Nationwide Insurance was founded as the Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company in Columbus, Ohio in 1925. Initially, auto insurance policies were offered primarily to area farmers. In 1928, the company expanded into West Virginia then moved from farms to small towns in 1931. By 1943, they had spread across 12 states and offered policies in big cities as well as small towns and rural areas.
- Coverage features
- Customer service
Nationwide provides a good range of auto insurance policy options, including liability, collision and comprehensive coverage, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, medical payment and personal injury coverage, along with roadside assistance, towing and rental reimbursement. Policy rates are comparable to many other insurance companies.
- Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability Coverage, which is required by law in most states, covers expenses from injuring a person during an accident or, damaging their vehicle.
- Collision Coverage pays for damages to the policy holder's vehicle during an accident with another vehicle.
- Comprehensive Coverage assists in payments for damages caused by natural disasters, accidents involving animals, vandalism, and theft.
- Vanishing Deductible is an exclusive program offered to reward safe drivers by reducing the deductible by $100 for each year of safe driving, up to $500.
- Uninsured Motorist protects the policyholder and any passenger from accidents caused by uninsured drivers or a hit-and-run.
- Underinsured Motorist protects the policyholder from other drivers not having enough insurance to cover the cost of expenses incurred due to an accident.
- Medical Payments which is mandatory in some states, helps pay for the cost of medical expenses due to an accident, regardless of who is at fault.
- Accident Forgiveness Coverage helps the policyholder avoid a rate increase following their first at-fault accident.
- Roadside Assistance Coverage protects the policyholder should they need a tow, run out of gas or have a flat.
- Towing and Labor Insurance can reimburse for a tow and labor costs in order to get the covered vehicle up and running.
- Rental Reimbursement helps pay for a rental should the policy holder's vehicle take time to repair. This company typically has a specified amount using a daily limit and overall maximum.
Standard coverage options are Bodily Injury, Property Damage Liability, Personal Injury Protection, Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury and Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury. It's important to remember that each state varies is their standard coverage limit.
Nationwide's Vanishing Deductible program rewards safe drivers by reducing the size of a policy's deductible over time the longer the policyholder goes without an accident. Along with accident forgiveness, this provides people with extra incentive to drive safely, and it can lead to significant savings:
- SmartRide discount
- Nationwide family plan
- Accident free
- Paperless documents
- Good student
- Defensive driving
- Easy pay sign-up
- Accident forgiveness
- Affinity car insurance discounts
Nationwide seems committed to customer service, and they readily provide customer reviews through their own website, something which many companies will not dare to do. The member review page allows people to browse through hundreds of customer reviews, both positive and negative, for a range of auto insurance products. The fact that they allow "warts and all" reviews through their own company website speaks volumes on their willingness to be transparent and give customers accurate information.
A unique feature of Nationwide's commitment to customer service is the On Your Side review program. This review is a free annual consultation with a Nationwide Insurance agent who helps customers determine the options that are right for them and meet their budgetary requirements. They can also discuss recent or upcoming life events that might impact coverage. Lastly, the agent looks for all applicable discounts, benefits and coverage options, making sure customers are getting as much out of their policy as possible.
It should be noted that Nationwide was sued in 2014 for failing to negotiate in good faith with a policyholder and using "strong-armed" tactics. The policyholder was awarded $18 million in punitive damages. Also, Nationwide was one of a number of insurance companies that were investigated by the Florida Insurance Commission in 2012 for failing to pay death benefits to customers. Both of these incidents, while not necessarily indicative of company-wide trends, have nevertheless had a negative impact on public relations.
Of course, this problem is not limited to Nationwide but is an industry-wide weakness that is in part the result of the high level of regulations on insurance and investment companies. However, the end result is that customers who attempt to discuss problems or ask questions via social media might feel ignored or overlooked.
The Bottom Line
Nationwide provides a good array of insurance products to meet the needs of drivers from many walks of life, and they offer nice incentives for safe driving. However, the fact that Nationwide provides numerous customer reviews of their products on their own website, including negative reviews, is a mark in their favor. Clearly, they want to convey a sense of being open and honest, and it shows.
Also, they seem committed to providing customers with what they need rather than merely trying to sell the most expensive policy. The free annual On Your Side review is a clear demonstration of this, and it has the added benefit of ensuring that customers don't miss any discounts that they might be due. Policy rates are about average for the industry, meaning they don't seem particularly competitive, but they aren't outrageously expensive.