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Erie Insurance: The Horan Review

By February 10, 2023August 17th, 2023General Topics, Personal Insurance
Erie Insurance logo for the Horan Review.

[Full disclosure: Erie Insurance is one of our insurance partners. As such, the Horan agency receives commissions for policies Erie underwrites for our clients. That relationship does not influence our opinions or evaluations of the carrier. What follows is an objective review of a company we chose to partner with for many of the reasons you’ll read below.]

If you’ve never heard of Erie Insurance or know little about the company, this review will answer many questions about who they are and what they do. You’re probably more familiar with national insurance carriers whose catchy television commercials interrupt your programming.

Erie spends little on advertising and focuses more on policy offerings, so that’s one of the reasons they’re not a household name for most people. But as you’ll see, Erie has been selling insurance for close to a century, which is why they’ve established a proven track record of trustworthiness and dependability.

A 1925 automobile insured by Erie Insurance Exchange.

How Erie Insurance Started

Erie was started by two insurance experts—Henry Orth Hirt and Oliver Grover Crawford—who worked for a company called the Pennsylvania Indemnity Exchange between 1922 and 1924. Dissatisfied with their pay and the overall work culture at the Exchange, Hirt and Crawford resigned from the company in December 1924 and set out to start their own firm.

The duo was so effective at their former employer that the Exchange hired six sales professionals to fill their void.

The Erie Insurance Exchange—Erie’s original name—launched in Erie, Pennsylvania, nearly four months later, on April 20, 1925. Hirt and Crawford—both Pennsylvania natives—drafted a rough business plan that led to 90 shareholders backing them with a combined $31,000 (or over $500,000 in today’s currency).

From accepting collect calls from customers in the early days, Erie slowly added policies and expanded its operations and coverage outside the state of Pennsylvania. Over the decades, Erie grew into a Fortune 500 company with more than 6,000 employees and 6 million active policies.

Insurance Policies Offered by Erie

Today, Erie offers a wide range of insurance products, both for personal and commercial purposes. Coverage extends to autos, boats, homes, businesses, and more. But let’s take a closer look at a few of their policy offerings.

Auto Coverage
Standard auto insurance comes with almost any insurer’s auto policy, but Erie’s “standard” includes six coverage types, which you can explore by reading our auto insurance overview.

Erie also builds in extras for those who choose to upgrade, including First Accident Forgiveness, which removes surcharges for Erie policyholders following an at-fault accident that occurs after three years with no claims. New Yorkers with Rate Protect policies from Erie bypass the three-year rule and get this perk immediately.

Erie Auto Plus is another unique perk, offering things like a Diminishing Deductible, which—as the name suggests—lowers deductibles annually for Erie drivers who have had no claims for several successive years.

Erie Insurance is licensed in Washington, DC, and twelve US states.For every claims-free year, deductibles lower by $100, bottoming out at $100 for collision and $50 for comprehensive. That means if you’ve gone five consecutive years without a collision claim, your $500 deductible drops to $100.

Having Erie Auto Plus also increases a policyholder’s roadside assistance allowance, taking your reimbursement from $75 to $125. A $10,000 death benefit is also awarded for someone who dies in or because of an accident.

Erie extends its policy savings to many young drivers under age 21 who are unmarried and still reside at home with their parents.

Another interesting auto coverage feature is Pet Protection, which ensures payment of up to $500 if your beloved furry passenger is injured in a motor vehicle accident.

And if your car is damaged in a hit-and-run while it’s legally parked and unoccupied, Erie caps deductibles for policyholders at $100. Collectively, these make for a robust series of auto coverage offerings, and we haven’t touched on each and every feature.

There are many other auto coverage benefits for licensed policyholders of all ages.

Homeowners Insurance
Erie’s base homeowners coverage, called Erie Secure, is beyond average. You get the usual:

– Dwelling (also called hazard insurance) covers the main structure of the home
– Other Structures coverage is for outbuildings like sheds and barns
– Personal Property is for certain belongings inside the house
– Personal Liability Protection, in case a guest is injured on your property
– Loss of Use or additional living expenses kicks in when your home is rendered uninhabitable during repair or rebuilding efforts

But you also get other coverage benefits that come standard, like Theft and Misplacement/Loss, which covers the mysterious disappearance of your belongings.

While your primary possessions are covered by Theft and Misplacement up to the amount it would cost to replace them, certain items—like jewelry, watches, firearms, silverware, furs, and similar possessions—are also covered up to $3,000 per item.

Erie’s standard Theft and Misplacement coverage exceeds the standard coverage of many other carriers. Erie also covers $500 worth of cash and precious metals.

If you want additional coverage for your valuables, you’ll have to schedule those precious items.

Explore the above policy features in our article detailing what homeowners insurance covers.

A unique feature of Erie’s personal liability protection allows homeowners to enjoy coverage for occasional gig work performed by their children. These temporary jobs include babysitting, newspaper delivery, caddying, lawn care, and the like. Most competing insurers require separate endorsements to offer equivalent coverage.

Where Erie raises the bar on homeowners insurance is with its Guaranteed Replacement Cost, which promises—as Erie puts it—to:

“pay for the full cost of rebuilding your house back to its previous size and specifications—right down to the granite countertops, custom bookshelves, and gleaming hardwood floors that you so love.”

You can add Guaranteed Replacement Cost to an Erie Secure policy, which covers rebuilding expenses even if the final figures exceed the home’s replacement cost listed on the policy. Bump up to the Erie Secure Home Plus Endorsement, and you get $5,000 in coverage for loss caused by Sewer or Drain Backup in New York. Underground Service Line Coverage is also covered up to $10,000.

Perks top out at Erie’s Select tier, which offers $5,000 more in Identity Recovery and Fraud Reimbursement (max $30,000) than the Advantage and Plus tiers.

The folks at Erie know that, in our digital age, identity theft is a serious and costly problem. So the Identity Recovery and Fraud Reimbursement portions include Personal Cyber Insurance, which reimburses policyholders who were extorted or suffered financial loss through a cyberattack.

Mold or fungi damage resulting from a covered peril also gets coverage from Erie, up to $50,000 for Plus and Select tier policyholders.

Erie alters its property coverage for policyholders who own, let’s say, a condo and are subject to Homeowners Association (HOA) fees. An HOA usually has a master policy that protects the property. But there are times when damage from a fire or storm is so extensive that common areas like a clubhouse and pool can cost six figures to repair or replace.

In such cases, HOAs can levy an assessment to all condo owners for $2,000 or more on top of association dues. Erie’s Loss Assessment coverage takes care of that, and similar bills up to $5,000. In Erie’s view, if a covered peril would have damaged your house, the common area damage falls within the scope of coverage for HOA members.

What is the Claims Process Like for Erie Insurance?

At the Horan agency, we can say from experience that Erie Insurance handles claims swiftly, fairly, and with ample communication. Their claims service professionals have been exceptional to work with. We have never found a time when Erie has been unreasonable about existing coverage in a claimant’s policy and how quickly they pay it.

Whether for your home, auto, or business, filing a claim with Erie can be done by contacting your agent—who will be familiar with the claims process—or through Erie’s website.

The first step will be notifying us, where an insurance expert will collect information about the claim, assign a claim number, and report it to the appropriate department. You’ll then hear from a claims manager or adjuster who will take it from there.

Erie’s Awards and Other Highlights

JD Power 2022 US Auto Insurance Study with Erie Insurance topping the list.Erie Insurance ranked high in the JD Power 2022 US Auto Insurance Study. The company actually topped the list for JD Power’s Overall Customer Satisfaction Ranking in the Mid-Atlantic with a score of 867. Erie beat out competitors like State Farm, GEICO, Allstate, Nationwide, Liberty Mutual, and Farmers.

Erie was also listed in the second annual survey of America’s Best Insurance Companies compiled by Forbes/Statista for 2023. Factors considered for the survey included Erie’s level of transparency, customer service, financial advice, digital services, performance/price, and how likely individuals were to recommend them to family and friends. Erie ranked sixth on the list, ahead of national insurance companies like Liberty Mutual and GEICO.

Erie earned an A+ (Superior) rating from the financial ratings company AM Best for financial strength in 2021. AM Best rated Erie “aa” (Superior) for long-term issuer credit, declaring its overall credit rating stable.

Charitable Efforts
Through its Giving Network, Erie donated to 975 charities in 2021 and nearly 900 charities in 2022. Many of Erie’s employees and partner agents also volunteer their time in local communities, building homes, tutoring young students, feeding families, and more.

All that said, given its awards and considering the many coverage options and perks Erie delivers, one still has to ask:

Is Erie Insurance Right for Me?

Good Fits
Erie is a great choice if you value affordable insurance from a company offering many coverage options for various policies. Those who qualify can even lock in auto insurance rates and receive discounts by bundling and paying premiums in total upfront.

Young drivers living at home with their parents or are considered good students also qualify for discounts.

If you have a small home business, you may be able to add it to your homeowners policy and extend coverage. Say you’re a music instructor, hair stylist, psychologist—or another kind of doctor—have an in-home photo studio or printshop, among other things, Erie may be a good fit for you.

Whether you have personal or commercial insurance needs, Erie has a wide range of policy offerings and options, but this is true for those who live or own items in one of the twelve states (and the District of Columbia) where the company is licensed.

Not-so-Good Fits
That leads us to the reason why a customer would not be a good fit. Anyone trying to insure items outside the states and district Erie serves cannot purchase insurance from the company.

Have you had more than one home claim in the last five years? Do you have a roof over twenty-five years old or a heating system over thirty years old? If so, Erie might not be a good fit for you. The same is true if your home has aluminum wiring.

Do you use your vehicle for rideshare purposes (think Uber and LYFT) or food delivery and other gig work in Central New York? Erie Insurance won’t be a good fit because ridesharing is excluded from New York Erie auto insurance policies.

Have you had a DWI or more than two at-fault accidents in the last five years? Purchasing an auto policy through Erie might not be possible.

If you’re someone who wants to buy direct from an insurance carrier, Erie wouldn’t be a good fit since it sells policies exclusively through its network of independent agents.

All and all, Erie Insurance is a solid company whose financial footing is stable—and has been for close to 100 years. It earned the highest rating possible from a respected rating agency—AM Best—which also noted Erie’s sustained ability to make payouts on customer claims. When choosing an insurer, financial stability is critical, and Erie is well-positioned in that regard.

If you’d like to read more Horan Reviews on carriers that serve the Central New York region, click the links below. We’ll add more review links as they become available.

If you’re ready to see a quote from Erie or other insurers in our network, click the Get a Quote button below, and one of our insurance specialists will reach out to you.

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Daniel J. Middleton

Daniel is the only fully remote staffer, but he’s as much a member of the team as everyone with boots on the ground. Daniel assures that the team is always presentable—digitally speaking—and our message clear and palatable. Click here to read more about Daniel.