The General Auto Insurance Review

The General is known for insuring high-risk drivers who may face high premiums or have trouble finding insurance elsewhere. This makes it attractive for customers with poor credit or an extensive accident history. Choosing such an insurer comes with some significant drawbacks: While most drivers will be able to get coverage, they’ll likely face steep rates with minimal protection.

In addition, while The General makes it easy to get a quote and streamlines the process of obtaining coverage, many drivers report a complicated claims process that often results in unsatisfactory payouts. This also holds true for repairs — customers have noted that The General often does its best to keep from paying for coverage it promised. If you’re at the end of the road when it comes to insurance options, The General may be able to provide you with a policy, but we wouldn’t recommend it for most drivers.

The Claim

The General claims to offer insurance for drivers with a history of accidents or driving violations, poor credit, or lapsed coverage, all at a “good price.” It also promises that you’ll get a free online quote in “two minutes or less.”

Is it true?

In some ways. The General does provide reliably low and quick quotes, but that doesn’t mean you should choose it.

The General provides insurance for high-risk drivers. If you have a hard time finding coverage elsewhere, just being able to obtain insurance may be a big draw. But the cost of such insurance can be steep — and we don’t just mean premiums. Insufficient coverage means that you might end up paying extra for accidents that you’re involved in, not only to cover costs for expenses like medical bills or property damage, but also because The General may not pay out as much as you need for repairs or claims.

The General’s coverage options are, quite frankly, barebones protections. While there are some supplemental options like roadside assistance and rental reimbursement, don’t expect the luxury of accident forgiveness. And when you need to file a claim, you’ll have to do so over the phone — though it offers live chat and online policy management, The General doesn’t allow its customers to file claims without talking to a representative.

If you have an existing history of accidents or driving violations, it’s important to recognize that you’re more likely to be involved in future accidents. If that time comes, having sufficient coverage will be essential to protect you and your assets. The General just doesn’t deliver.

Product Overview

Best for

Drivers who can't get coverage elsewhere

Not for

Customers with good driving records

Features

Price
Quotes differ from person to person
In business since
1963
Standout features
Low signing rates
Streamlined quote process
Roadside assistance
Custom equipment coverage
Discounts
Multi-car discount
Home ownership discount
Continuous coverage discount
Good student discount
Discounts for safety features like anti-lock brakes, anti-theft devices, and daytime lights
Number of states served
47 (not available in Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Michigan)
J.D. Power 2018 Insurance Shopping Study rating
Not rated
J.D. Power 2017 Auto Claims Satisfaction Study rating
Not rated
A.M. Best financial strength rating
A ("Excellent")*
Moody’s rating
Not rated
S&P Global rating
Not rated

*Rating of American Family Insurance, The General's parent company

Accessible insurance

The General’s main strength is its willingness to insure high-risk drivers, like teens, seniors, or customers with poor driving records or credit. While you might still pay high premiums for coverage, simply being able to obtain protection may be enough of a draw if you can’t find insurance elsewhere.

Quick quotes

The General boasts a streamlined online quote process that takes less than two minutes to complete, after which point you can simply purchase your policy, print your proof of insurance, and hit the road.

24/7 roadside assistance

The General offers fewer supplemental coverage options than our other picks for the best auto insurance companies, but it does include roadside assistance, a service which keeps you from being stranded on the side of the road after an accident or vehicle failure. If you’re not a member of AAA or another auto service provider which offers roadside assistance coverage, opting for supplemental coverage on your policy will provide greater peace of mind while you’re on the road.

Custom equipment coverage

This supplemental option provides protection for any custom parts you may have installed in your vehicle, like grilles, stereo systems, paint jobs, or spoilers. If you elect to purchase this coverage, The General will pay for the cost of replacing these parts after an accident (which aren’t usually included under a standard insurance policy). That said, The General does have a limit on custom equipment coverage: In California, the limit is $1,500, and in every other state, it’s $5,000.

Possible drawbacks

Hidden fees

The General advertises low rates for coverage, and many customers have confirmed that they were offered lower premiums at the outset of their policy. But after the fact, The General has been known to tack on hidden fees for things as simple as monthly billing, resulting in a rate that can be significantly higher than the initial rate you were given.

Inadequate reimbursement

Customers have also been quick to note that when they needed The General to come through, it either failed to do so or provided an insufficient and unsatisfactory resolution. For repairs, this means you may not get the amount you need — several people report sending over bills from repair shops only to receive compensation that was less than half the actual cost. Refunds for contested fees were also hard to come by, even if there was no history of driving violations or accidents.

No financial strength ratings

The General also has some red flags when it comes to its financial solvency. While A.M. Best awards an “Excellent” financial strength rating to The General's parent company, American Family Insurance, The General itself isn't rated by agencies like like S&P Global and Moody’s. In fact, it has no ratings of its own — from any agency. The Insurance Information Institute recommends choosing providers with multiple financial strength evaluations, so this complete lack of evaluation gave us pause. While The General may still have the ability to pay out on claims, it isn’t backed with the same confidence as companies with many financial strength ratings.

The Competition

The General
Allstate
Travelers
Progressive
Our review
Our review
Our review
Our review
A.M. Best financial strength rating
A*
A+
A++
A+
J.D. Power 2017 Auto Claims Satisfaction Study score
Not rated
864/1,000
851/1,000
853/1,000
Online claim filing
24/7 support

*Rating of American Family Insurance, The General's parent company

The General vs. Allstate

Allstate scored in the middle of the pack in J.D. Power’s 2018 Auto Insurance Study (mostly due to its higher premiums), but we’d still recommend it over The General. It dwarfs The General when it comes to discounts and supplemental coverage — meaning that going with The General’s cheaper sticker price doesn’t actually guarantee that you’ll pay less.

The General vs. Travelers

Travelers Insurance offers the most comprehensive coverage of any auto insurance provider we saw. It has options for accident forgiveness, GAP insurance, and special coverage for drivers employed by rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft. And while The General might give you a lower base quote, Travelers’ long list of discounts could erase that gap quickly.

The General vs. Progressive

If you’re drawn to The General because of a poor driving record or credit score, we recommend looking at Progressive first. While Progressive scores lower in financial strength and claims satisfaction than the top insurers in the industry, it offers unique discounts and supplemental coverage options specifically tailored for high-risk drivers, including a rare discount for drivers under 18. Because of its rare coverage options and financial strength ratings, Progressive is likely a better option than The General for most drivers.

The General FAQ

How do I file a claim with The General?

The General lets you file claims by phone or through its relatively new mobile app. While most auto insurance companies have an option for online filing, this is currently not available from The General.

What company owns The General?

The General is a subsidiary of PGC Holdings Corp, which is in turn owned by American Family Insurance. All of its policies are underwritten by American Family Insurance, which has a financial stability rating of A (“Excellent”) from A.M. Best.

What do I need to get a quote from The General?

The General doesn’t ask for any identifying information when you request a quote online. You’ll just need to answer a few questions about your driving history, vehicle, and basic personal information like age, gender, and marital status. The General claims that it takes less than two minutes to complete the quote process, and we found this to be an accurate estimate.

The Bottom Line

The General is intended for drivers who may face steep rates from other insurers, but that doesn’t mean it will be able to provide those drivers with the protection they need. Few coverage options and a history of complicated claims resolution keeps us from recommending The General. Even if it offers lower rates than the competition, you might eventually get hit with unexpected fees that drive up the price of your coverage. If you can avoid it, you should — there are better insurance options out there.