American Family Insurance provides cover to motorists in Oregon and 18 other states across the nation. In spite of that relatively small geographical spread, they still rank as the 16th largest insurance group in America, with assets totaling about $16 billion and annual revenues in excess of $7 billion. When it comes to auto insurance, they’re the 10th largest provider of coverage in the country.
It’s a far cry from their starting point of October 3, 1927, when an insurance salesman named Herman Wittwer figured out that Wisconsin farmers were a better (and therefore more profitable) insurance risk than city dwellers, because they drove less and tended to put their cars up on blocks during the winter months. Wittwer was the founder of Farmers Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, which in 1963 was renamed American Family Mutual Insurance Company. The company’s website claims “Our commitment to you is to be fair, helpful and caring,” but when it comes to American Family Insurance Oregon claims, just how fair, helpful and caring are they?
American Family Gets Mixed Reviews From Customers
American Family must be doing some things right, and some things horribly wrong, because two independent reviewers gave highly contrasting opinions on the company’s performance and customer satisfaction ratings. In a J.D. Power & Associates press release of October 27, 2011, American Family came out looking quite good. They received an overall score of 862 out of a possible 1,000 points in a customer satisfaction survey of more than 11,000 customers. That score is 16 points above the industry average of 846. In addition, J.D. Power’s Circle Rating of 4 out of a possible 5, earning them a rating of “Better Than Most.” Of the 25 insurance companies covered in the survey, American Family came in at fourth place. Based on all this, one would expect that American Family Insurance Oregon claims would be paid promptly, and that the amounts would be fair, wouldn’t you?
Well, another independent reviewer came up with quite a different picture of American Family. In a comprehensive insurance company satisfaction survey, they found that when customers were asked the question “Overall, how satisfied are you with American Family Insurance, only 24% of respondents said they were either extremely satisfied or very satisfied. And while a further 13% said they were a lukewarm somewhat satisfied, the remaining 63% expressed dissatisfaction, including a shocking 52% of all respondents, who said they were “extremely dissatisfied” with the company.
Oregon American Family Falls Short – and Increases Premiums
If the customer is always right, then American Family, according to the majority of their customers, is falling a bit short of the mark in their commitment to be fair, helpful and caring. Like other insurance companies, American Family’s customers receive increases in their premiums with no claims having been filed, and with no explanation given for those increases. In addition, the company seems to delay the payment of some claims, denies other claims that seem perfectly valid, defends claims that should never see the inside of a courtroom and finally, they only seem to start seeing reason when their clients get an attorney involved.
It seems that American Family will use just about any excuse to raise the cost of their cover. On April 26, 2011, this customer wrote in a complaint that literally echoed hundreds of similar experiences suffered by other American Family customers. “We have excellent driving records, and our income situation should have nothing to do with how much to charge for insurance. They check your credit rating every three months and just keep adding to the bill. I do not drive differently because of my financial problems!”
Another client received an increased premium, and it wasn’t the first time. On January 29 they wrote, “Although we have excellent driving records and have never submitted any type of claim, the premiums continue to increase every six months.”
Complaints Against American Family Insurance When Making Claims: Delays, Denials
As recently as November 10, 2011, an American Family customer wrote in to complain that “because I didn’t have a police report, an (American Family appointed) inspector has to come and see my car, but at their own time and convenience.”
Another disgruntled client said of American Family, “My truck was stolen and recovered totally burned out, and I still have not been paid. I’ve been with them for 15 years. It’s time to move on.”
When a customer filed what appears to be a completely legitimate claim, American Family denied the coverage. They wrote, “My agent in a time of need ignored me, and the claims adjuster…well, let’s face it; we all know he gets paid to deny claims even if you deserve it…”
This particular customer has suffered both delays and denials. On February 23 of this year, they wrote, “I got rear ended sitting at a stop light–$4,500 damage to my car and an injury to my neck that shows up on x-rays. American Family has been jerking me around for three years now, and I still have received no settlement. The latest x-ray shows the neck problem is getting worse. I need surgery to fix it and am still in pain.
What You Need to Know About Filing a Claim Against American Family Insurance
Like most insurance companies, American Family changes their tune when a personal injury attorney is called into the game. This AmFam client tells it perfectly. “AmFam has been my auto insurer for over 10 years. Then, I get rear ended and get whiplash. The AmFam claims department never calls me back, no matter when you call. There was stalemate for six to eight months, and I finally had to threaten getting legal counsel, and after that, they settled the next day! My premiums then went up 20%. I’m looking for another company.”
Drivers submitting American Family Insurance Oregon claims should realize that whenever you’re dealing with this, or any other insurance company, there’s a possibility that your claim will be delayed for any number of reasons. It could also be denied—again, for no apparent reason, and the likelihood is that you’ll be offered a settlement far lower than you would have expected. It’s also true to say that if you contact a reputable Portland car accident attorney, the odds that your case will be settled quickly and fairly will increase dramatically.