July 13, 2020
Nationwide is a reliable brand name auto insurer with creative programs, standard discounts, and average customer service. Keep in mind Nationwide typically charges more than other carriers, particularly for inexperienced drivers or motorists with a complicated driving history
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Nationwide has spent nearly 95 years protecting its policyholders, starting with rural farmers. Over the years the carrier has steadily evolved to become one of the largest financial services companies in the world, with over $253 billion (with a “b”) in assets. Nationwide has developed strong financial footing by offering a broad product portfolio, including auto, motorcycle, homeowner, boat, farm, pet, life, and commercial insurance. That’s just the insurance side of Nationwide’s business. The company runs an impressive operation from its Columbus, Ohio 40-story headquarters where they also sell annuities, mutual funds, pensions, mortgages, long-term care savings, and ancillary health services.
So, do all Nationwide’s celebrity dense commercials claiming to be “on your side” hold true when it comes to the carrier’s car insurance?
We did some digging to figure out what consumers can expect from a Nationwide auto insurance policy. Check out our findings below.
Nationwide is really a collection of financial companies working together to service clients and grow their bottom line. Based on the data, it seems to be going very well. Nationwide has strong financial strength reviews from all major industry rating agencies, like A.M. Best. Below are the positive opinions within the insurance market when it comes to Nationwide’s financial health.
- A.M. Best: A+ Superior (since 2002)
- Moody’s: A-1 Highest Rating (since 2009)
- Standard & Poor’s (S&P): A+ Strong (since 2008)
This information should make most insureds feel safe about their buying coverage from the auto carrier since it means they will be able to meet their financial obligations, namely paying out claims.
Car insurance pricing is an area where Nationwide does stumble a bit. In contrast to the competition, Nationwide typically sells auto coverage for $577 more in average annual premium than seven of the other top ranked insurers. Nationwide’s big price tags on car insurance are particularly costly for young drivers, motorists with complicated driving histories (e.g. DUIs), and insureds with poor credit scores. For this reason, a Nationwide auto plan probably isn’t practical for everyone.
Of course, the auto insurer does offer some discounts as consumers have come to expect. However, the base rates are still high unlike several other brand name carriers, like Progressive, State Farm, and Esurance.
Nationwide’s CEO, Steve Rasmussen, is probably thrilled to report that Nationwide is once again a Fortune 500 business. Not to mention that the auto insurer continues to maintain an “A+” Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating. In fact, Nationwide has been an accredited BBB company since 1955.
For decades, the company worked with independent insurance agents along with captive agents that were only allowed to sell Nationwide. In 2018 the giant advised they would move away from captive agents completely within two years. This type of change can have a positive impact on customer satisfaction since independent agents are free to provide consumers with a variety of insurance options.
Of course, if a shopper prefers to work directly with Nationwide that’s fine too. The company lets the public purchase car insurance coverage online or over the phone. For busy consumers, this is a very appealing perk.
One thing that Nationwide likes to market is their annual “On Your Side” auto insurance review. All members have the option of going over their existing coverage to make sure it still meets their needs. This can be done at renewal time or whenever there’s a significant life change such as getting married or when a child gets their license. Nationwide offers this policy assessment for free. This exercise is a good chance for insureds to go over their premium costs, make sure they’re getting all the appropriate discounts, and determine if their coverage limits are still sufficient.
The 2019 J.D. Power studies revealed Nationwide is average when it comes to auto shopping and claims satisfaction. Upon reviewing the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAICS) has plenty of claims data to slice and dice. Overall, the claims complaints are below the typical volume for private passenger auto insurers. For example, the national complaint index is 1.00 and Nationwide’s recent complaint indexes for auto insurance are reported as follows: 0.93 (2019), 0.49 (2018), 0.67 (2017). Although the most recent index is creeping closer to the national average, the overall results are positive.
Nationwide relies on their famous “On Your Side” motto to help navigate the claims process. It all starts with the usual efforts to make filing a new claim simple. Policyholders can submit a claim via their online insured account, their agent, or by phoning the toll-free claims number day or night.
The company’s AutoWatch feature lets policyholders keep track of the repair process. There are pictures and a description of the work being done. Each of the 10 steps the body shop completes will trigger an update to the insured from cost estimate all the way to delivery.
In addition, insured vehicles that are repaired by one of Nationwide’s preferred auto body shops will receive a written guarantee. The warranty is good for as long as the policyholder owns or leases the car.
Since Nationwide’s premiums are on the high end, consumers will want to be sure they seek out one of the below discounts. One perk the carrier extends is shared discounts among family. All members of an insured household can share the discounts applied to the coverage. For instance, if a teen driver qualifies for the good student discount then all policy members will get the discount.
Here are a few other Nationwide auto discounts:
- Accident free (for 5 years): 10%
- Good student (Grade B or above): 15%
- Farm Bureau membership: 10%
- Defensive driving: 10%
- Anti-theft device: 5%
- Paperless billing and electronic funds transfer: $30 off
Another feature that Nationwide customers seem to appreciate is the “Vanishing Deductible” which credits the policyholder $100 for each year they go without a car accident. Over time, the deductible credits accumulate until they reach a $500 maximum. Should the motorist file a claim, Nationwide applies the Vanishing Deductible amount they earned to the deductible amount due. Once the Vanishing Deductible is used, it will reset to $100 (not $0) and begin accumulating again. Think it’s pretty clear Nationwide hit a home run with this benefit.
Nationwide sells auto products in 46 states and Washington D.C. except for Alaska, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Louisiana. The car insurer sells the usual policies like liability, comprehensive, and collision at various benefit amounts. Nationwide also has a few unique coverage options to consider too.
SmartRide: Policyholders get a 10% discount for joining the SmartRide program and then up to 40% for simply being a good driver. SmartRide is considered a usage-based insurance program that relies on the insured downloading a free mobile app. The SmartRide app tracks your trips and calculates your discount based on how safely you drive. The software is essentially looking for hard stops, speeding, and any erratic driving behavior.
SmartMiles: This is a pay-per-mile auto insurance option which is great for people that mostly keep their vehicle parked. All the benefits are the same as a traditional policy but has a flexible monthly bill that corresponds to your actual drive time. Nationwide gives their policyholders a smart device to track usage.
Nationwide is currently ranked as the 8th largest auto insurer in the United States. The company has spent nearly a century protecting Americans and their property from disasters. Although motorists might pay more for a Nationwide plan, they are getting the peace of mind that comes from a mega insurer with deep pockets backing them. Nationwide offers customers average customer service, satisfactory claims handling, and innovative programs/discounts.