Costco’s marketing and branding efforts.

Fair Enough. What Does Costco Offer?

You will have to speak to a representative of the company, right behind the “tobacco cage” at your local Costco.

Shocker alert. If it were an earth shattering type of insurance, they’d market it under their own name and blow our collective minds. P.S. You might be able to save up to “who knows what” by switching to them!

Costco Auto Insurance

At last glance, Costco car insurance seems to be provided by Ameriprise, a reputable insurance company. Now let’s take a look at what you get.

– Discount “just” for being a Costco member in almost all cases.
– Personalized service built around your unique needs – this is seriously a bullet point of the program
Comprehensive coverage options – we’ll assume this means they offer physical damage coverage (not just liability-only).
– Responsive insurance claims service 24/7
– You get to choose your repair facility – which verifies they offer physical damage and uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage
– Available discounts include safe driving, insuring multiple vehicles (which is technically “buying in bulk”…we couldn’t help ourselves), having more than one policy and “more” – their words, not ours. You know we’d list them for you!
– 24 hour roadside assistance is available
– Lifetime renewability – Keep in mind they may renew you no matter what, but that doesn’t mean the premium will be favorable at renewal.

*The Costco auto insurance program is not available in the state of Michigan.

Costco Home Insurance

The details of this one are sketchy – there is not a lot of info readily available, so take your homeowners insurance quotes to a local independent insurance agent to make sure you have adequate coverage.That said, here is what they disclose:

– Home lockout assistance – they’ll pay up to $100 for up to two incidences within a 12 month period. For the record, $100 should be more than enough to get you back in your house!
– Home Glass Repair – Don’t laugh at this one. Not every homeowner’s insurance policy covers all of the glass on your home against breakage of any type. Most insurers certainly offer the option, often referred to as “unscheduled glass” coverage or simply “glass” coverage.
– The home glass repair reimbursement coverage offers up to $1000 per occurrence and is limited to two claims within any consecutive 12-month period.
– Discounts for packaging home and auto

Costco also offers a so-called “auto and home insurance program” for its members that can apparently save you up to $541.69. However, this package deal isn’t available in AK, LA, ME, ND, RI, WV, WY or Puerto Rico.

*The Costco home insurance program is not available in the state of Florida.

And the exclusive Costco discount isn’t available in the state of Tennessee, or on auto insurance for non-Executive members in Massachusetts.

Costco Renters Insurance

What more can we say about the importance of renters insurance.

Costco’s renters insurance is likely comparable to many other available products, but always be sure to ask about “water back-up “ coverage and make sure to get the details of exactly what types of losses you are insured against.

For the record; you will want an all risks policy.

Mexico Travel Auto Insurance

Please read up on the laws and details of auto insurance in Mexico prior to heading south of the border – an auto accident is basically considered a crime in Mexico…meaning dealing with the local “authorities” before you can be back on your way.

Costco has switched gears here and partnered with Bonita West Mexico Insurance Services, Inc., a broker, out of California for this particular product.

Bonita West, in turn, sells you a policy from MAPFRE Tepeyac, SA de CV (that is not a typo; based on our admittedly limited Spanish, is a Mexican insurance company…as in, from Mexico).

The product is pretty comprehensive and offers the following coverage:

– You can purchase a daily, all the way up to an annual, policy
– More than one option for liability and medical coverage
– Comp and collision coverage up to $60,000 – leave the Ferrari at home for goodness sake

Their full coverage plan includes collision, total theft (ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY), bodily injury and property damage liability, medical expenses, legal defense (ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY) and travel assistance.

The coverage can be purchased 24 hours per day (we’re assuming online) in case you get the “itch” to go to Mexico at an odd time.

Final Word

While Costco might have the best deal out there, depending on your unique insurance profile and needs, you should consider visiting a local independent insurance agent if you are comfortable buying an insurance policy from an insurance agency.

Sticking with our mantra, if Costco/Ameriprise Financial/ Bonita West Mexico Insurance Services, Inc./ MAPFRE Tepeyac, SA de CV has the lowest price and best service, then by all means go with them.

Just remember you are foregoing multiple insurance quotes from numerous insurance companies if you don’t visit an independent agent. Period.

At the end of the day, Costco may refuse to be beat on price when it comes to giant plastic bins of cheese balls, but they may fall short in offering you the lowest price on your insurance policy, whether its home, auto, or both.

(photo: greenwenvy08)

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