South Carolina Farm Bureau Review: Auto & Homeowners Insurance Complaints, AM Best, BBB, & JD Power Ratings

The insurance companies of South Carolina Farm Bureau, South Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company and Palmetto Casualty Insurance Company, sell auto & home insurance in the state of South Carolina only, and SC Farm Bureau is a major insurer of cars in the Palmetto state. You don’t have to be a farmer to be eligible for South Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance. If you live in SC, you may know about South Carolina Farm Bureau, but do you really know how good a company it is for auto & home insurance? I’ll review the AM Best financial strength ratings, JD Power customer satisfaction ratings, and Better Business Bureau ratings for the SC Farm Bureau Insurance companies, including their annual auto & home insurance complaint records over the last three years. My review summary will give you my opinion if South Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance is performing better than average, average, or worse than average, compared to its competitors, like State Farm, Nationwide, Allstate, Progressive, GEICO and other leading companies. The smart 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.


South Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance Review

This South Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance review is divided into five parts, consisting of: 1. A company overview including the SC Farm Bureau Insurance website, and how to get insurance price quotes, 2. The AM Best financial strength ratings for the South Carolina Farm Bureau insurance companies, 3. The JD Power customer satisfaction ratings and BBB rating for SC Farm Bureau Insurance, 4. the auto & homeowners insurance customer complaint records for South Carolina Farm Bureau over the last three years, 5. a review summary of South Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance rating its complaint record as average, better than average, or below average, and comparing its rates and auto & homeowners insurance to competing insurance companies.

1. About South Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance

South Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance began selling coverage in the early 1950s to help SC farmers obtain affordable insurance, but now any SC resident can join the SC Farm Bureau for its benefits and discounts, including eligibility to apply for South Carolina Farm Bureau insurance. There are more than 230 SC Farm Bureau Insurance agents with offices in communities throughout South Carolina, a local customer service call center near Columbia, SC, and more than a hundred local claims professionals throughout the state, with six drive-in claims service centers located in Anderson, Charleston, Florence, Greer, Lexington, and Rock Hill.

SC Farm Bureau Insurance offers a wide range of personal insurance products, including auto, off-road vehicle, homeowners, condominium, renters (tenants), manufactured home, rental property (dwelling-fire), as well as commercial insurance for farms and businesses, sold through SC Farm Bureau insurance agents. Auto insurance is its largest product line, then property (homeowners, mobile home, condo, and renters) insurance. Additional coverage for earthquake may be available for SC Farm Bureau property insurance policies, including dwelling-fire policies.

South Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance Website & Price Quotes

You can’t get auto or home insurance price quotes online from the SC Farm Bureau Insurance website, but you can request an insurance quote through the site, and a SC Farm Bureau agent will contact you. You can also locate the office of a South Carolina Farm Bureau insurance agent near you through the website, and contact an agent for price quotes. Like with most insurance companies, SC Farm Bureau customers can pay bills, file claims, or access their insurance information through the company website.

Source: South Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance website

2. South Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance AM Best Financial Strength Ratings

The South Carolina Farm Bureau insurance companies (South Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company and Palmetto Casualty Insurance Company) had their AM Best Financial Strength Rating downgraded from B++ (Good) to B+ (Good), with a negative outlook (another ratings downgrade is possible in the near future) on 03/10/2015. The AM Best rating of “B+” is the 6th ranked rating (five ratings are higher: A++, A+, A, A-, B++,) from AM Best, and it is also the lowest rating the AM Best website places in the “secure” category, before being placed in the “vulnerable” category.

The revision in AM Best’s financial outlook for SC Farm Bureau insurance companies was reported in this Insurance Journal article, A.M. Best Downgrades Ratings of South Carolina Farm Bureau Group Members. Per the article, “A.M. Best’s removal of the negative outlook is contingent upon the company’s ability to improve and sustain operating and underwriting results while increasing overall risk-adjusted capitalization.”

The ratings downgrades were reported as due to unfavorable operating & underwriting performance for the two South Carolina Farm Bureau insurance companies over the last five years, primarily due to repeated occurrences of frequent & severe weather events, which have produced significant losses that have eroded the group’s capital position. Although SC Farm Bureau has taken the actions of increasing rates, reducing concentrations in catastrophe-prone areas, and non-renewing unprofitable policies, the ratings could face additional negative pressure if there is a continuation of adverse operating performance.

AM Best financial strength ratings are not a measure of customer service or the quality of the claims adjusting for the SC Farm Bureau insurance companies, but an opinion about their ability to pay claims, remain financially solvent, and stay in business. I recommend avoiding, if possible or practical, any auto or homeowners insurance company with lower than an “A-” rating for financial strength from AM Best.

Source: AM Best Rating for South Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company

3. South Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance JD Power Ratings & BBB Rating

JD Power Customer Satisfaction Ratings

South Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance, like many other small insurance companies operating in a single state, does not have enough auto or homeowners insurance 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 SC Farm Bureau Insurance better or worse than large or JD Power rated companies, but it does make it harder to objectively evaluate the quality of customer service provided by a company not rated by JD Power, like South Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance.

Better Business Bureau (BBB) Rating

Although 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 companies. If many customers are having difficulty resolving an issue with their insurance company and 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. I don’t consider 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.

Neither South Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company nor the SC Farm Bureau itself is rated or accredited by the Better Business Bureau, and has no BBB complaints filed in the last three years. As with its lack of JD Power ratings, not being rated or accredited by the Better Business Bureau is not good or bad.

Source: BBB ratings for South Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company

4. South Carolina Farm Bureau Auto & Homeowners Insurance Complaints

The auto & home insurance (including homeowners, manufactured home, condominium-owners, and tenant’s insurance) complaint statistics for South Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance 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. 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 if SC Farm Bureau Insurance has a good or poor complaint record.

Here’s how I establish my auto & 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.

I prefer companies with the longest recent history of “B” ratings each year (or at least in the most recent three years). Companies with “B” or “C+” ratings are okay, too, particularly if they have less market share, with less than $100,000,000 in premiums for that line of insurance (auto or home) each year. I prefer to avoid companies with a consistently higher than average number of complaints, or with inconsistent complaint records, unless there are mitigating factors, such as small market share.

South Carolina Farm Bureau Auto Insurance Customer Complaints

SC Farm Bureau Insurance consists of two subsidiary companies, but only South Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company insures private passenger vehicles.

South Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company Auto Insurance Complaint Statistics & Ratings

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

2014 Auto Insurance Complaint Ratio = B (.10)

2014 US auto insurance premium = $108,973,258

2013 Auto Insurance Complaint Ratio = B (.19)

2013 US auto insurance premium = $113,625,675

2012 Auto Insurance Complaint Ratio = B (.08)

2012 US auto insurance premium = $110,881,891

South Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company consistently has a lower than average number of annual auto insurance complaints each year from 2012 to 2014.

South Carolina Farm Bureau Homeowners (including Homeowners, Manufactured homes, Condo, Renters) Insurance Customer Complaints

Both of SC Farm Bureaus, South Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company and Palmetto Casualty Insurance Company, insure homes, manufactured homes, condos, and apartments for tenants in South Carolina.

South Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company Homeowners Insurance Complaint Statistics & Ratings

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

2014 Home Insurance Complaint Ratio = B (.47)

2014 US home insurance premium = $61,644,463

2013 Home Insurance Complaint Ratio = B (.17)

2013 US home insurance premium = $64,883,970

2012 Home Insurance Complaint Ratio = B (.24)

2012 US home insurance premium = $68,957,105

South Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company consistently has a lower than average number of annual homeowners (including manufactured homes, condo, & renters) insurance complaints each year from 2012 to 2014.

Palmetto Casualty Insurance Company Homeowners Insurance Complaint Statistics & Ratings

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

2014 Home Insurance Complaint Ratio = B (0) (No complaints)

2014 US home insurance premium = $4,174,599

2013 Home Insurance Complaint Ratio = B (0) (No complaints)

2013 US home insurance premium = $5,323,567

2012 Home Insurance Complaint Ratio = W (2.28)

2012 US home insurance premium = $7,113,035

Palmetto Casualty Insurance Company had no homeowners (including manufactured homes, condo, & renters) insurance complaints in 2013 & 2014, and two complaints in 2012. Palmetto Casualty Insurance Company has very little homeowners insurance market share in SC, and it was almost 10 times smaller than the SC homeowners insurance market share of South Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company in 2012. When an insurance company or subsidiary has so few homeowners (including manufactured homes, condo, & renters) customers, only one or two complaints in a year can lead to a much worse average annual homeowners insurance complaint ratio, as is the case for Palmetto Casualty Insurance Company in 2012. When considering all home insurance customers (as measured by annual home insurance premiums collected) & home insurance complaints for both SC Farm Bureau insurance subsidiaries in 2012, the number of home insurance complaints for the SC Farm Bureau companies are still well below the industry average.

5. South Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance Review Summary

Here’s my summary to give you the bottom line on the customer service & rates for South Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance, to see if it performs better than average, average, or worse than average.

South Carolina Farm Bureau auto insurance customer & claims service as measured by its 2012-2014 complaint record:

Better than Average

South Carolina Farm Bureau Homeowners insurance customer & claims service as measured by its 2012-2014 complaint record:

Better than Average

South Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance Financial Stability:

Worse than average

Although SC Farm Bureau Insurance has a better than average auto & homeowners insurance complaint history, I would advise even its customers to consider insuring with other insurance companies, because of the poor AM Best financial strength ratings, with a continuing negative outlook, for South Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company and Palmetto Casualty Insurance Company. You may be very happy with South Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance now, but it may have trouble paying its claims or being solvent when you need it.

How does SC Farm Bureau Insurance compare to major auto & home insurance companies, like State Farm, Allstate, Nationwide, GEICO, Progressive, and others? Compare South Carolina Farm Bureau with over forty other companies at my home page: smartshopyourcarinsurance.com.

South Carolina Farm Bureau 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 auto insurance premiums for South Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company in section #4 of this review, its auto insurance market share has decreased each year since 2012, which may indicate SC Farm Bureau no longer has competitive auto insurance rates.

If you look at the annual home insurance premiums for both South Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company and Palmetto Casualty Insurance Company in section #4 of this review, its home insurance market share has decreased each year since 2012, which may indicate South Carolina Farm Bureau no longer has competitive homeowners (or renters, or condo) insurance rates.

It really pays to shop with all the leading auto and/or home insurance companies available to you in South Carolina. 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 South Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance review explain what you need to know about SC Farm Bureau auto & home 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.