Esurance Review: Insurance for Everything from Segways to Snowmobiles

May 17, 2011 No Comments »


Esurance is one of the most recognized names in insurance these days.

You may remember their earlier marketing, which featured Erin Esurance, the eerily attractive cartoon insurance chick.

More recently, they’ve switched to a series of silly office-based television commercials highlighting “The Saver,” which we have to admit are pretty funny. And we don’t like to admit anything around here…

[Compare rates from the leading car insurance companies in your area.]

So that tells us they’ve got a great marketing team, but not a whole lot about what they actually do or offer.

Fortunately, we’ve done the research and compiled some useful information regarding Esurance and their suite of insurance offerings.

Perhaps most interesting, they provide insurance for Segways and snowmobiles.

What Is Esurance?

The “truth” is Esurance is a lot of different things, depending on what type of insurance you’re trying to purchase from them. Just like Progressive and GEICO, they are an actual auto insurance company that also acts as a broker in some cases.

Insurance is a “marketing” business. The insurance products and services available to the public are, for the most part, all relatively the same. The company that issues the most policies (their own product) or “brokers” (selling you another insurer’s product) wins.

This is often the company that best appeals to a particular emotional buying impulse of ours. Have you noticed State Farm’s recent “push” into the market of the young and cool urban dweller? Clearly they see an opportunity in a market they don’t already “own” and are looking for market share among youngsters.

Insurance advertising giants would be insane to not “cross sell” everyone they attract. Maybe they only offer auto insurance.

But if they’ve got you on the phone, why not offer home, boat, life or health insurance from a “partner” company? They may not get your premium dollars, but they can still earn a commission along the way.

Esurance Auto Insurance

Spoiler alert! Esurance is actually a car insurance company. They are owned by White Mountains Insurance Group – a VERY large insurer.

***Allstate just announced (5/18/11) that it will buy Esurance for roughly $1 billion***

We are talking billions of dollars in assets here folks. They also hold a coveted “Excellent” rating by AM BEST (insurance company ratings).

So if you buy an auto policy from Esurance, they will collect your insurance premium and write the check if a covered insurance claim occurs. You’re actually insured by Esurance.

They offer everything from liability only to full coverage auto ( liability and physical damage), so you’re able to obtain any coverage you may be looking for from Esurance. Nothing groundbreaking here.

Recently, they launched their so-called “CoverageMyWay” feature that kind of guides you through coverage options you might need.

Once you plug in all your info, it spits out a quote with pre-populated options that are customized to you, not all drivers. That’s the whole point of it.

So presumably based on your vehicle information and your driver profile, it will suggest that you get X coverage, but not Y.  And so on. But you can add and subtract whatever you want.

I guess they don’t want you to pay for coverage you don’t need. But they probably also want to highlight stuff you might need too.

There are additional tabs you can select for:

– Less coverage
– Standard coverage
– More coverage

While it might sound kind of cool, especially since they pitched it in a Super Bowl ad with Lindsay Lohan, most other carriers seem to offer a similar online quoting experience nowadays.

For the record, the idea behind the commercial is that you’re probably not a terrible driver like Lohan, and thus shouldn’t receive the same expensive coverage.

I played around with it and found that the customized quote did change considerably when I swapped the vehicle make and model. So it might be helpful for those who are a bit clueless about what they do and do not need. It could potentially be a money-saver.

The company also recently released its DriveSense device, which uses telematics to gauge your driving habits and price your policy accordingly, similar to Progressive Snapshot.

[Check out Esurance car insurance discounts here.]

Esurance Home & Renters Insurance

This is where it may get a little murky. You can call Esurance and purchase a homeowners insurance or renters insurance policy as well, but it may actually be offered by a different insurance company altogether.

I recently entered my zip code for an Esurance renters insurance quote and was directed to Homesite, which actually underwrites the policy. Other renters insurance companies listed on the Esurance website include Safeco, Security First, and Assurant.

However, Esurance does appear to underwrite their own renters insurance as well, though it may be limited to certain states.

Note: Claims processing is done by the underwriting company, which may not always be Esurance. In other words, if something happened you’d contact Homesite instead of Esurance.

In terms of pricing, Esurance says its renters insurance can be just $14 a month on average, and if you add a renters insurance policy, you can qualify for the Renters Plus discount.

It provides a discount of 30% of the renters premium deducted from the auto premium automatically. Unfortunately, 30% off a tiny premium may only equate to a few bucks.

For example, $14 per month annualized is $168, and 30% of that is $50.40. It’s not incidental, but it might be less than expected in the way of a discount.

Esurance Home Insurance is also provided by third-party companies in states where it’s not available. Partners include Answer Financial, Inc. (also owned by Allstate) or Security First Insurance Company for Florida residents.

You can receive a Multi-Policy discount if you bundle home and auto, though the combo is only available in select states.

Esurance Motorcycle Insurance

The plot thickens. You will receive a Progressive policy (now Answer Financial, Inc.) when you purchase motorcycle insurance coverage from Esurance. Read more about Progressive motorcycle insurance.

This seems to have been updated to as well, possibly due to that Allstate acquisition.

While Esurance doesn’t work with you on claims here (that’s Answer Financial’s job), they appear to at least provide customer service.

However, in some states, Esurance appears to offer motorcycle insurance on their own.

Esurance Life & Health Insurance

The life & health insurance offerings from Esurance have even less to do with Esurance. All coverage for these two lines of insurance is offered solely through unaffiliated partners of Esurance.

This means Esurance does not underwrite, provide customer service, pay claims, or have anything to do with claims when it comes to life & health…but they still utilize their marketing to make a buck on the transaction.

Final Word on Esurance

Esurance may be a useful tool for obtaining premium quotes and purchasing auto insurance if you’re comfortable going it alone.

But if you want a local agent you can bother in the event you’re unhappy with anything, the company may not be for you.

When it comes to property insurance (home and renters) or life & health, you may want to go the route of a local independent insurance agent to ensure you get the coverage you need at the price you want.

Let’s face it; you’ll already be using an agent/broker if you purchase anything other than auto from Esurance, so you might as well use a local agent who can shop around more and provide that personal touch.

Update: We wrote and posted this article on 5/17/11, only to find out that Allstate agreed to buy Esurance a day later.  Esurance will remain its own brand, but will act as a new channel (probably youth oriented) for Allstate.

(photo: Wade Rockett)

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