In 1927, entrepreneur Herman Wittwer reasoned that rural Wisconsin farmers posed less of an insurance risk than other motorists because they tended not to drive during the state’s harsh winters. That idea gave birth to the Farmers Mutual Insurance Company, a regional startup that eventually grew into American Family Insurance, a Fortune 500 company.
Still based in Madison, Wisconsin, the company experienced steady growth over the ensuing 90 years, expanding off the farm and out of Wisconsin in the 1930s; broadening into medical, homeowners, and life insurance in the 1950s and commercial policies in the 1970s; and changing its name to American Family Mutual Insurance in the 1960s.
American Family celebrated its 90th birthday in 2017, with more than 10,000 employees and 3,000 agents doing business in 19 states and helping to generate $9 billion in revenue.
American Family Is the 10th Best Car Insurance Company
How We Created This American Family Car Insurance Review
To determine where American Family car insurance ranked among the top 10 car insurance companies, we surveyed 2,799 people who had filed a claim within the last five years. We asked each to respond to the same 10 questions about their experience, rating their car insurance company on a scale of 1 to 10 on each.
U.S. News also worked with Quadrant Information Services to provide a report of average insurance rates in all 50 states from the 10 largest national car insurance companies. The rates are based on profiles for both male and female drivers aged 17, 25, 35, and 60. Vehicles used include the 2018 Honda Civic, 2018 Toyota RAV4, 2018 Ford-F-150, 2015 Honda Civic, 2015 Toyota RAV4, and 2015 Ford-F-150, with annual mileage of 6,000 and 12,000. Three car insurance coverage levels were used, as were credit tiers of good, fair, and poor. Clean driving records, as well as records with one accident, one speeding violation, and one DUI were also used in the calculations. The rates shown here are for comparative purposes only. Individual rates will differ.
American Family Rating and Review
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Finishing last in our survey, American Family received lower scores than any competitor in two key areas: satisfaction with filing a claim and claim status updates. The company had similarly poor scores across all other categories. Perhaps most telling was that American Family customers gave their insurer the lowest marks of any company in our survey when asked two important questions – how likely they were to recommend their car insurance company and how likely they were to renew their policy.
American Family received its highest survey scores for customer service, with 57 percent of participants saying they were completely satisfied. Only 7 percent ranked American Family customer service at the bottom.
“American Family has always been a great company when it comes to claims,” said one respondent. “We would never switch!”
Beyond that, less than half of American Family customers surveyed said they were completely satisfied in response to any of our other questions. The way the company kept customers apprised of status updates proved to be a particularly sore point, with less than 35 percent of participants saying they were completely satisfied. Value was another common gripe, with only 41 percent saying they were completely satisfied with the value American Family provides, while more than 15 percent said they were not at all satisfied. This was reflected in their comments.
“They nickel and dime you, look for any way to raise your premiums,” said one.
Satisfaction with ease of filing a claim was another area where American Family lagged, with about 67 percent of respondents saying they were either unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with the process. Just 8.5 percent said they were completely satisfied. Less than 8 percent were satisfied with how their claim was resolved, while only 41 percent said they were completely satisfied with how their claims were resolved.
One third of respondents answered in the negative when asked about recommending American Family to someone shopping for car insurance, and about the same number said they were unlikely to renew their policy with the company. Roughly 31 percent said they were either unlikely or very unlikely to continue with American Family, with many complaining again about value and overall performance.
“They had very poor coverage and service on the homeowners policy coupled with the automotive,” one respondent said. “We saved around 33 percent by switching insurance companies.”
American Family Car Insurance Costs
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With an average annual premium of $3,443 for all drivers, our survey found that American Family was about midpack in terms of rates. Geico and State Farm's average premiums were slightly lower at $3,215 and $3,260, respectively, and USAA's were substantially less than all others at $2,537. At the other end of the spectrum, Liberty Mutual's premiums were most expensive at $6,073, followed by Allstate at $4,888.
As with most insurance companies, American Family's highest rates belonged to younger drivers, particularly younger males. A 17-year-old male paid $8,130 annually on average with American Family, which again was nether the lowest nor highest among insurers. At $5,996, rates for a 17-year-old female, were about $2,100 less than a male of the same age. That marks a greater difference in rates for males and females in this age bracket than we’ve seen with most other insurers.
Rates dropped significantly for older drivers, with a single 25-year-old female paying $2,289 annually with American Family on average, or $3,708 less than her 17-year-old counterpart. In fact, American Family was one of the least expensive insurers for women in this age group on average, beaten only by USAA's $1,989 average. The drop in rates was even greater for males, with a single 25-year-old male paying $2,695 on average. That’s a reduction of $5,436 compared to a 17-year-old male but still more than he'd pay with Geico, State Farm, Travelers, or USAA.
The cost gap between male and female drivers narrowed further with married 35-year-olds. Females paid $2,203 annually with American Family, while males of the same age were charged $2,224 on average. That’s a difference of less than $22. Both rates were competitive with other companies, within $100 to $200 of several competitors.
|Single 17-year old female||$5,996.50|
|Single 17-year old male||$8,130.50|
|Single 25-year old female||$2,288.65|
|Single 25-year old male||$2,694.72|
|Married 35-year old female||$2,202.70|
|Married 35-year old male||$2,224.31|
|Married 60-year old female||$1,992.92|
|Married 60-year old male||$2,014.38|
With American Family, drivers who put more miles on their car paid around $80 more annually than those who drove less, with average rates of $3,401 for drivers traveling 6,000 miles per year and $3,489 for those racking up 12,000 miles annually. That difference is comparable to that of most other companies.
As we’ve seen with competitors, American Family did not charge much more for high coverage amounts than low. Those who opted for minimal coverage paid $3,368 annually on average, while switching to high coverage meant an increase of less than $50 (bringing the average premium to $3,416). With a small difference in price among all insurers in our survey, going for higher coverage seems like money well spent, but the benefit was particularly significant with American Family. Its rates for high coverage were among the lowest we found, with only USAA, $2,668, costing less.
|Coverage Type||Average Rate|
Credit scores made a noticeable difference in rates with American Family. Drivers with good credit paid $2,692 on average per year, while those with poor credit paid almost $1,800 more, or $4,468. Both numbers were once again midpack compared to competitors, and only Geico, Nationwide, and USAA charged less.
|Credit History||Average Rate|
American Family customers with a clean driving record were rewarded with more-competitive rates than those with most other companies, with only Geico and USAA charging less for this group on average. American Family customers with a good driving record paid $2,694 on average, compared to $2,146 with Geico and $1,934 with USAA. Liberty Mutual had the highest rate, at $4,774. One speeding violation raised rates with American Family to $3,026, again among the lowest increases of all companies in our survey. For drivers with one accident, however, rates jumped to $3,723 on average, more than several competitors including Geico, Nationwide, State Farm, and USAA. For drivers with one DUI, the premium was $4,330, compared to an average of $4,920 for all companies surveyed.
|Driving Record||Average Rate|
|With 1 speeding violation||$3,025.74|
|With 1 accident||$3,722.75|
|With 1 DUI||$4,330.24|
Who Should Get American Family Car Insurance?
A single 25-year old unmarried female would do well to consider American Family Car Insurance, thanks to lower rates for this demographic than all other companies except USAA. Keep in mind that not everyone can purchase insurance from USAA, whose coverage is limited to members of the U.S. military, veterans, and their immediate families.
Single 25-year old males, however, might want to shop elsewhere. Several competitors, including Geico, State Farm, Travelers, and USAA, offer lower rates on average for this group. For most other gender and age groups, American Family was competitive, if not the least expensive choice.
From there, the decision boils down to factors such as your driving record, how much you travel, and your credit history.
Drivers with a clean record might want to consider adding American Family to their list of potential candidates. With an average annual premium of $2,694, American Family had some of the most competitive rates for drivers with a clean record, trailing only State Farm at $2,174 and USAA at $1,934. Drivers with one speeding violation also paid some of the lowest rates with American Family, although those with more serious offenses would probably do better elsewhere. Drivers with one accident on their record paid $3,723 on average with American Family, more than several competitors, including Geico, Nationwide, State Farm, and USAA. The same applies to drivers with one DUI, who paid $4,330 on average annually with American Family. That’s more than with Progressive, State Farm, or USAA.
Keep in mind that while American Family can save certain groups money on car insurance, they did rank last in our survey of insurance customers. You might save money but not get the kind of coverage or customer service offered by other insurers.
American Family Auto Insurance vs. Geico Auto Insurance
Last place American Family trailed fourth place Geico in scores across all questions asked of survey participants, with only customer service coming close. Respondents ranked Geico notably higher for satisfaction with ease of filing a claim, status updates, how their claim was resolved, and value. Geico scored significantly better than American Family in response to questions about how likely customers were to recommend either insurance company and how likely they were to renew their policy.
In terms of financial considerations, drivers with Geico saved about $230 annually on average compared to American Family. Geico was significantly less expensive than American Family for drivers in certain categories, such as 17-year-olds of either gender.
American Family Auto Insurance vs. State Farm Auto Insurance
Compared to third-ranked State Farm Insurance, American Family scored even worse across all categories than it did with Geico. And while American Family didn’t come close to State Farm’s scores for customer satisfaction with ease of filing a claim, status updates, how that claim was resolved, or value, the differences were even greater for how likely customers were to either recommend or renew with American Family. Here, State Farm held the biggest advantage.
State Farm was also more affordable almost across the board, with less expensive rates for most demographic groups and qualifiers. Only drivers with poor credit saw an advantage with American Family, paying $4,468 on average. That’s about $500 less annually than the $4,950 charged by State Farm.
American Family Auto Insurance vs. Allstate Auto Insurance
The difference in our survey scores was tighter between eighth-ranked Allstate and American Family, with the latter edging out the former in a couple categories. Survey participants gave American Family more points than Allstate for customer service and gave them a very slight advantage in value. Allstate held a slight advantage in all other categories.
American Family held a significant edge in cost, across virtually all categories and demographics. On average for all drivers, American Family was about $1,500 less expensive per year than Allstate ($3,443 vs. $4,888). For some drivers, the difference was more dramatic. The survey found that a poor credit history could lead to a $2,000 higher annual bill with Allstate. Young drivers also paid a steep premium, with a 17-year-old female paying nearly $3,300 more per year with Allstate than with American Family. The difference was about $2,500 for a 17-year-old male.
Types of Coverage From American Family Car Insurance
American Family offers all the standard types of car insurance coverage, including collision; comprehensive, which covers vehicle damage from storms, vandalism, and other noncrash incidents; property damage to protect you in the event of damage to another person’s property; and bodily injury, which covers you if you’re involved in a crash that results in injury to another person.
Other coverages include medical expenses for you and your passengers, personal injury protection to guard against lost income or child care costs following a crash, gap coverage to take care of any difference between your car’s value and what you owe in the event of a total loss, and underinsured motorist coverage to protect you if another driver has insufficient protection.
Other available coverages include a rental car while yours is in the shop, emergency roadside service to provide a jump-start, tire change, or tow as needed, along with emergency fuel delivery, roadside repairs, and access to a locksmith if you lock yourself out of the vehicle. Roadside assistance can be reached by phone or the MyAmFam app, which provides GPS tracking and allows you to file a claim and find an agent or repair shop.
Classic car coverage provides reduced rates for vehicles more than 20 years old in exchange for certain restrictions on use and other considerations, and American Family also offers special policies for drivers working for ride-sharing services such as Lyft and Uber.
American Family Car Insurance Complaints
Most of the written complaints we received about American Family Car Insurance had to do with cost, service, or both. More than 15 percent of survey respondents gave the company the lowest possible score for value, and a similar number of respondents said they were either unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with claim resolution and updates during the process.
“After the claim was paid for this minor fender bender, the insurance rates skyrocketed and I left the company," said one.
“Overpriced,” was the succinct comment from another, who also said, “[They] Don’t pay claims properly.”
American Family Car Insurance Discounts
American Family offers the usual assortment of discounts, including incentives for bundling a car insurance policy with homeowners, renters, or life insurance. Discounts are also available for long-term customers and for signing up for automatic payment deductions from your bank account. Customers with more than one vehicle on the same policy may also qualify for a discount, as may those who transfer their coverage from another company.
A safe driving record can qualify you for reduced rates, as can taking an approved safe driving course. Young drivers with good grades can see some special savings, as can those who are away at school or participating in volunteer work. Your car may entitle you to further discounts, depending on what safety features it has.
Other Types of Policies From American Family Insurance
Along with coverage for ordinary family cars, pickups, SUVs, and classic vehicles, American Family offers insurance for motorcycles, campers and motor homes, ATVs, boats, personal watercraft, and snowmobiles.
American Family Financial Fitness
With $24,233,000 in total assets and more than $9 billion in revenue, American Family recently celebrated its 90th birthday.
Contact American Family Insurance
You can learn more about American Family Insurance at www.amfam.com. The company can also be reached by telephone at 800-692-6326.