Midway through the Roaring 20’s, two young salesmen for the Pennsylvania Indemnity Exchange had a bold idea: if they pooled their resources and convinced enough investors, they could form their own automotive insurance company.
H.O. Hirt and O.G. Crawford saw an opportunity with a growing U.S. automobile industry that in 1925 would see the Ford Motor Company produce nearly 1.7 million cars while the other seven car companies combined would produce roughly 1.4 million cars. Chevrolet, Dodge, Buick, Chrysler and others all wanted a bigger piece of the growing market that Henry Ford’s company was dominating.
Just over three months later, Hirt and Crawford had successfully pitched 90 investors with their hand-written business plan. The partners had raised $31,000, formed a public company called Erie Insurance Exchange in 1925 and began offering auto insurance with an annual premium of $34.
Today, 95 years later, Erie Insurance operates in Washington, D.C. and 12 states primarily throughout the Mid-Atlantic and the Midwest through more than 12,400 independent insurance agents. It is publicly traded on the NASDAQ under the symbol ERIE and is ranked in the high 300s on the list of Fortune 500 companies.
The company headquarters are in — you guessed it — Erie, Pa., where more than 3,000 people are employed, making it the city’s largest employer. Erie Insurance employs an additional 2,300 at field offices throughout the company’s coverage area. Erie’s insurance products are available in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois,Wisconsin and the nation’s capital.
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Erie Car Insurance Discounts
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Erie offers several types of discounts including its Erie Rate Lock product in which the rates only will change under certain conditions such as adding or removing a vehicle, a driver, or a change of address where the vehicle is parked daily. The company also offers multi-policy discounts that range from 16-to-25 percent, but typically average 20 percent depending on the state.
Erie promotes seven “featured ways” to save on car insurance with common practices such as a good driving record, factory-installed safety features on a vehicle like air bags, passive restraints, anti-lock brakes and anti-theft devices. There’s also discounts on policies that cover two or more vehicles and discounts for other Erie products like home owners or life insurance that are bundled with auto insurance. Erie also offers rate discounts for reduced usage when a vehicle is not used for 90 consecutive days during a policy period.
Unmarried drivers under age 21 residing with parents may be eligible for savings on their car insurance policies. Separately, all policyholders may be eligible for discounts when they make annual lump sum payments of their premiums. All discounts are subject to eligibility criteria for rates and rules.
Other Types of Policies From Erie Insurance
In addition to auto and homeowners insurance, Erie also offers life, property & casualty, business insurance. The company offers business auto insurance for business owners and their employees who use their vehicles for business purposes. This coverage typically protects a range of uses including commercial vehicle insurance for owned and leased cars and trucks. Erie’s products cover renters, mobile homes, condos, classic cars, boats and more.
Erie Insurance Financial Fitness
In addition to its standing in the Fortune 500, which ranks the largest U.S. companies based on revenue, Erie is the 9th largest home insurer; the 11th largest auto insurer; and the 12th largest business insurer, all based on direct premiums written (Best’s Insurance Reports 2018). Remember, Erie only operates in 12 states and Washington, D.C.
Erie is rated A+ by A. M. Best, the premier ratings agency for the insurance industry. A. M. Best measures an insurer’s financial strength and bases its findings on Erie’s more than 5.8 million active policies in the auto, home and business insurance sectors.
For the first quarter of this year, ending March 31, 2020, Erie announced net income of $59.3 million, compared to $75.3 million in the first quarter of 2019. The company attributed the loss to financial market volatility due to the COVID-19 pandemic as having a significant impact on its investment portfolio. The company’s operating income for the quarter of $85.6 million was not far off its $86.1 million pace set a year ago.
Other Insurance Brands Related to Erie Insurance
The company’s subsidiaries are Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company; Flagship City Insurance Company; Erie Insurance Company; Erie Insurance Company of New York; and Erie Family Life Insurance Company.
Contact Erie Insurance
The company’s website is www.erieinsurance.com. It’s website lists 800-458-0811 as a contact phone number and a “Support Center” link for answering questions on topics like billing and payments; filing and monitoring claims; and support for auto insurance, home insurance and business insurance.