[Full disclosure: Progressive Insurance is one of our insurance partners. As such, the Horan agency receives commissions for policies Progressive 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.]
Unlike several regional insurance companies featured in our Horan Review series, Progressive happens to be a national household name. The carrier spends nearly a billion dollars annually on unique marketing campaigns, mainly featuring the fictional upbeat sales expert Flo.
So, you’re likely familiar with Progressive’s brand. But it’s probably fair to presume you know little about the company itself and the lines of insurance products it sells. Understanding what those products are, what they do, and how well they function as coverages goes a long way in determining if Progressive is a good fit for your insurance needs beyond the glitzy ads.
We’ll explore a few of those insurance products and coverages and take a peek under the hood of the famed carrier in this Horan Review. Ultimately, you can weigh the pros and cons and decide if they’re right for you. To get a good picture of the Progressive we see today, we’ll start by looking at the company’s humble beginnings.
How Progressive Insurance Started
It’s 1937 in Ohio. Two lawyers see a need for a high-risk auto insurance carrier in a US state packed with cars. Cleveland natives Joseph M. Lewis and Jack H. Green decide to form one themselves. So, with $10,000 between them, Lewis and Green launch Progressive Mutual Insurance Company in Mayfield Village, Ohio, on March 10 of that year.
The duo could have gone in other directions since they held licenses for several insurance lines, namely in the casualty space, but they chose to specialize. They only sold auto insurance, and they became so adept at selling that by 1940—a mere three years later—the company was writing annual policies amounting to roughly $100,000 (over $2 million today).
Progressive began a slow and steady expansion during the postwar years. The company insured over 25,000 new Ohioans in 1951 while it added offices in Akron, Youngstown, and Cleveland, home to its new Euclid Avenue headquarters. Five years later, in 1956, Progressive entered the casualty market and created a niche by underwriting nonstandard policies for risky drivers.
Peter B. Lewis, son of founder Joseph Lewis, borrowed $2.5 million with his mother in 1965. The two pledged their majority stake in the company to secure the loan and completed a leveraged buyout. Progressive Corporation was formed, and Peter Lewis assumed control as CEO. By 1970, Progressive was licensed in 9 US states.
The company began constructing its new headquarters in Mayfield Village the following year when it held its initial public offering of Progressive stock. By 1980, collective premiums topped $150 million and grew fivefold to $830 million in six years.
Progressive became the third largest insurance company in the US by 2003, having amassed $11.9 billion in written premiums from 12 million policyholders. The carrier started solely with auto insurance. Today, the company retains the number one spot for auto premiums in the US but is still the third-largest Property and Casualty insurer overall.
As its name might suggest, Progressive is a forward-looking company that continually innovates. They were among the first insurers to offer a buy-by-phone option and launch a website in the 1990s. That website is now cutting-edge—thanks to in-house developers and engineers—and is among the sophisticated technologies Progressive uses, like cloud computing and its usage-based insurance program, Snapshot.
Insurance Policies Offered by Progressive
Progressive Insurance offers auto, home, umbrella, and commercial auto policies in the state of New York. They also offer comprehensive coverage for specialty lines like snowmobiles, ATVs, motorcycles, boats, and tow-behinds (think fifth wheels and other campers).
You can buy direct from Progressive without going through an independent agent or broker, but you won’t get a better rate when quoted. You’ll also lack the white-glove treatment that comes with most independent agencies.
That said, Progressive’s specialty line coverages have a few unique features we’ll touch on later. But first, we’ll look at:
For auto, you’ll get the usual from Progressive: comp and collision, liability, uninsured/underinsured motorist, and so on, all of which you can read about in greater detail in our auto insurance overview.
Progressive’s auto policies typically renew at the six-month mark. And with auto claims, Progressive will look farther into the past than most other carriers, as much as five and a half years back. So if you’ve had traffic violations, tickets, or any auto claims within the past five and a half years (rather than five for most carriers), you may see a higher quoted auto premium.
A bright spot for people looking to insure with Progressive for auto is their openness to drivers whose past auto policies have lapsed. When approaching most other carriers for auto coverage, they expect to see a history of coverage within the last 15 to 30 days. If you’ve gone without insurance for longer, they won’t want to extend coverage.
Progressive is more likely to, though you’ll pay a higher price for the privilege. But you’ll be able to drive an insured vehicle.
Progressive’s homeowners policies also offer coverages you’re used to, from dwelling to liability and personal property, and more, which you can read about in our homeowners insurance overview.
Dwelling coverage for homeowners and condos starts at $100,000 and goes as high as $5 million for those with high-value properties.
Progressive also has several restrictions that prevent you from obtaining a homeowners policy. Among them are having homes with:
- Trampolines and skateboard ramps
- Swimming pools with diving boards and/or slides
- Mobile, modular, manufactured, or prefabricated construction
- No centralized heat or air source
There are other miscellaneous issues, like having galvanized plumbing or knob-and-tube wiring, but the summation is pretty straightforward. Progressive is into relatively modern homes. But then they’re a modern company.
Further down in this article, we’ll dig a little deeper by discussing what makes Progressive a good or not-so-good fit for your insurance needs.
What is the Claims Process Like for Progressive Insurance?
Progressive boasts what it calls “an easy claim experience.” We at Horan can attest that the carrier goes the extra mile to process claims efficiently with ample communication. You can file a claim directly through Progressive’s website and app or by contacting your independent agent, who is familiar with the entire process.
Progress offers detailed walkthroughs on their site, whether you’re filing an auto, home, boat, RV, or other claim through the carrier.
Progressive’s Awards and Other Highlights
In 2022, Progressive landed on Fortune’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work for, coming in at number 51. The same year, it topped the Forbes list of America’s Best Employers for Diversity.
The military marketing company Viqtory also named Progressive a Military-Friendly Employer in 2023, giving them a Bronze distinction.
The New York City and London-based international credit rating agency Fitch Ratings gave Progressive an ‘AA’ (Very Strong) for Insurer Financial Strength. It also cites the carrier’s stable outlook and ranks its underwriting performance as excellent.
The Progressive Insurance Foundation was launched in 2001 to support charities their employees care about. The company’s goal is to impact local communities where its employees—and customers—live and work.
“To help achieve this goal, we offer a charitable giving program called Name Your Cause. The program offers each of Progressive’s more than 50,000 employees the annual opportunity to recommend a favorite charity to receive a monetary gift of $100—complements of The Progressive Insurance Foundation.”
Given its many awards, the company seems like a great place to work. But considering Progressive’s high industry ratings and charitable giving, one still has to examine its policy offerings and ask:
Is Progressive Insurance Right for Me?
Progressive is a competitive insurer that uses innovative technologies to power its insurance products. If you want coverage from a carrier that is firmly planted in the twenty-first century, Progressive may be ideal for your insurance needs.
Where the carrier truly shines is with its specialty line coverages.
Central New York boat owners may appreciate that Progressive is dialed-in to coverage that is practical and tailored to how you use your vessel. For instance, the carrier allows you to add a feature called Sign & Glide, which covers you if your boat breaks down while you’re on the water.
Use the Sign & Glide app to request a tow on the water if your boat is disabled, and they’ll dispatch a tow operator to your coordinates who will have you sign an agreement. Everything else is taken care of through your Sign & Glide coverage.
Progressive also offers more coverage for fishing equipment on a covered boat than standard policies from competing carriers.
Boat owners may also appreciate Progressive’s salvage coverage.
In a wild scenario, let’s say you’re boating on Skaneateles Lake on a fine summer day. You’re sailing past the vibrant downtown waterfront and decide to pull out into the lake.
But you haven’t checked your through-hull fittings in a while and don’t know that corrosion has set in. The boat takes on water fast and sinks within minutes just after you and your guests abandon. Everybody’s safe, but the boat sinks to the bottom of the lake, leaking every kind of fluid it holds into the waters that Skaneateles and Syracuse residents drink!
The boat has to be pulled out of the water, granted, but far more is at stake: someone has to do the cleanup. But who is going to cover the cost? Well, Progressive, if you insure with them.
Where many other carriers will say, “We’ll pay to remove your boat, but whatever contamination your boat leak caused is on you,” Progressive sings a different song.
Progressive’s policy perks extend beyond boat coverage. For owners of recreation vehicles (RVs), such as motorhomes, trailers, campers, and the like, Progressive’s RV insurance offers unique things like Vacation Liability.
Say it’s late summer, and you’re camping at Filmore Glen State Park for Labor Day Weekend. You’re there to take in the Cowsheds Falls one more time before the long lazy days give way to winter.
You’ve unhooked your trailer from the truck and have a few guests over, and one of them slips while walking down the metal steps and injures her back. Such an incident would normally be excluded from your home policy, but Progressive covers you through a separate RV portion.
RV insurance also extends coverage to your personal belongings residing in the camper or trailer up to $10,000.
And for those who have given up on driving for a time and let their auto policies lapse but are ready to drive again, Progressive will likely be a good fit.
New Yorkers who own motorcycles in the state are excluded from personal injury protection (PIP) payouts. That means if you’re injured in an accident while riding, you cannot collect on your auto PIP coverage because you were on your bike.
If you hit a pedestrian and injure them, that person is covered by your PIP even though you’re on a bike, but you collect nothing for your injuries. Progressive has a fix for this. You can cover your injuries through medical payments coverage, which extends to your motorcycle.
Most insurers only offer $1,000 for medical payments coverage, but Progressive goes up to $25,000 if you’re willing to pay for it.
The company will suit owners of various toys (an ATV, snowmobile, motorcycle, and so forth), which you can bundle with a Progressive home or auto policy to receive further discounts.
Progressive may be a household name, but you may find they’re not a good fit for your insurance needs for one or more of the following reasons.
While Progressive offers comprehensive coverage for trailers, other carriers tend to fold that coverage into an auto policy. Progressive requires you to purchase a separate, relatively inexpensive policy for things like campers and utility trailers. If you don’t want to see a separate bill for your trailer, Progressive may not be a good fit for you.
If you or any household member had to seek medical attention following an auto accident, which tapped into your PIP/no-fault coverage in the last three years, Progressive will rate you based on that. During the quote process, you’ll likely see a higher quoted premium from Progressive than competing insurers.
Drivers seeking to switch from another carrier to Progressive for auto coverage should note that Progressive will likely rate you higher if coverage limits were basic or set to state minimums.
A caution for those seeking auto insurance, Progressive will not offer an auto policy to anyone who only insures one vehicle if that one vehicle is any of the following makes:
- Alpha Romeo
- Aston Martin
- Land Rover
- Mercedes Benz
- Rolls Royce
Is your house more than 100 years old? Is the roof or furnace over 20 years old? Does the home still use outdated fuse boxes? You’ll have to find another insurer for a home policy.
And Progressive won’t consider insuring a home with PEX plumbing if that home was built before 2011.
Progressive isn’t the answer to all insurance problems, though no carrier is. But for those weird little things that could and often do go wrong, Progressive either builds in coverage or allows you to purchase them separately. Having the option to spend a little extra for increased protection is a critical factor for many people, and it might be for you as well.
Not all insurers offer such sweeping policy upgrades.
Progressive is an innovative insurer offering unique coverages for a range of products in its specialty line. You’ve seen a few of their restrictions and their many benefits. You can now weigh all the options and determine whether or not their policies will fit your lifestyle and insurance needs.
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.
- Dryden Mutual Insurance Review
- Erie Insurance Review
- Main Street America Insurance Review
- NYCM Insurance Review
- Sterling Insurance Review
- Travelers Insurance Review
If you’re ready to see a quote from Progressive Insurance or other insurers in our network, click the Get a Quote button below, and one of our insurance specialists will reach out to you.