Wawanesa Insurance Review: Only the Best Drivers Need Apply

April 19, 2012 1 Comment »
Wawanesa Insurance Review: Only the Best Drivers Need Apply

If you live in California (or Oregon), you may have noticed “Wawanesa Insurance” television commercials recently and wondered who they are. Or where the heck that name came from?

No fear, TTAI is here to give you the rundown on this very old and established, yet relatively unknown insurance company.

First thing first, how’d they get a name like Wawanesa? The answer is simple…they’re Canadian, and the company planted its roots in Wawanesa, Manitoba all the way back in 1896! A lot of seemingly strangely named towns north of our border, and this is one of the many.

Wawanesa Insurance started the way many insurance companies did back in the day; as a farmer’s mutual insurer. Farm and crop insurance has been around for a long, long time, before the advent of the automobile.

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

It is a subsidiary of The Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company of Canada, which is one of the largest insurance carriers in Canada.

Wawanesa Insurance U.S. Operations

Eventually, Wawanesa was incorporated in 1929 and began issuing insurance policies in places like California as far back as 1975, but only recently began advertising on television (to the best of our knowledge).

This insurance company is a “direct marketing company,” which means they solicit clients without using either captive (chain insurers) or independent insurance agents to attract customers. This is similar to the GEICO model of insurance.

Wawanesa’s U.S. headquarters are in San Diego, California. And most insurance related operations on this side of the border are also handled in “America’s Finest City.”

Oregon is the second, and only other, U.S. state in which Wawanesa offers their insurance products. Perhaps they will expand to others in the near future…we’ll let you know if and when that happens.

Wawanesa Offers Low Auto Insurance Rates

Wawanesa’s claim to insurance fame is that their prices are significantly lower than prices offered by their competitors. You might expect to see auto insurance premiums 25-35% below “standard manual rates.”

Their auto policies are written at preferred-risk rates and they appear to only go after the very best drivers.

It’s unclear if their car insurance rates are lower because they only insure good drivers, thus lowering the average premium price, or if they’re actually that much lower than rates for preferred drivers at other companies.

Their home insurance products (standard dwelling and condo) are also purported to be below the standard manual rates available in each state.

However, we don’t see any claims of 25-35%, so expect their property insurance to be less “competitive” than their auto – which is likely the bread-and-butter for Wawanesa Insurance here in the United States (well, two of the 50).

Tip: Standard manual rates do not necessarily include discounts you can obtain through other insurers, so the 25-35% discount may not actually be your exact savings.

How Does Wawanesa Do It?

First, they probably save a few hundred-million dollars each year on their advertising costs, or lack thereof.

Most of the chain insurers (State Farm, Farmers) typically offer much higher insurance premiums as a result of spending a large portion of their revenue on advertising. Or hiring LeBron James.

Of course, this expense is passed on to the customers. There’s no way around it.

Wawanesa claims to get a HUGE portion of their new business sales through existing client referrals. How huge you ask? They say 90-93% of their new customers come from existing ones.

So, instead of bombarding you with advertising about how great they are, they let word of mouth advertising do the legwork, which is much less expensive.

They apparently maintain expense levels “well below industry averages” to come up with better pricing. And their existing policyholders seem to be happy about that, if the referral stats are any indication.

Of course, their referrals numbers might have been so high because they didn’t advertise (up until recently), so there was really no other way to find out about them other than via a referral.

What Insurance Does Wawanesa Offer?

Currently, Wawanesa offers automobile, home and condominium insurance.

Their underwriting appetite appears to be for standard/preferred clients only. This is considered the upper echelon of insurance consumers, or those who a company does not expect to have to pay a lot of claims for!

Auto Insurancefull coverage auto insurance is available, including liability and physical damage coverage. All auto policies are for a 6-month term, which can benefit those with tickets or accidents because premiums may decrease sooner than they otherwise would on a 12-month policy.

Tip: As discussed, drivers that do not fit the “preferred” profile need not apply. Wawanesa will not offer a policy to drivers with more than 1 point on their MVR or more than one at-fault accident within the past 36 months.

And an at-fault accident involving bodily injury with total damages exceeding $1,000 counts as two points, so it’s easy to not qualify here.

[How much does insurance go up with 1 point?]

They have a wide variety of deductibles to choose from, including:

  • $100, $200, $300, $500, $1,000, $1,500, $2,500

The company allows for monthly payments, full pay, or two pay, with installment fees assessed when you don’t pay in full.

Wawanesa also offers a so-called “Claim Service Guarantee” in which they will guarantee the workmanship of your claim repairs for as long as you own the property if you use one of the repair services they recommend.

However, you are also given the opportunity to select your own repair shop in the event of a loss.

You can earn a multi-policy discount if you’re a Wawanesa auto insurance policyholder and add a Wawanesa’s homeowners policy.

Home Insurance – Sticking with the preferred coverage tier, Wawanesa is looking to insure single-family primary residences and condos (ones you live in only).

They offer Home Systems Protection for as little as $31 a year, which covers sudden and accidental breakdown and electronic circuitry impairment. This applies to air conditioning systems, heat pumps, pool equipment, home security systems, and more.

Additionally, you can tack on Service Line Coverage to protect underground pipes and wires for as little as $23 annually.

Tip: The condition of your home, your previous claim history (C.L.U.E. report) and your proximity to brushfire prone areas will all be taken into account when seeking coverage from this insurer.

Condo Insurance – Simply re-read the “Home” details above. The condo guidelines are identical and must be owner-occupied

Renters Insurance – Same deal, exclusively for private residential purposes and dwelling condition and loss history may affect eligibility.

Is Wawanesa Insurance a Clear Winner?

If you frequent our website, you already know the answer. It is certainly worth a shot to call Wawanesa and obtain insurance quotes, assuming you’re a good driver or a good homeowner who lives in California or Oregon.

After all, insurance quotes are free and don’t really take that much time to complete. And if their claim of 25-35% off holds up, you could save a pretty penny with Wawanesa.

They’re also a fairly high-rated company, with their parent company (The Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company) receiving a financial strength rating of A (Excellent), per A.M. Best Company.

You can pay your insurance premium by credit card, though only Discover, MasterCard, and Visa are accepted, and there is a non-refundable $4.99 fee.

Anyway, always be sure to shop with more than one insurance company, or it’s not really “shopping.”

Get quotes online and speak with an independent insurance agent to ensure the quote you eventually go with is the best available.

You never know…Wawanesa may be significantly less expensive than your current coverage (especially if you are with a national chain insurer), but you might still be leaving money on the table if you don’t get multiple quotes.

(photo: ajbatac)

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One Comment

  1. Carl April 26, 2016 at 12:17 am -

    It was a good company for car insurance however every year they are raising there rates for good driver. They are just like all others the get you in with a teaser rate then raise it every year.
    A company business model should never punish good drivers who pay a fair annual premium along with having a clean driving record.

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