The General Auto Insurance Review

February 7, 2012 No Comments »

general

Welcome out from under your rock if you’re just hearing about “The General Auto Insurance” for the first time.

Assuming you aren’t a rock dweller, you’ve probably seen a few million of their silly television commercials featuring a cute little animated army general. And you may be wondering what exactly they’re all about.

Or you noticed that Shaquille O’Neal got on board to help pitch car insurance quotes to consumers alongside Icy Hot products.


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

You may be especially interested in their claim of $39 per month auto insurance coverage, which certainly sounds like some of the cheapest car insurance around. More on that in a minute.

Who Is The General?

  • It’s actually an insurance agency
  • They sell products on behalf of several different companies
  • To individuals directly via phone and online
  • They specialize in car insurance

Spoiler alert! The General is actually an insurance agency, not just a cartoon character with a great handlebar mustache. What this means is that they are licensed in certain states to solicit and sell insurance to individuals at the retail level.

Similar to an independent insurance agent on almost any street corner in the country, The General sells insurance products on behalf of a few different companies.

The General is a subsidiary of (which means they are owned by) PGC Holdings Corporation (PGC), and they offer insurance online or by phone from Permanent General Assurance Corporation, Permanent General Assurance Corporation of Ohio and The General Automobile Insurance Company Inc.

For the record, these insurance companies have financial strength ratings of A (“Excellent”), per A.M. Best, but oddly enough The General doesn’t have a BBB rating because it’s not accredited. They are under no obligation to pay for a BBB rating, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

In early 2013, they were acquired by American Family Insurance, making them an even bigger play in the insurance space. The General also got a makeover in the process, including what appears to be an iPhone as opposed to his old flip-phone to coincide with the launch of the company’s mobile app.

This set-up is not unlike Progressive and GEICO, which are both insurance companies and also insurance agencies, allowing them to make money by selling other insurers’ products, most notably, homeowners insurance.

If you have a Progressive or GEICO homeowners insurance policy, it is actually underwritten by a different company…Progressive and GEICO simply earn a commission for passing you on to the home insurance companies.

So we can think of The General as the advertising vessel for the aforementioned auto insurance companies, which clearly don’t sound as cool. Let’s face it; it’s a lot easier to market car insurance or get someone to fill out an auto insurance quote via The General than from Permanent General Assurance Corporation of Ohio.

What Type of Insurance Does The General Specialize In?

  • The General specializes in non-standard auto insurance
  • Which is geared toward drivers with auto claims history
  • Or poor driving history
  • Who may have trouble obtaining coverage via traditional channels

You may have heard the commercial where they say, “Whether you need minimum required limits or higher?” That’s a pretty good hint that The General specializes in non-standard auto insurance.  This type of insurer offers coverage to those of us who do not “fit” the standard or preferred automobile insurance markets for various reasons, including some of the following:

1. Newly licensed drivers – Without a driving history to judge you on, some insurers aren’t willing to take a risk on you. Think of all the 16-year olds, who can certainly be classified as a high-risk drivers.

2. Unfavorable driving records or MVR – You are likely a non-standard auto insurance candidate if you have racked up a few tickets within a certain time frame (usually between 3-5 years). Having just one DUI will likely force you to seek coverage in the non-standard market.

3. Unfavorable C.L.U.E. Report – Similar to how your MVR keeps track of your driving violations, your C.L.U.E. report tracks all of your insurance claims. Non-standard insurers specialize in offering coverage to those of us with multiple claims within a 3-5 year time frame.

4. Lapsed Coverage – You will probably need to find a non-standard insurer if you are unable to maintain coverage consistently. Perhaps your coverage has lapsed for non-payment more than once in the past six months.

5. Bad credit or low down payment – You may also be giving The General a jingle because you’ve got bad credit and/or little set aside your checking accounts. They offer monthly payment plans, along with six and 12-month policies.

And yes, you can pay with a credit card, including Amex, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa.

Can I Get Good Car Insurance Coverage from The General?

  • They offer similar coverage options to those of standard insurers
  • But allow high-risk drivers to get approved for coverage as well
  • Car insurance rates may be higher because of claims history
  • Though you should still be able to get what you need if you can afford it

You can certainly expect to pay more for your car insurance coverage with any non-standard insurer, and The General is no exception. So whether you get “cheap car insurance” or not is really relative, based on how cheap you could get it elsewhere with a checkered driving history.

This DOES NOT mean you cannot get all of the coverage you need. The same basic coverage is available from almost any other insurance provider, such as GEICO Insurance or Liberty Mutual.

How much you pay is the only difference. You will have the option to purchase any of the following coverage types:

1. Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability – this is the state mandatory coverage, also referred to as liability only.

[When to opt for liability only car insurance.]

2. Physical Damage Coverage – this includes collision coverage and other than collision coverage, also known as comprehensive coverage.

You may require this if you have a loan on your ride, if you’re leasing it, or it’s simply valuable enough to insure against damage that’s not caused by another driver.

3. Uninsured and Undersinsured Motorist Coverage – This is the coverage that protects you against drivers who either have no insurance, insufficient liability limits, or hit-and-run scenarios.

4. Personal Injury Protection and Medical Payments – These are “no fault” coverage types that provide monetary compensation for injured people, regardless of whose “fault” an accident was.

What About the $39 Auto Insurance Coverage The General Promises?

  • Like all businesses that advertise prices
  • You have to comb through the fine print
  • The deals often sound better than they actually are
  • The General’s auto insurance rates will depend on coverage and your driving history

While The General could not legally advertise this number unless it was within the realm of possibility, you may be better off assuming you will pay more than that for your automobile insurance each month.

This is especially true now that Shaquille O’Neal is on the payroll. Of course, he might come cheaper than LeBron…

[See how much insurers pay for advertising. The numbers will blow your mind!]

This line of thinking will keep you from getting frustrated or disappointed when you find out YOUR policy costs more.

Just like every other type of advertising you see on television, you’re being told about the absolute cheapest policy their organization has, but only one-in-a-million people qualify for that rate.

Hey, if it gets you to their website, they consider it a “win.”

But it’s best to obtain insurance quotes online from numerous different insurance companies to ensure you get the best deal available. There are thousands of insurers out there competing for your insurance premium dollar…and every one of them has different rates.

The General may be a good place to start for your auto insurance needs if you find yourself in the non-standard market, but make sure it’s not the only place you go.

Spending just five more minutes obtaining multiple quotes could save you some serious dollars in the long run.

The General Auto Insurance Discounts

  • They’re not big on discounts since high-risk drivers are their target market
  • Seem to focus more on the ability to offer you coverage in the first place
  • But you can get a cheaper policy if you pay in full
  • Or quarterly in some states

Seeing that they’re already a low-cost insurance provider that caters to high-risk drivers, they don’t offer many insurance discounts like the other major insurers do.

However, you can get a discount if you pay your 12-month or 6-month policy in full. Additionally, The General offer discounts if you choose to pay quarterly in some states.

They also claim to offer an instant auto insurance quote that can be generated in less than two minutes. Sounds really fast.

Oh, and you can get instant proof of insurance once you’re insured with The General, along with an insurance ID card. Sweet!

Term Life Insurance from The General

  • They also offer term life insurance
  • Via American Family Life Insurance
  • So you can get life insurance quotes while you’re at it
  • But be sure to compare insurance rates with other companies to ensure you get a low rate and appropriate coverage

Thanks to that link up with American Family, you can now obtain life insurance from The General.

Specifically, it’s called American Family Life Insurance from The General. That’s a mouthful, but at least they’re being honest about it and making it very clear where it comes from. It’s also worth mentioning that it’s administered by a company called Homesite.

It’s a term life insurance policy, which some would argue is the only type of life insurance worth buying.

Aside from that, they don’t offer any other types of insurance, despite their website giving you the option to receive quotes for anything from renters insurance to motorcycle insurance and RV insurance.

Once you enter your zip code, it’ll just redirect you to other insurance companies like Progressive that actually offer those insurance types. Ultimately, they figure they might as well earn some commission if they can’t offer you a policy, so there’s a good chance they get a referral fee.

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