Esurance and Allstate: 2 Years Later … Look How We’ve Grown

There’s excitement in the air at Esurance. It’s our 2-year anniversary of joining the Allstate family and we can’t help but be a little nostalgic.

In just 2 years, we’ve grown a lot, which means we’re able to offer our customers more products and services than ever before.

Car insurance

With recent launches in North Carolina, Massachusetts, and South Dakota, Esurance now offers car insurance in 39 states (check out the map below to see if we’re in your area). Our customers benefit from 24/7 service and easy online policy management, along with some pretty handy tools.

Car insurance tools

For quoters

Express Lane™ — get a lightning-fast car insurance quote (we’ll find your info to save you time)

Coverage Counselor® — get customized coverage options based on your input

For policyholders

Photo claims — speed up your claim by submitting mobile pics of the damage for appraisal

RepairView® — keep track of your car repairs anytime, anywhere

What If® Calculator — see how certain events (like moving or getting a ticket) could affect your premium

For everyone

Esurance Mobile — find useful stuff like tow trucks and cupcakes, get a quote, manage your policy, and take care of a claim

How-to videos — learn how to do useful things, like change a tire and jump-start a car

And we’ve got more on the way!

New products

We understand that you have more to protect than your car. So, last year, we began rolling out renters coverage. And this year, we introduced motorcycle insurance (plus some nice bundling discounts to go with them). Look for homeowners insurance to come soon!

Renters coverage

Esurance auto policyholders can add renters coverage to their policies for $10 a month on average.* We currently provide this coverage in 13 states and continue to expand.

Motorcycle insurance

The term “motorcycle insurance” doesn’t begin to cover everything this bad boy handles. From your Harley to your Vespa (and even your ATV, golf cart, or Segway), your grown-up toys can be protected.

Esurance insurance in your state

Looking to bundle your insurance policies? Find out where we offer our insurance products. And keep checking back as we enter new states!

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If we don’t offer coverage in your state yet, you can still protect yourself through our trusted partners.

Careers at Esurance

Of course, we wouldn’t be able to launch all these handy new tools and snazzy new products if it weren’t for our creative, innovative, and hard-working associates — nearly 3,000 of them, in fact. With so many big projects, we’re constantly growing. Maybe you’d like to join us!

Check out careers at Esurance.

Happy 2-year anniversary, Allstate

So much of our growth has been possible thanks to our relationship with Allstate, whose 80-plus years of insurance know-how and financial strength have helped us become stronger, smarter, and more reliable than ever (without losing our individuality, of course). Today, we raise a glass and toast to the future of Esurance and Allstate.

Related links

The Esurance and Allstate announcement

*Average monthly cost and annual premium figures based on Esurance renters coverage purchased between 8/25/2012 and 7/31/2013. Your premium will depend on the details of your selected coverage and your specific property. Coverages subject to availability and qualifications. Terms, conditions, limits, and exclusions will apply. Esurance renters coverage is not available in all states. In those states, Esurance Insurance Services, Inc. (California License #0G87829), offers, among other insurance products and services, the renters policies underwritten by member companies of the Homesite Insurance Group and Security First Insurance Company.

Policies purchased by residents of FL are underwritten by Security First Insurance Company, and policies purchased by residents of all other states are underwritten by member companies of the Homesite Group Incorporated where not underwritten by Esurance. Renters insurance claims are processed and paid by the underwriting company. Esurance does not underwrite, provide customer service, or pay claims for any renters policies underwritten by Security First Insurance Company or member companies of the Homesite Group Incorporated.

Customer Service: What Matters Most to You? (Infographic)

This week is National Customer Service Week — a time for us to recognize how important customer satisfaction is to our success. It’s also an opportunity for us to thank our customer service reps in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and San Antonio, Texas, as well as our work-at-home customer service reps and claims reps across the country for all their hard work. And of course, we want to thank our customers (we’d be nothing without you!).

Because Esurance is always looking for ways to improve our customer experience, we asked our Facebook fans to tell us what they value most in terms of customer service. Though the answers varied, a few responses showed up again and again.

According to you, good customer service means:

  • Having a friendly, positive attitude
  • Responding promptly to questions and requests
  • Being consistent and straightforward
  • Treating customers like people, not numbers
  • Having the knowledge, skills, and resources to resolve the issue at hand
  • Communication — someone who really listens to you and understands your concerns (this was the most important thing of all)

Some things you really dislike: being put on hold for long periods of time, being given the runaround, and getting stuck in touch-tone menu purgatory. (We can relate.)

Check out our infographic to see how the responses stack up. And keep offering your feedback (both positive and negative) on how Esurance is doing. It helps us streamline our services and create the kinds of tools and features you want to see.

You can leave your comments below, on our Facebook page, or tweet them to @esurancecares. By the way, we do our best to answer posts and tweets within an hour or less. To see some of the latest online conversations, visit our customer comments page.

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Get to know 2 of our rock-star customer service reps: Erin H. and Derek M.

Top 6 Reasons to Winterize Your Home

Looks like winter is coming early this year — some big storms have already hit the Midwest — and both the Farmer’s Almanac and the Old Farmer’s Almanac say it’s going to be an especially cold, snowy season. But even if you live in a mild climate, you’ll still want to get ready for cooler temperatures, longer nights, and wet weather. Here are 6 important reasons to winterize your abode now.

1. Because indoor rivers are not awesome

Have you ever walked in your house and found a waterfall in your kitchen? That’s what happened at my family’s cabin in the mountains one winter. The last people to rent the place forgot to let the faucet drip, so the pipes froze and eventually burst. It wasn’t pretty.

Keeping water moving through the pipes is one way to help avoid this, but there are better (and less wasteful) ways. The first is to insulate the water pipes in unheated areas of your house. You may also want to buy a freeze alarm that automatically checks your home’s temperature and alerts you if it drops too low. Kitchen and bathroom cabinets can be surprisingly cold, especially if they’re along an outside wall, so consider wrapping those pipes as well, or keep the cabinets open so the warm air can circulate around them. And set your thermostat to no lower than 55 degrees.

When it’s time to winterize, be sure to turn off the valve that carries water to your exterior faucets or irrigation systems, and then drain the faucets, sprinkler lines, and hoses. You should also drain any hoses coming from your air conditioner and turn off its water valve if there is one.

2. Because an indoor rainstorm is no fun either

A leaky (or worse, collapsed) roof is another winter surprise you could do without. In the fall, clean leaves and debris out of your rain gutters so water doesn’t back up and damage your roof. While you’re at it, look for gutter leaks or misaligned pipes and make sure your downspouts pour away from the house so the water doesn’t cause flooding or damage your foundation. Ideally, water from your gutters should be deposited at least 10 feet from your house. If your system falls short, consider adding a drainage pipe extension to the end of your downspout.

In colder climates, water can freeze in the rain gutters and create ice dams. To prevent a buildup of snow and ice, remove snow from your roof with a long-poled rake. You should also be sure your attic is well insulated — otherwise, the warmth from your house can cause snow to melt at the center of your roof and then collect at the eaves (which are colder). Along with insulation, consider weather-stripping your attic door or hatch to prevent drafts. Bonus: you’ll save energy too.

Related link: What to Put In Your Emergency Flood Kit

3. Because not all fires are cozy

Winter, naturally, is the worst season for house fires, so one of your winterizing steps should be changing the batteries in your smoke alarms. Make sure you also test your smoke alarms and check that they’re up to date — alarms and fire extinguishers should be replaced every 10 years.

If you have a fireplace or wood stove, you should have your chimney inspected once a year, and, if necessary, cleaned to remove soot and creosote (a sticky, combustible residue that’s produced when wood is burned). Creosote buildup can result in a chimney fire. Because poor drafts cause the buildup to happen faster, consider putting a cap on your chimney to keep debris from blocking your flue.

Related link: 4 Must-Read Tips for Fireplace Safety

4. Because a carbon monoxide leak is a serious thing

Another hazard associated with winter is carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO is an odorless gas produced by fuel-burning appliances like gas furnaces. Under normal circumstances, the amount produced isn’t enough to be worrisome and most of it will be vented outside. But a dirty or inefficient furnace can create dangerous levels of CO. Be sure to have your furnace serviced every fall to make sure it’s working properly and safely. It’s also wise to install carbon monoxide detectors near your furnace and water heater. You can change the batteries while you’re changing the ones in your smoke alarms.

5. Because darkness can be dangerous

The nights are getting longer, so now’s a good time to inspect and replace the bulbs in your exterior lighting system. Good outdoor lighting can help prevent people from tripping over obstacles or steps and it also tends to discourage burglars. (So does trimming the shrubbery near your windows and doors, which could provide coverage for thieves.)

6. Because heat isn’t cheap

Safety is important, but so is saving money. To find out where you might be losing heat, wet your hand and run it along the trim on your interior windows and doors. If you feel a breeze, fill the spaces with caulk. Keep your windows tightly locked — this not only helps keep thieves out, but it also prevents you from accidentally leaving the window cracked. Make sure your heating ducts are insulated and properly connected. And keep your fireplace flue closed when not in use.

Related link: Heat Your Home for Less: Tips to Save on Your Energy Bill

Once you’ve done your winterizing prep, you can laugh in the face of storms and frost!

More winter tips

While you’re at it, make sure to winterize your car and be prepared no matter how cranky Old Man Winter gets this year. Plus, check out the top 11 must-haves for your winter car kit.

Related links

How to Tell If You Live in a Flood Plain

How to Inspect Your Roof

Power Outages and Food Spoilage: Can Homeowners Insurance Help?

Check Out What To Do Before, During, and After a Winter Power Outage

Preparing for Severe Storms: Dos and Don’ts

Flame-Retardant Furniture: Is Your Couch Toxic?

It’s Fire Prevention Week, which means we should breathe a sigh of thanks for flame-retardant furniture, right? Actually, breathing near said furniture might not be such a good idea.

It all started back in 1975 when California passed a law (TB 117) requiring that the foam inside upholstered furniture be resistant to an open flame, such as a candle. Rather than make 2 versions of every model, large manufacturers instead built all of their furniture to comply with the California law. And that means over 80 percent of furniture sold in the U.S. contains flame retardants.

The BPDE controversy

For many years, the flame retardants most commonly used in furniture were a class of chemicals called BPDEs. Then, these chemicals began showing up in women’s blood and breast milk, raising concern because they’re said to cause thyroid problems (which can affect fetal development). In 2004, BPDEs were banned in California.

Recent comparisons of blood samples taken from San Francisco women in 2008-2009 vs. another group in 2011-2012 showed that the level of chemicals had dropped by more than half, which researchers believe is a sign the ban is working.

But, with the ban in place, furniture makers had to switch other chemicals in order to stay compliant with TB 117. Some scientists now claim that these chemicals are also a safety hazard.

Do flame retardants work?

Yes and no. It takes up to 2 pounds of chemicals to make a sofa flame resistant, and even then the chemicals may do little to reduce the risk of fire. According to flammability scientist Donald Lucas of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, most fires start on the fabric of the furniture, not the foam. Once that fire reaches the foam, it’s usually too big for the fire retardant to stop.

So should we toss our comfy couches and learn to love our ladder-backed chairs?

New flammability standards on the way

A new regulation may soon make the flame-resistant foam law obsolete. California governor Jerry Brown has ordered a new flammability standard that would require furniture to pass a smolder-only test rather than an open-flame test. In a 2008 report, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said 90 percent of furniture on the market met the industry’s current smoldering standard, and smolder-resistant fabrics don’t usually need to be treated with fire retardants.

Of course, there are 2 sides to this cushion debate. Some safety advocates feel it’s a mistake to move away from open-flame testing. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that upholstered furniture played a role in 24 percent of home fire deaths in recent years and thinks fire safety regulations “must address the full spectrum of major fire scenarios.” NFPA is considering developing its own open-flame test.

Other groups want to see national regulations put in place. Earlier this year, the CPSC said it’s committed to creating a national flammability standard for furniture that doesn’t require the use of hazardous chemicals.

The pros and cons of flame retardant furniture

Personally, I’d rather not be engulfed by toxins every time I use my couch (or my office chair, for that matter). But then again, I’d also rather not be immediately engulfed in flames if my couch ever came in contact with a candle. It’s clearly not an easy problem to solve. Tell us where you stand on this issue.

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Learn how to prepare yourself for a house fire

IIHS Reveals the 7 Most Crash-Proof Cars

My window at Esurance overlooks one of San Francisco’s greatest streets — the Embarcadero. Stretching along the Bay from Fisherman’s Wharf to AT&T Park, it’s always busy with tourists, bikes, pedicabs, parking enforcement officers, and a stop-and-go stream of commuters on their way to the Bay Bridge. It’s an iconic stretch of road and a prime setup for a rear-end collision.

Fortunately, more and more vehicles are available with front crash prevention systems, and studies have shown they work. The Highway Loss Data Institute found fewer property damage liability claims for vehicles with forward collision warning systems and autonomous braking.

But, not all systems are created equal. Now that it’s clear front crash prevention technologies are effective, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has developed a new test program to see how various systems compare.

Crash prevention technologies

There are 2 main types of front crash prevention systems: forward collision warning and autonomous braking (autobrake). A forward collision warning system alerts the driver when it detects the vehicle is about to collide with the car in front. Though the system doesn’t cause the vehicle to slow down or stop, it’s sometimes combined with autobrake.

Autobrake systems are designed to prevent or reduce the impact of a rear-end collision by slowing down or stopping the vehicle if the driver doesn’t react in time. The higher-rated vehicles in the IIHS tests were able to brake for stopped and slowly moving vehicles.

How the IIHS rates crash prevention technology

Unlike their crash test program (which rates vehicles as good, acceptable, marginal, or poor), the Institute rates crash prevention technologies on a 3-tiered system of superior, advanced, and basic.

For these new ratings, vehicles were tested at 12 and 25 mph. The “superior” rating was awarded to vehicles that had autobrake and were able to avoid a crash or greatly reduce their speed in both tests. An “advanced” rating meant the vehicle had autobrake and avoided a collision or reduced its speed by at least 5 mph in 1 of the 2 tests. A “basic” rating meant the vehicle was equipped with a forward collision warning system that met National Highway Traffic Safety Association standards.

To get an NHTSA endorsement, vehicles are tested under 3 different scenarios (approaching a stopped vehicle, a suddenly decelerating vehicle, and a vehicle moving slower than the test car). The system must warn drivers of an imminent collision within a specified time in at least 5 out of 7 trials.

The IIHS’s most crash-proof cars

Of the 74 models tested (all 2013 or 2014 models), 7 received a superior rating: the Cadillac ATS sedan, Cadillac SRX SUV, Mercedes-Benz C-class sedan, Subaru Legacy sedan, Subaru Outback wagon, Volvo S60 sedan, and Volvo XC60 SUV. All had optional autonomous braking as well as forward collision warning systems.

The 6 vehicles that received an advanced rating are the 2014 Acura MDX SUV, Audi A4 sedan, Audi Q5 SUV, 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV, Lexus ES sedan, and 2014 Mazda 6 sedan. All were equipped with autobrake and forward collision warning.

Some surprising failures

A few vehicles that tout their autobrake features did not perform well. The BMW 3 series and the Infinity JX SUV both received basic ratings — the BMW braked for a stopped car only if it first detected that car in motion, and the Infinity showed minimal braking at both test speeds. The Toyota Prius v wagon, which offers what Toyota calls a pre-collision system, didn’t qualify for an IIHS rating. It had very little speed reduction in the tests and didn’t meet the NHTSA standard for forward collision warning.

Know before you buy

Even a basic system can significantly reduce your risk of a crash, so check out the full list of IIHS ratings here. It could mean fewer fender benders in your future.

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