Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Geico vs. Progressive

So, yesterday we got our bill for the six-month renewal of our car insurance from Geico. This was the first premium we've had to pay since I got in a car accident a few months ago. The premium had increased by $142 for six months. That's more than $23 more per month. That seems like a lot, especially right now when we're trying to save money.

Also, I'm not thrilled with Geico right now. I mean, from what I've heard from other people we should just generally be glad that they accepted our claim and paid for everything except our deductible, and we did find that they handled the claim well (except for the part where they stranded us in a parking lot for a couple hours after the accident, but I think that was the rental car company's fault) and were polite and efficient on the phone.

BUT. They referred us to one of their "preferred garages," meaning a collision shop where there's a Geico adjuster on site, and they pay directly for the repairs (post-deductible), rather than us having to pay and be reimbursed. We figured this would be a good plan since if there was a problem, we would have recourse with both the garage and with Geico.

And, well... I mean, maybe that's true. The garage fixed the car. It looked good when we got it back. Except for a couple small things:
  • When we picked up the car, the brakes were wonky. It felt like there was air in the brake line or something. When we called the garage about this, they said they hadn't worked on the brakes so it couldn't have been their fault.
  • The windshield now has a bunch of tiny scratches on it from where they rubbed it with a dirty cloth. We have no way of proving that they did this, even though we know the scratches weren't there before.
  • The driver's side lock, though functional, always remains in the locked position, whether it's locked or not. When I called them about this, they told me to come in any time so they could take a look. When I came in, they looked at it and told me they'd have to tear the door down to find out what the problem was, and they didn't have time to do it that day, so I'd have to make an appointment to come back, AND THEN after that I'd need ANOTHER appointment to have it fixed once the part came in. Which is good and well, but why did they tell me to just come in whenever in the first place? Everything that happened when I brought the car in could have been discussed over the phone. What a freaking waste.
  • The panel below the glove compartment on the passenger side fell off one day a couple weeks after we got the car back. Turned out one of the latches that holds it in place was broken, most likely by a mechanic who was in the car and kicked it by mistake. Torsten managed to wedge it back in place, so it's not a big deal, but when I told the garage about it, they said they hadn't worked on the inside of the car so it couldn't be their fault.
  • The hood, which they replaced, now has a small crack in it, which needs to be repaired so it doesn't rust. It looks like a tension crack caused by a shoddy paint job. However, when I showed it to the guys at the garage, they said that it was caused by something falling on the hood. We have no way of proving what caused it, so it's our word against theirs, and guess who wins when that happens?
  • Also, not that this is a big deal, but when we got the car back the trunk was full of trash. Plastic, empty boxes, old seat belt mechanisms. Obviously we just threw it away ourselves, but isn't that weird? Why wouldn't they just toss the trash in their own dumpster?
This garage, it's worth noting, offers what they call a lifetime guarantee on their work. So, to recap: five problems with the car, two relatively serious (brakes and hood), and the only one they're willing to fix is the door lock, which is the least important. And there's nothing we can do about this.

After talking to a few other people about our experience, I've come to the conclusion that the way Geico is able to charge so much less than other insurance companies is through using shoddy garages that cut corners. We didn't know this before, and of course we have no confirmation still, but let's just say that I would never use that garage again, ever. And I'm not so impressed that Geico referred us there. But Geico was SO much cheaper than everywhere else, so maybe we would have gone with them even if we had known? Who knows.

ANYWAY, now that they've raised our rates considerably, guess what! They aren't the cheapest anymore! I was able to get the exact same policy with the exact same levels of coverage with Progressive, after informing them of the details of the at-fault accident, for $58 less over six months. That's $116 less than we'd be paying with Geico per year. Of course, it's still $170/year more than we were paying before the accident, but oh well. There's nothing we can do about that.

Also, even though I didn't really want to do this considering that we aren't big fans of Geico anymore, I did call Geico to tell them about the Progressive quote and find out if they were willing to match it. They weren't. And that settled it.

So! We are now insured with Progressive. Or at least, we will be, starting in February. And I could not be happier to be leaving Geico behind.


  1. Oh, I HATE situations like that one with the garage. I know the best thing to do is to chalk it up to experience, go get the car fixed at a better garage, but those kinds of situations make me so angry I want to go back and complain and try to MAKE them fix the things they broke! Good luck with Progressive. I really hope things work out.

  2. I worked for State Farm in auto claims about a decade ago. And I've got to say, the training I received there and what I learned through dealing with other insurance companies is information I will carry with me for life.

    What I learned: you really do get what you pay for. No insurance company is perfect. There will always be decisions that policy holders don't agree with. But, State Farm, Allstate and a select few others really do treat their customers MUCH better than Geico and other discount insurers. There's plenty of reasons why the likes of Geico are able to offer less (worse outcomes on claims, worse customer service, worse relationships with garages, etc.).

    From what I remember, Progressive was viewed alright by my co-workers, though they were relatively new when I worked there, so there wasn't much evidence one way or another. One thing to find out is whether your insurance company will raise your rates on accidents that aren't your fault. State Farm doesn't, however other insurers do. It's their way of keeping rates low at the beginning and hiking them the minute anything happens.

  3. I had three wrecks within a two-year time frame--ALL my fault (Oh! Mother-of-three post-partum stress!). Geico did raise our rates after the first two (they were two months apart!), but not as much as I feared. And I'm not even sure that they did raise them after the third time--no more than our rates get raised during a "normal" year.

    The garage Geico referred us to happened to be the dealer where we bought our mini-van, so it's probably where we would have taken the mini-van even if it wasn't "preferred." All three times they did a super job. All three times they thoroughly fixed the problem plus detailed the mini-van--yes, vacuumed and cleaned out the inside of the mini-van, too.

    It sounds as if you got a garage that doesn't pay as much attention to detail. :-( And if Geico is going to raise your rates that high and then NOT try to match their competitor, then yes, I'd leave them, too! But our experience with them has been good so far....

    That being said, we have used Progressive before, and we were pretty happy with them, too (Although I didn't have a wreck while insured under them, so I can't compare those experiences!).

    Even though you're leaving Geico, you might want to call them and tell them about the shoddy work from the garage. The complaint may come to nothing--or it may help Geico decide to switch garages for future customers!

  4. My husband and I have been with State Farm forever. I know that people think they are super expensive, but I don't really think they are. My husband has been with them since he was 16. I joined his policy when I was 23 and he got a discount for a multi person plan. At 25 we got further discounts for being married and for turning 25. Then at 25 we also bought a house and put the house on our policy. That gave us a discount on both our home owners and our auto. I think when we turn 30 or have a child we get another discount. We pay about $100/ month for two cars and the coverage is AWESOME. Every issue we have ever had was resolved so quickly and with really good customer service. In that time, my husband has had one little fender bender that was his fault, no raise in rates. He also had a deer totally mangle the front of a vehicle and no raise in rates. They also cover rental cars, towing and lock outs. I know this is all part of the coverage that we have chosen but for about $50 a vehicle a month, it seems worth it. Lock outs can cost $50 - $75 and towing is in the hundreds.

  5. WOAH! I just read CAQuincy's comment about Geico and their yearly rate increases, um huh? That is insane. Ours have only gone down since we have been accident free and gotten older. It seems crazy that they raise their rates with little reason other than it's a new year!

  6. It's so cool that there are posts like these just OUT THERE for people to read. I love the Internet.

  7. Gah insurance is so frustrating! I've had State Farm since I started driving (9 years ago) and they're wonderful. I also have renter's insurance through them. I've always been really impressed with their level of service and I don't think the rates are exorbitant. I hope Progressive works out for you guys!

  8. I've never had issue with Geico, but then again I've only used them for towing services: a flat tire on the interstate, a bad battery, a leaking something that shorted my something-or-other and a fuel pump switch that went out IN my driveway... All the repairs were things I had to eat anyway. From a towing perspective they are slow as molasses (particularly on Christmas Eve in Wisconsin when it's like 10 degrees out I'll have you know), but it ended up that the guy they sent gave me a tire that was better than the ones already on my car for $20 straight. So, I can't complain, but I've also never had a good reason to use them. *knocks on wood*

  9. Trash in the trunk...wha? "Oh, this car's trunk is open, let's just throw the crap in there"...?

  10. I use Progressive, and I used one of their in-house car fixer upper places.... my car has not been the same since.


  11. ok, the trash in the trunk one is really weirding me out. WHY would they do that? WHY? were they trying to get someone else to dispose of EVIDENCE or something?? (someone here watches too much CSI...)

  12. Another awesome thing about Progressive is they cover your pet as well if your pet is with you when you are involved in an accident, which is nice for a little bit of extra piece of mind. We have Progressive for my honey's car and have been really happy with it. When someone broke into her car they came to us, checked out the car & referred her to a glass repair company that came out to her workplace to do the repair work. I've been with Pemco forever, but I should do another rate comparison & see if it would be worth it to switch my coverage to Progressive too.

  13. I can't stand the insurance game. I was with State Farm since I turned 16, then tried to add B to my policy and they were mean - because he was a guy and under 25 at the time. So we went to Geico (his insurance) for about $300 less every 6 months. It's never easy.

  14. I hate insurance companies SO MUCH. When I got run over by a drunk driver, LITERALLY, and he plead guilty in court, I still had to fight his insurance company for THREE YEARS just to get my medical bills covered. And they only did that when I finally filed suit in court. ASSHOLES.

    I hope Progressive is much better!

    Trash in the trunk? THAT IS UNACCEPTABLE.

  15. I've been with State Farm for 30 years. And since I drive an older model car and qualify for an "accident free" discount, I get a really good rate. I also like that they will issue policyholders a rebate in any year where their paid claims come in lower than expected.

    Years ago I had a guy sue me in small claims court for an accident HE caused, and State Farm sent an attorney to represent me. That's service, in my book!

  16. Oh man that sucks! did it seem to you that the garage broke more things on your car so that you would have to take it back in? I think some garages do that. Especially if they are dealing with women. Because they think women are chuckle heads or something.

    I personally recommend State Farm. We have been with them for years and we get excellent customer service! It's awesome stuff!

    At least you guys figured everything out though. I am so sorry you had to deal with that! That kind of stuff is always a pain!


  17. Yikes. I agree with Tess, I'm glad these types of things get posted!

    Not that you asked for reviews of Progressive, but in case you're up for an anecdote: we had an accident ($11K in damage to our car) in 2005 with Progressive coverage. They kind of made it a pain to actually deal with them, but never rejected our claims and they did paid all our costs (except that the car took SO long to fix that we ran out of rental coverage, and while I've been told some insurance companies will extend that gratis, Progressive basically responded with "sucks to be you!"). Anyway. The one thing we dealt with with them was horrible communication. They actually switched our claims adjuster and moved our claim to legal without telling us. The result was, we had been contacting the wrong person for information, and she never bothered to call us back to tell us she was the wrong person to call. Not unmanageable, just annoying especially given how shaken we were by the whole "ricocheting across a busy Los Angeles highway in a tiny car and then hitting a huge concrete wall" experience.

    Anyway. At the end of the day I was glad they paid out our claim without too much fuss, and I figured that the tradeoff for the savings they offered was that I'd have to hound them for information/service when needed.

    Incidentally they did not raise our rates the period after the accident, which they deemed to be 20% our fault (not sure how they decided that, given that we were rear-ended at high speeds, but that's another story).

  18. Hot topic. I was with Traverlers, and for me, a single 26 year old female with a perfect driving record, I was paying $1600 a year. WHAT?1?!? Insane. So I researched, and I got Geico for $870 a year. Big difference!

    And yes, Travelers used to raise my rates every year just because it was a new year. That's how I got into paying $1600 a year!

    So far so good with Geico, but it's only been 6 months. Knock on wood!

  19. After my first accident last year (the only one of the three that was my fault), I had to get a new car. New car, accident (even though since no one was hurt they said it wouldn't affect it that much), and switching over to my own plan instead of being on my parents' meant a HUGE jump in rates. As soon as this most recent accident is resolved at the body shop, I'll be looking for other insurance. But I sort of have the opposite problem in that I LOVE the body shop and they're specifically Farmer's affiliated, I think.

  20. The trash in the trunk thing would have put me over. the. edge.

    Oh, and Progressive has better commercials anyway.

  21. GAh! I hate when car accidents keep following you around, like the initial shock and trouble to fix the car isn't enough.

    I have several friends who have Progressive and apparently Progressive in our state requires that you go to an " Progressive approved" mechanic. This has turned into quite a hassle for several friends where they have to spend a great deal of time getting to and from these distant "approved" shops. And they turn out to be terrible shops that do cheap work. One caused a leaking problem that has been ongoing for years that wasn't there before the shop had the car.

    My experience with Geico has been the opposite than yours. They sent an appraiser to our house and cut a check that was sent in the mail prior to us needing to pay the shop. They did offer to send us to an "preferred" shop, but we declined.
    I always go with a mechanic that has great reviews online or one that someone can suggest personally.

    Geico has never raised our rates even with the one accident that was shared fault, it seems like they have actually gone down over the past couple accident free years.

    I would honestly call Geico and report this terrible experience that you had with their "Preferred" garage. Tell them that you are leaving Geico because of this experience and because of the rate raise. They may not do a thing but it may make them aware that this garage is not a place to send people.

    Sorry you had such a lame experience with the garage. That is maddening!

  22. I'm not sure if its different state by state but in california you have the right to pick your own shop and they have to pay them. Or at least cut you a check and then have you pay them. Even if there is additional cost they have to send their adjusters out there. I have a friend who is an adjuster and another one who teaches a body shop class so i went with their recommendations.

  23. That sucks about the crappy garage.

    I had Geico for a year when I lived in Phoilly. What a joke. I finally called other companies and foundthat I could pay HALF with Liberty Mutual. In fact LM has a lot of discount programs- I could get a % off because of my undergrad school, the bar association and law school. Too bad I can't put all of the discounts together, but we have been really happy with them.

  24. Sanjeev: i am with Progressive, i met with an accident, they increased my policy rate by 20$, i got a quote from Geico they rate is 40$ more than Progressive policy per month. i have saved atleast 240$ for 6 month period

  25. Allstate, GEICO, and progressive are all good, but not that cheap. if ur looking for bare minimum coverage at a cheap rate, i think u should look elsewhere. usaa has consistently been the cheapest in the country, but it's only for military members. for the rest of the population, 4autoinsurancequote.com has been advertising $35/month liability coverage here on the radio. might wanna google them and check 'em out.

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