UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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The General Automobile Insurance Services, Inc., known simply as The General, is a Nashville-headquartered car insurance company that has been part of American Family Insurance since 2012. Today, The General continues to sell car insurance under its own brand, and the company mostly specializes in insuring high-risk drivers.
The General History
The General was founded in 1963 under the name Permanent General Agency. Later, the company rebranded itself to Permanent General Assurance Corporation or PGAC. Over the years, the company sold standard car insurance policies to customers across Tennessee and surrounding states.
In 1997, PGAC launched The General brand. The famous “The General” mascot appeared in 2000. PGAC emphasized the fact that anyone could get great, low rates online or over the phone through The General. PGAC used slogans like, “Auto insurance for less, The General says Yes” along with the better-known slogan, “For a great low rate you can get online, go to The General and save some time.”
In 2012, PGAC and all its subsidiaries were acquired by American Family Insurance. American Family Insurance decided to unify all affiliated companies under the single “The General” brand. Moving forward, The General continues to sell car insurance under its own brand while being a subsidiary of American Family Insurance. The company is still headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee with offices in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, and Texas, among other states.
The General Insurance Rankings
The General focuses on a unique subset of car insurance customers. Anyone can get car insurance from The General, but the company specializes in insuring high-risk drivers who need car insurance quickly. Because of that specialization, The General rarely scores well in customer service or pricing compared to its competitors.
The General is not ranked by J.D. Power. The General’s parent company, American Family Insurance, scores well in most J.D. Power rankings, however, ranking better than most in terms of pricing and about average in terms of claims satisfaction.
American Family also scores an “A” or “Excellent” rating from A.M. Best, indicating that the company should have no issues covering claims made by The General policyholders or American Family Insurance policyholders. Although The General scores poorly for customer service, the company is in a strong financial position overall.
What Makes The General Insurance Unique?
The General is best-known for offering car insurance to high-risk drivers. Unique features of The General include:
Auto Insurance for High Risk Drivers: If you have a poor driving record, then The General may be one of your best (or only) insurance options. The company specializes in covering high-risk drivers, including those who cannot get insurance from conventional insurance providers.
High Prices: The General specializes in insuring high-risk drivers, but that doesn’t mean high-risk drivers can access cheap car insurance. The General’s car insurance policies tend to be more expensive than other providers. However, for certain high-risk drivers, this will be their only affordable option.
Poor to Average Claims Satisfaction Ratings: The General works best for those who just want to legally drive on the road and never have to make a claim. The General scores poorly in terms of claims satisfaction and customer service. Many people have had issues with The General’s customer service and claims process.
Few Discounts or Bundling Options Available: The General specializes in selling car insurance. The company doesn’t directly sell life insurance, home insurance, or other products. And, because The General specializes in insuring high-risk drivers, few discounts are available compared to other major insurance companies.
Is The General a Good Insurance Company? Our Review
The General has more complaints than the average car insurance company of its size. You can also find plenty of complaints and poor ratings for the company online.
However, The General is a unique car insurance company: it’s not designed to have good customer service, for example, nor is it designed to offer the lowest pricing: the company specializes in insuring high-risk drivers who struggle to find car insurance from other providers.
Drivers with DUIs, multiple at-fault accidents, or a previous suspended license, for example, may struggle to find reasonable rates from other insurance companies. Or, they may have their request for insurance completely denied from other companies. You may struggle to find an insurance company willing to provide you with an SR-22. The General, however, is there: even higher risk drivers should be able to get a quote from The General.
The General works best for those who need basic liability insurance and minimal other insurance options. Yes, The General sells collision and comprehensive coverage. However, most The General policies are basic liability policies that meet your state’s minimum insurance limits and nothing more.
The General Auto Insurance Policies and Products
The General offers several unique auto insurance features, including:
Minimum Liability Insurance: Most The General policies include minimum liability insurance. Car insurance policies from The General allow you to legally drive on the road in your state, but they rarely cover anything beyond that.
Collision and Comprehensive Coverage: A basic The General insurance policy covers your liability on the road and that’s it. However, you can buy collision and comprehensive coverage through The General for additional protection for your vehicle.
Double Deductible: The General lets you double your deductible for comprehensive and collision coverage. If you make a claim, you’ll pay twice your deductible – but you pay lower insurance premiums. The double deductible option is only available for the first 45 days of your policy, and you can only do it once.
SR-22 Insurance: The General can provide an SR-22, which is a document verifying the fact that a high-risk driver has car insurance. Certain high-risk drivers require an SR-22, including drivers with multiple at-fault accidents or DUIs.
The General specializes in insuring high-risk drivers. For some high-risk drivers, this will be the only insurance company available at a reasonable rate. The General scores poorly for customer service and claims satisfaction, although it’s ideal for those with multiple claims, DUIs, or a previous suspended license.