Universal Property & Casualty Review: Homeowners Insurance Complaints, AM Best, BBB, & JD Power Ratings

Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company (UPCIC) has been a major insurer of homes and residential dwellings in Florida, but has in the last few years expanded to offer homeowners & other property insurance through independent insurance agents in other states, including Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana (starting in 2015), Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire (approved as of Dec. 2015), North Carolina, Pennsylvania (first policy in the Keystone State sold in 2015), South Carolina, Virginia (authorized in the state as of July 2015), West Virginia, and now New Jersey & New York (authorized in these states as of March 2016), with plans to expand to more states in the future. I previously wrote a review of Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company’s Florida complaint record, so the purpose of this review is for people considering or insuring with UPCIC in states other than Florida.

If an independent insurance agent recommends you buy property insurance from Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company, the information in this review can help you decide if UPCIC is right for you. I’ll review the AM Best or Demotech financial strength ratings, JD Power customer satisfaction ratings, and Better Business Bureau ratings for Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company, including its home insurance complaint record from all states over the last six years.

My review summary will give you my opinion if Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company is performing better than average, average, or worse than average, compared to its competitors. The wise insurance buyer shops for the best combination of coverage, price, and service, so be sure to use the ad below this paragraph (or the ad at the end of this review) to get price quotes from multiple insurance companies and find the best insurance company for you.


Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company Review

As I mentioned above, I have a separate review about Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company for Florida residents, which if you live in Florida, own a home there, or you are going to buy a house or condo in the Sunshine State, you can read here. The Florida home insurance market is a unique market with many challenges for property owners, so the decision for Florida property owners to choose Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company is different than choosing to insure with the company in other states. This review is for property owners in the states of Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and other states as Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company continues to enter new markets.

This Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company review is divided into six parts, consisting of: 1. A company overview of its history, website, and how to get a property insurance quote, 2. The AM Best or Demotech financial solvency ratings for Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company, 3. The JD Power customer satisfaction ratings and BBB rating for Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company, 4. the homeowners insurance customer complaint record for Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company over the last six years, 5. Competing insurance companies which may be a better option for you than Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company, 6. a Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company summary about its homeowners insurance rates, and my opinion rating its claims & customer service as average, better than average, or below average, based on its annual homeowners insurance complaint record & ratings over the last few years.

1. Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company History & Website

Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Universal Insurance Holdings, Inc., a publicly traded company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company is focused on selling homeowners insurance, and although it was established in 1990 to transfer policies out of the Florida Residential Property and Casualty Joint Underwriting Association, and sell property insurance in Florida only, but it is now available in these eight additional states through independent insurance agencies appointed to represent the company: Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company recently received a certificate of authority to operate in Pennsylvania, and in updating this review, how now sold its first homeowners policy in the Keystone State. Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company plans to expand to additional states in the future. Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company sells renters, condominium, dwelling, other structures, and personal liability coverage, in addition to its main line of homeowners insurance.

Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company is available through a network of nearly 7,000 independent agents, with offices located in communities throughout the ten states where it now operates. Most of the approximately 551,000 homeowners and dwelling fire insurance policies (as of November 2014) belonging to its parent company, Universal Insurance Holdings, Inc, are insured by Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company.

Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company customers can manage their policies online through the company website, to pay bills, see policy information, and report claims or check their status. Although price quotes for a homeowners, condo, renters, or dwelling fire policy can be requested through the website, it’s best to contact an independent insurance agency authorized to represent the company to get an insurance quote, and agents near you can be located through the company website. Independent insurance agencies usually represent several companies, and can discuss with you which one they represent might be best for you.

Source: Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company & Universal Insurance Holdings websites

2. Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company AM Best & Demotech Financial Ratings

AM Best, the most well-known of the insurance company rating agencies, does not rate Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company. This is not unusual for AM Best to not rate smaller or newer insurance companies.

However, Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company is rated by a company called Demotech, Inc., which rates some smaller or newer insurance companies not rated by other insurance company rating agencies, like AM Best, Moodys, Fitch, Weiss or Standard & Poor. Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company had its A (Exceptional) Demotech financial stability rating affirmed on 11/24/2015. The rating of “A” is the third highest Demotech rating.

Although in Florida it may be hard to find an insurance company with an AM Best rating willing to insure your home, homeowners free of recent claims in most areas of other states should not have a problem qualifying for homeowners insurance from multiple companies with AM Best ratings of “A-” or better. I prefer to avoid insuring with any homeowners insurance company or subsidiary with no AM Best rating, and those companies with less than an A- rating for financial strength from AM Best.

3. Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company JD Power Ratings & BBB Rating

JD Power Customer Satisfaction Ratings

Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company, like many other smaller regional insurance companies, does not have enough customers at this time in any one state, region, or nationally to be included in any of the recent annual JD Power insurance customer satisfaction studies, which evaluate the largest national and regional auto or homeowners insurance companies in the USA. Not being included in a JD Power insurance study does not make an insurance company better or worse than large or JD Power rated companies, but it does make it harder to evaluate the quality of customer service provided by a company not rated by JD Power, like Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company.

Better Business Bureau (BBB) Rating

Although most customer complaints are best directed toward a customer’s state department of insurance, the Better Business Bureau is a well-known and popular choice for consumers filing complaints against a company. If many customers are having so much trouble resolving an issue with their insurance company, they take the time to contact the Better Business Bureau about it, it’s a pretty good sign customers in general may be unhappy with the service provided by their insurance company. If a lot of complaints are made to the BBB about a company, in greater numbers than similar-sized insurance companies, it’s reflected in the BBB rating, and is one indicator the company may have more dissatisfied customers than some of its competitors.

Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company is rated “B+” by the Better Business Bureau, which is the fourth highest rating from the BBB, and the company is not currently BBB accredited. Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company has 77 BBB complaints in the last three years, with 27 complaints occurring in the last 12 months. 55 complaints were for the category of a problem with service, 14 complaints were for billing / collections issues, 5 complaints were for the advertising / sales issues, 1 complaint was for guaranty/ warranty issues, 1 complaint was for delivery issues, and 1 complaint was listed as “other.” All complaint has been closed and resolved according to the BBB.

The Better Business Bureau states the reason for the lower rating is because of Government action(s) against business. The government action referred to by the BBB may be the substantial fine imposed by the State of Florida against Universal Property & Casualty Company for delaying claims payments, as reported in this Insurance Journal article, Florida Fines Universal P&C Co. $1.26M.

I don’t trust an A+ BBB rating to be a reliable indication of a good insurance company, but a lower than “A” rating should be considered as a sign of below average customer service. The lower Better Business Bureau rating (as of 1/26/2015) for Government action(s) against the business should be a concern for its customers, as well as the company fine imposed by the state of Florida in 2013 for delayed claims payments.

Source: BBB ratings for Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company

4. Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company Homeowners Insurance Complaints

The home insurance (homeowners, condominium-owners, and renters) complaint statistics for Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company listed below were calculated by the NAIC, and display the ratio of the company’s U.S. Market Share of closed complaints compared to its U.S. Market Share of premiums for a specific policy type (in this case, homeowners, condominium-owners, and renters insurance). Complaint ratios lower than “1” have less complaints than average, and complaint ratios over “1” have more complaints than average. The lower the complaint ratio, the less complaints against the company. Ideally, you want to choose an insurance company with complaint ratios much less than 1.00 each year, over the last three years.

So you don’t have to worry about comparing complaint ratio numbers, I devised a rating system to help you identify a good or poor complaint record.

Here’s how I establish my homeowners insurance complaint ratings:

B = Better than average. Insurance companies with complaint ratios less than 75% of the average insurance company.

C = Average. Insurance companies with complaint ratios from 75% to 125% of the average insurance company. I use a minus sign (-) to indicate auto insurance complaint ratios slightly worse than average (1.01 to 1.25) and a plus sign (+) for auto insurance complaint ratios slightly better than average (.99 to .75).

W = Worse than average. Insurance companies with complaint ratios more than 125% of the average insurance company.

Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company Homeowners Insurance Complaint Statistics & Ratings

B = Better than Average C = Average W = Worse than Average

2014 Home Insurance Complaint Ratio = W (4.39)

2014 US home insurance premium = $724,639,793

2013 Home Insurance Complaint Ratio = W (1.86)

2013 US home insurance premium = $717,341,910

2012 Home Insurance Complaint Ratio = C- (1.01)

2012 US home insurance premium = $717,105,304

2011 Home Insurance Complaint Ratio = W (1.28)

2011 US home insurance premium = $671,610,864

2010 Home Insurance Complaint Ratio = W (1.77)

2009 Home Insurance Complaint Ratio = W (1.66)

2008 Home Insurance Complaint Ratio = W (2.29)

Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company had a worse than average number of homeowners insurance complaints in five of the most recent seven years (2008 – 2014) where reliable NAIC complaint statistics are now available. I prefer to choose insurance companies with a consistent better-than-average annual complaint ratio for at least the most recent three year period.

5. Home Insurance Company Alternatives to Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company

Given its lack of an AM Best Financial Strength rating, its complaint record, its BBB rating, and recent fine in 2013 by the state of Florida for delayed claims payments, many property owners in states other than Florida have better home insurance companies available to them. Any of the major companies, including State Farm, Allstate, Safeco, Liberty Mutual, and Travelers are AM Best rated, with many of their subsidiaries have better home insurance complaint histories. I summarize the home insurance customer & claims satisfaction for over 40 major companies on my homepage. Compare Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company with other insurance companies at: smartshopyourcarinsurance.com.

6. Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company Review Summary

Here’s my summary to give you the bottom line on the customer satisfaction & rates for Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company, to see if the company performs better than average, average, or worse than average.

Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company Claims & Customer Service:

Worse than average

As mentioned in section #5 of this review the homeowners insurance complaint record for Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company, its BBB rating, and recent fine in 2013 by the state of Florida for delayed claims payments, should keep anyone from choosing Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company over many major home insurance companies, unless they are having a hard time qualifying for home insurance because of the location of their property, their claims history, or other factors limiting the number of insurance companies willing to insure their home.

If you contact several local independent insurance agencies in search of the best home insurance policy at the best rates (as everyone should — don’t forget your local independent agent!), and you are recommended Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company, it may be due to price or the lack of better options for you.

If Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company is being recommended to you because of the lack of better company options, be sure to use my reviews to compare Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company to the few other companies available to you, and shop with as many agents or companies as you can, to make sure you know all your options. If you can’t find a review of a company on my blog, or have questions, please contact me through my Facebook or Twitter accounts I link to at the end of this review.

If Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company is being recommended to you because it has the lowest price, you may want to consider whether it is worth the price savings. By diligently shopping as much as you can, you may very well find a much better home insurance company at a better price, or at least find a better company around the same price.

Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company Homeowners Insurance Rates

For pricing, the most reliable way to know if your insurance company charges too much is to conduct your own pricing survey, by obtaining price quotes from all the leading insurance companies in your state, to find the best company for you. However, a recent rapid increase or decrease in market share may indicate whether a company has higher or lower insurance rates for at least some people. If you look at the annual home insurance premiums for Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company in section #4 of this review, Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company grew only slightly from 2012 to 2013, which means even though the company is expanding to new states, it has not grown much in market share. The slight change in market share is not a strong signal Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company has either low or high homeowner insurance rates compared to competitors.

It pays to shop. Many people pay too much for their insurance because they never shop for better rates, or if they do shop, they don’t check the rates of enough companies. No single company has low rates for everyone. You have to shop with all the leading companies, to find the company with the best coverage and best price for you. The ad below will take you to links to get online quotes from leading Home, Auto, Health, & Life insurance companies in your area. Choose the type of insurance, put in your zip, and start shopping now!

Did this Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company review explain what you need to know about its property insurance? Tell me about it. Please leave a comment on my facebook page. Follow me on Twitter for important insurance consumer news and new blog entries at CarInsWatch.