Erie Insurance began as a provider of auto insurance in 1925. Based out of Erie, Pennsylvania, the company expanded to Pittsburgh in 1928. However, they did not do business outside of the state until 1953, when they finally opened an office in Maryland. They began offering life insurance under the name Erie Family Life in 1967, working exclusively through their own network of independent agents. In fact, for much of its history, the company marketed its policies exclusively by word of mouth through individual agencies.
The company now operates in 12 states, as well as the District of Columbia, and has more than 10,000 licensed insurance agents operating out of 2,000 agencies. They entered the Fortune 500 list in 2003 and now boast of over $16 billion in total assets. Other benefits include:
Life insurance companies across the board seem reluctant to provide specific information about estimated monthly insurance rates. Often, this information can only be obtained by applying for an actual policy, in which case it might be more intimidating to back out. Not so with Erie Insurance. They have a handy chart on their website that shows sample life insurance rates for males and females from age 30 to 55. This is very helpful when people are considering a life insurance policy and trying to work it into their monthly budget. It is abundantly clear why Erie Insurance is willing to provide this detailed information, while many competing insurance companies are not. It's because Erie Insurance has some of the most affordable rates on the market. Though they are not the absolute lowest, they are well below average, so customers are bound to get a good deal.
Erie Insurance also has a pretty good array of life insurance types, including term, whole, universal and group life policies. Their website even breaks down the difference between these types of policies in simple language, giving an idea about who benefits most from each one in laymen's terms. For example, under Universal Life Insurance, they advise that this type of insurance is ideal for "inheritance, charitable giving, business continuation and key person coverage." This simplified breakdown can be incredibly helpful for people who get lost trying to peruse vast paragraphs of small text. In a quick glance, customers can determine which type of insurance is best for their specific life situation.
Many companies only offer life insurance policies for adults, but Erie has products for both adults and children. In fact, they will insure children as young as 15 days. They have a specific policy, Whole Life for Children, that covers people from 15 days to 17 years old. Although nobody really likes to think about getting life insurance for children, it is nice to know that the option is there.
They also offer a wide range of customer service options. Customers with questions or concerns can contact the company via phone, email, regular mail or in person. Since each individual has their own preferred method of communication, it is good to give a fully array of options. Also, their office phone hours (Monday through Friday 8am to 11pm, Saturday 9am to 4:30pm) are considerably longer than most life insurance companies. Weekend hours are rare in this industry and worthy of praise.
While Erie Insurance offers their clients a number of benefits and helpful services, there are drawbacks to their platform as well. Those considering Erie Insurance for their life insurance needs should be aware of the following items:
According to the website's disclaimer, "Coverages, exclusions, limitations, policy terms and conditions, and eligibility for insurance or discounts, may vary from state to state and each are subject to the underwriting guidelines and rules in effect for the relevant state at the time of purchase." Although this is true of most life insurance companies, it can mean that a customer who reads the website and sees a specific policy feature or added benefit that they like might find out later that the specific policy feature is not available in their area. Or they might find out that they are not eligible for a particular policy because of state rules and regulations. Specific state-by-state information is not provided, so it will have to be obtained by meeting with a company representative.
Perhaps the biggest drawback to Erie Insurance is that they are only available in 12 states and the District of Columbia. Specifically, their products are available in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Notably, they are not available in some of the more populated states, like California and Texas. This means that they are simply not an option for most people, who will be forced to look elsewhere. It's a bit surprising that Erie Insurance is not more widely available considering the fact that the company has been around since 1925. Other insurance companies of comparable age have managed to expand faster.
Finally, it should be pointed out that Erie Insurance seems to lack some common added benefits, like long-term care and disability insurance. This might be part of the reason why their rates are more affordable than many of their competitors. They do have accelerated death benefits as an added option but only on term life policies. Customers who are willing to pay a little more to get a wider array of policy options will need to look elsewhere.
Amy Decker Bloomington, IN
3 years ago