21st Century Auto Insurance Review

21st Century is a subsidiary of Farmers Insurance that offers budget-friendly policies to drivers in California and Hawaii. Compared to larger companies, 21st Century’s coverage options are relatively limited, and it doesn’t provide many educational resources. But if you’re looking for cheap, customizable auto insurance without the bells and whistles, it’s a viable alternative to the bigger brands.

The Claim

21st Century promises “24/7 customer service, detailed policy coverage options, quality claims service powered by Farmers, and helpful ways to save.”

Is it true?

Mostly.

Customer service is available 24/7 over the phone (including roadside assistance via 21st Century’s mobile app), but 21st Century isn’t as easy to reach online. Though the company offers “expert guidance” through a screen-sharing feature, its standard online chat function is limited to California residents, and only during limited hours Tuesday through Friday. Its website also doesn’t list any physical locations for customers who’d like to speak with an agent in person; however, since 21st Century is owned by Farmers Insurance, agents of the latter company are available to help customers of the former in California and Hawaii.

21st Century does offer standard coverage options, including comprehensive, collision, liability, and uninsured/underinsured motorist — all of which can be purchased, added, or dropped online. Plenty of discounts are also available for safe drivers, students, and vehicle safety features. But the main advantage of 21st Century over other small insurance companies is its relationship with Farmers, which handles 21st Century’s claims customer service.

That said, 21st Century only ranked 18th out of the 23 leading car insurance providers in the J.D. Power 2018 Auto Claims Satisfaction Study. That’s lower than the industry average, though still higher than Progressive and Liberty Mutual. In a different J.D. Power survey ranking customer satisfaction with auto insurance purchases, 21st Century came in second-to-last in the 2017 list before failing to appear in the 2018 edition. Although your individual experience will vary, these stats bode poorly for 21st Century’s promise of good service.

Product Overview

Best for

California and Hawaii drivers who want cheap auto insurance

Not for

People looking for lots of coverage options and add-ons

Features

Price Quotes differ from person to person
In business since 1958 (purchased by AIG in 2005, Farmers Insurance in 2009)
Standout features Cheap coverage options
Good claims support via Farmers Insurance
Online policy management
24/7 customer service
Discounts Clean driving record discount
Multi-vehicle discount
Drivers education discount
Good grades discount
Defensive driving course discount
Automobile safety features discount
Safe driver discount
Number of states served 2
J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study rating 829/1,000
Below industry average
J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study rating 853/1,000
Below industry average
A.M. Best financial strength rating A ("Excellent")
Moody's rating N/A
S&P Global rating A ("Strong")

Nice selection of driver discounts

21st Century offers several ways to save money on your auto insurance policy, including discounts for safe driving, insuring multiple vehicles, and paying your premiums in advance. If you drive fewer than 15,000 miles in a year, you’ll be eligible for 21st Century’s low mileage discount. Family and good student discounts will be appealing for parents looking to add their teens to their auto insurance policy. In addition, you can also save if you’re a member of the U.S. military or if you remain with 21st Century for an extended period of time.

Gap insurance and new car replacement

If your car is totaled in an accident, 21st Century’s gap insurance coverage ensures that you aren’t stuck paying for the remainder of your car loan by paying the difference between the value of your car and the balance remaining on the loan. If your car is less than one year old at the time of the accident, 21st Century will also replace it with a brand new model.

Design and manage your policy with ease

21st Century’s online quote tool makes it easy to find and purchase insurance. Just answer a few questions about yourself, your vehicle, and your driving history, then adjust your coverage options until you find a suitable policy. Once you’re happy with your policy, you can purchase it directly online. If at any time you need to edit your policy, you can easily do so through your 21st Century online account. Adding a driver, replacing a vehicle, or viewing your billing information can all be done with just a few clicks.

Possible drawbacks

No mechanical breakdown coverage

If your car suffers a mechanical breakdown, you will have to pay for the repairs yourself — 21st Century auto insurance doesn’t cover mechanical repair costs that go beyond routine maintenance. Although this is not uncommon among auto insurance providers, there are still several companies that do offer this type of coverage. If this coverage is important to you, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

No Accident Forgiveness program

Because 21st Century auto doesn’t offer Accident Forgiveness, getting into an accident guarantees a rate hike. Almost every major auto insurance provider has an Accident Forgiveness program, so it is a little surprising that 21st Century doesn’t.

The Competition

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21st Century
Allstate
State Farm
Our review
Our review
Our review
A.M. Best financial strength rating
A+
A+
A++
J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study rating
853/1,000
857/1,000
865/1,000
Number of supplemental coverage options
10
12
8
Number of discounts
7
11
10
Online claim filing
24/7 support

21st Century vs. Allstate

Allstate is one of the largest insurance providers in California and Hawaii, and due to its national footprint, it hosts in-person agents in all 50 states. This is particularly beneficial if you require a more robust support system, which 21st Century fails to provide. Allstate also scored slightly better than 21st Century in J.D. Power’s claims satisfaction surveys, although there is one catch: 10 states (including California and Hawaii) are exempt from Allsate’s “Claim Satisfaction Guarantee,” meaning you are not eligible for a refund if you’re unhappy with your auto claim. Allstate’s premiums also tend to run higher than average, so you might pay more for Allstate than you would for 21st Century. We recommend comparing coverage options and quotes from both companies before making your decision.

21st Century vs. State Farm

More than 14% of Californians use State Farm for auto insurance, making it the state’s most popular provider. If you’re concerned about 21st Century’s lower-than-average rating on the claims satisfaction survey, State Farm has you covered, scoring higher than the industry average. And if you prefer meeting with agents in person, State Farm has more than 18,000 agents available in all 50 states. However, while the price you pay for car insurance depends on a variety of factors, you might pay a little more for State Farm’s resources and services — and its mobile app could use some work. We recommend gathering quotes from both companies as you begin your search for the best auto insurance.

21st Century Auto Insurance FAQ

What do I need to get a quote from 21st Century?

21st Century requires more information than most insurance providers we’ve reviewed. You’ll need:

  • Personal information (name, address, phone number, email)
  • Your vehicle’s year, make, and model — or just your VIN (Vehicle Information Number)
  • Estimated annual mileage
  • Any modifications to your vehicle
  • Occupation
  • Marital Status
  • Any additional drivers
  • Driver’s License Status
  • Home ownership status
  • Any accidents in the last five years
  • Traffic violations in the last three years
  • Any major violations involving drugs or alcohol in the last 10 years
  • Supplemental coverage choices

Does 21st Century cover Uber/Lyft drivers?

No, 21st Century doesn’t cover “commercial” drivers, even in privately owned vehicles. However, its parent company Farmers Insurance does.

What states does 21st Century operate in?

Currently, 21st Century only offers new auto insurance policies in two states: California and Hawaii.

How is 21st Century related to Farmers Insurance?

21st Century Insurance was founded in the San Fernando Valley in 1958 to primarily serve California drivers. AIG purchased the company in 2005 but sold it to Farmers in 2009 amid the financial crisis, when AIG needed to pay off its government loans.

Why does that matter? It means that today, 21st Century policyholders have the entire Farmers claims support infrastructure at their disposal. In 2009, Farmers CEO Robert Woudstra put it this way: “This acquisition will enable 21st Century customers to have access to Farmers agents, who can help them with their other insurance needs, such as homeowners, business, specialty products, life insurance, and financial service products.”

The Bottom Line

Across most consumer surveys, 21st Century doesn’t rank as high as larger companies like State Farm or Allstate, and it doesn’t provide quite as many coverage options or add-ons. It’s also one of the only providers we’ve reviewed without an Accident Forgiveness program. But on the whole, its premiums are cheaper than big-name companies, and if you need to submit a claim, you have the entire Farmers system at your disposal. So if you’re looking for cheap, no-frills car insurance in California or Hawaii, 21st Century might be your best choice.

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