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The General Auto Insurance Review
The General insures drivers in 34 states, with a focus on those who have trouble getting affordable rates from traditional insurance companies. Its rates for drivers with a clean record tend to be above-average, though.
The General offers all major types of auto coverage, including liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage, as well as add-ons like roadside assistance and rental car reimbursement. Its coverage limits aren’t as high as what you’ll find with most insurers, though, so if you want more than $100,000/$300,000/$100,000 liability coverage, you should check out our picks for the best car insurance companies.
The General has a 24/7 claims center, but customers haven’t been thrilled with its service. There have been several complaints of delays or denied claims, so if you place a high value on customer service, you may feel more comfortable with a company like State Farm, which is known for its customer satisfaction ratings.
|Price||Varies by location, vehicle and other factors|
|Best For||High-risk drivers|
|Not For||Low-risk drivers|
Daytime running lights
Defensive driving course
Paid in full
|In Business Since||1963|
|Better Business Bureau Rating||A+|
|A.M. Best Rating||A-|
|Standout Features||Options for high-risk drivers|
Custom equipment coverage
Rental car reimbursement
Medical payments coverage
The General promises fast, anonymous online auto insurance quotes, affordable rates, and quality claims handling. It accepts most drivers, even those with less-than-perfect driving records or credit histories.
Is it True?
Pretty much. The General offers auto insurance in 34 states. It caters to drivers who are perceived as high-risk by traditional insurers — those under 20, seniors, people with a history of accidents, and those who require an SR-22 policy. If you fit into one of these categories, The General is worth checking out. But if you’re between the ages of 25 and 70, and you have a clean driving record, it may not be your best choice.
I got quotes from The General and several other major insurers and found The General was among my most expensive options.
|Insurer||State Minimum Coverage||Maximum Coverage|
You might get a different result than I did, but you’ll have to get quotes to find out. The good news: The quote process is easy and only takes a couple minutes. The General’s quotes are anonymous, so they ask for less information than most insurers. You don’t need to give out your name or address until you’re ready to purchase a policy. All you have to do is answer a few basic questions about yourself, your vehicle, and your driving history. Then you’re presented with a quote, which you can customize to your liking. Once you have the policy you want, you can buy it online.
As far as customer service goes, The General fails to impress. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, The General has received an above-average number of complaints from consumers. Issues vary from unexpected cancellation to denial of claims, to unfriendly agents. If this concerns you, you may want to check out another insurer, like State Farm, that’s known for quality customer support.
Our Deep Dive: The General Auto Insurance Review
- Top choice for high-risk drivers: If you have a history of accidents and you can’t get an affordable rate from a traditional insurance company, The General is worth considering. It accepts nearly all drivers and vehicles, regardless of your credit or driving history.
- Fast, anonymous quotes: Getting a quote from The General only takes a couple minutes. The questions are all straightforward, so you shouldn’t have to look up any information. Once you’ve got your quote, you can customize your coverage options to design a policy that suits you. You can purchase that policy online without speaking to a representative.
- Low coverage limits: The General is great if you’re looking for state minimum coverage, but it’s not a good choice for those who want higher limits. Most insurers enable you to purchase liability coverage up to $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident. The General’s liability coverage maxes out at $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.
- Protection for your vehicle: The General offers collision and comprehensive coverage, which is required by most lenders. This pays for repairs if your vehicle is damaged in an accident or natural disaster. You get to choose what you want your deductible to be, and choosing a higher one is a great way to save on your premium. If you have custom equipment in your vehicle, you can also choose how much coverage you want for that as well.
- Coverage if your car breaks down: For an extra fee, you can add towing and labor coverage to your policy. This covers the cost of towing your car to a mechanic if it breaks down. You can also add rental car reimbursement, which pays for the cost of renting a vehicle while yours is in the shop. The General also offers 24/7 roadside assistance to its customers, which is useful if you run out of gas or get a flat tire.
- Medical payments coverage: You can add up to $1,000 of medical payment coverage to your policy for an additional fee. This type of coverage pays any medical bills due to accident-related injuries, even if you were the one at fault. There’s also an optional hospital indemnity plan, which covers medical expenses as well.
- Few discounts: The General offers some basic discounts, including multi-car, pay-in-full and vehicle equipment discounts. But it doesn’t offer several options common among most auto insurers, like loyalty, accident-free or multi-policy discounts. The General does offer a unique double deductible discount, though. As the name implies, this doubles your collision and comprehensive deductible for the first 45 days of your policy, which in turn reduces your premium payments, after which the deductible returns to the normal rate.
- 24/7 claims service: Like most insurers, The General has a 24/7 claims center, so no matter when your accident occurs, you can get help right away. There’s no option to file a claim online, so you’ll have to call the company to get the claims process started.
- Convenient mobile access: The General has mobile apps for iOS and Android devices. These enable you to get or retrieve a quote, pay your bill and view important policy documents, like your ID cards. You can also access this information through your online account.
Auto insurance companies consider many factors when calculating quotes. Your age, driving record, vehicle make and model, and address all play a part in your final rate. Every company weighs these factors slightly differently, though, so you should get quotes from several different providers and compare their rates and coverages before making any decisions.
For me, The General wouldn’t be a smart move because I can get greater coverage for a lower rate with Progressive or Geico. But if you have several accidents on your record, you may find The General’s rates to be the most affordable.
Unless your budget’s really tight, you shouldn’t choose an insurer because of rate alone, however. We all hope we won’t need to use our insurance, but if we do, we want our insurer to ease the headache and handle claims quickly. Poor customer service means delays, denied claims, and a more stressful experience for you. It’s worth it to pay a little extra for quality customer support.
Cheaper (or Free!) Alternatives
All states require auto insurance, so there’s no way to avoid it. Getting caught without it will end up costing you more in fines than your annual insurance premium would’ve been in the first place, too. The easiest way to find cheap auto insurance is to get quotes from several companies and compare them, but there are some additional steps you can take to lower your rates, including:
- Limit your driving. Spending less time on the road decreases your risk of an accident, which also lowers your risk to insurers.
- Notify your insurer of life changes. Getting married or finishing college can lower your insurance premiums, so let your insurer know of these changes as soon as they happen.
- Work on your credit. A high credit score translates to a lower risk for insurers.
- Take a safe driving course. Some insurers will give you discounts if you’ve taken a defensive driving course within the last three years.
- Choose a safe vehicle. You want something that won’t attract thieves and has high safety ratings.
- Progressive: Worth considering if you’re interested in low rates. It has fewer discounts than some of the other companies on this list, but its rates are consistently affordable. It offers all major coverage options and limits higher than those offered by The General. Like the other companies listed here, Progressive also offers homeowners, renters, and motorcycle insurance, among others, so it’s a good choice if you’re looking to bundle several policies into one.
- Geico: Another insurance provider known for its low rates, Geico’s huge selection of discounts gives you plenty of opportunities to save for doing things you hopefully would do anyway, like wearing your seatbelt and avoiding accidents. Like The General, Geico offers rental car reimbursement, medical payments coverage, and roadside assistance for an additional fee. There’s also Accident Forgiveness, which prevents your rates from going up following your first accident.
- State Farm: In my quote comparison, State Farm didn’t offer the cheapest quote, but given its reputation for excellent customer service, it’s still a good deal. It also has a wide selection of discounts, so you may be able to shave a few dollars off your premium by taking advantage of these. Its Drive Safe & Save program also enables you to save by allowing State Farm to monitor your driving habits, so this is an option worth exploring if you want to get credit for being a safe driver.
What Others Are Saying
- Shaquille O’Neal said his decision to become a spokesperson for The General was motivated by personal experience: “I was a customer of The General in my college days at LSU… Like most kids starting out on their own, I didn’t know much about insurance, but The General helped me out, and I’m still a customer today.”