What is Say Auto Insurance?

Published on: Jan 6, 2017

By providing clarity and transparency, Say Auto Insurance promises to deliver clear-cut car insurance that allows you to fully understand what you’re paying and why. Or, as the company claims, “car insurance made simple.”

Instead of following the rest of the auto insurance world, Say is out to change things up by talking about coverage in uncomplicated terms and delivering outstanding support, whether on their website or over the phone with one of their personality-filled customer service reps.

Specifically, Say Insurance claims to differentiate themselves by providing insurance scores (more soon) at no charge, letting customers know what they can do to reduce their rates, how they can minimize their risk, and how they can have more control over their policy.

Does any of this sound familiar? Probably so. In fact, if you’ve been researching auto insurance carriers for long, you could probably replace Say’s name with any other company and not notice much of a difference.

From this perspective, is Say Insurance meaningfully different than the competition, or is it all just marketing? That’s exactly what we’ll help you answer here.

Let’s start off with some background information.

Some Important Fact About the Insurance Industry

Before beginning my writing career, I spent the better part of a decade as an underwriter for a national top 10 insurance carrier. During that time, I learned a lot about the industry, so let me quickly share a couple of important insights:

With the exception of banking and commerce, there’s perhaps no more tightly regulated industry than insurance. Every aspect of it—from rates and eligibility to policy language and advertising—is closely monitored by state and federal authorities; specifically, the Department of Insurance.

For the purpose of our discussion, this means three key things:

First, most of the wording contained in your policy jacket (the long, boring document that outlines your coverage) is boilerplate. So, assuming you had identical coverage, much of this legalese would be identical, whether you choose Say or another auto insurance carrier.

Second, nearly all auto insurance carriers provide the same types of discounts, such multi-car, multi-policy (combining auto and home), good driver (no accidents/violations within a certain timeframe, etc.), and more.

Lastly, although it might not feel like it due to all the confusing wording, the reality is that you pay good money for coverage, so you own your insurance policy. Within the limits of the law, of course, this means you’re always in control over it.

Let’s carry these thoughts over to the next section.

Say vs. Other Auto Insurance Companies

Because most auto insurance carriers use the same language in their policies and offer the same discounts, there are really only three meaningful differences between each one. (We’ll talk about how Say compares to these factors in just a second. First, though, we need to lay a solid foundation.):

1. Their Underlying Rates

Insurance policies are rated based on risk factors. For example, if you received a minor speeding citation two years ago, you would likely have a lower risk factor (and subsequently, a lower rate) than someone who received a more recent, or more severe, violation.

Now, depending on the type of customer they’re looking to attract, insurance companies can file different rates with the Department of Insurance.

So (to use an overly simplistic example), if a carrier wanted to focus on acquiring drivers with less than two violations, they could file a new risk factor (or rate) that makes their prices uncompetitive for drivers with 2+ violations.

Which brings us to the second difference.

2. Their Eligibility Criteria

In addition to rates, insurance companies can further focus on attracting certain segments of the market by pinpointing their underwriting criteria.

So, Company A may specialize in only top-notch drivers, company B might focus on high-risk drivers, such as those with major accidents or violations (e.g. DUI, license suspension, etc.), while company C might focus on younger drivers (such as those under 25) without any activity on their driving record.

3. Their Special Coverage Endorsements

Finally, since the bulk of their policy language is the same, companies often attempt to differentiate themselves by offering special coverage endorsements.

For example, Company A might provide full replacement value (vs. actual cash value) if your car is totaled in an accident, while Company B might offer complimentary towing and roadside assistance.

What Differentiates Say Insurance?

Unfortunately, while the Say website certainly provides a lot of down-to-earth information about otherwise complex insurance topics, it tells us very little about what specifically distinguishes them from the competition.

In fact, the only meaningful differentiating factors we’re told about is that they’ll:

  • Help you fully understand what you’re paying (and why) in uncomplicated language,
  • They have great customer service,
  • They’ll put you in control of your coverage, and
  • They may not offer the lowest rates.

That’s it.

The issue here is that just about every other auto insurance provider makes many of these same claims. And even if they don’t, the independent agents who represent them will often deliver the customer service and down-to-earth coverage explanations you desire.

What about Say’s eligibility criteria? Is it any different than the competition?

Talking With Say Insurance About Rates & Eligibility Criteria

When I attempted to obtain a quote on Say’s website, even after entering three different states, I was unable to get past the first screen.

Instead, I kept receiving the following error: “Stop! Your quote has been stopped and you may not continue!” No further explanation or instruction was provided.

For help figuring out what was going on, I called customer support at 800-CALL-SAY (225-5729) and spoke with a very pleasant, helpful representative who let me know that Say Insurance only provides auto coverage in the state of IL.

If you live in another state, you’ll have to go through Say’s parent company Shelter Insurance, although the rep told me they have completely different rates and eligibility criteria.

Regarding this, the only specifics they could give me were that Say offers competitive rates, transparent business practices, and the ability to make changes to your policy. Not much distinction here.

As far as discounts, they also offer many of the same as other carriers, such as a paperless (electronic documents), advance purchase, pay in full, and more.

Perhaps the biggest differences I learned about were that 1) Say provides a no-cost insurance score—a cumulative number involving factors like credit score, the number of claims you (or others in your household who will be listed on your policy) have made, DMV points/citations, and payment timeliness, which helps them assess your overall level of risk—along with 2) a discount after you’ve been with the company for six months.

Granted, this is what I learned after spending a relatively short amount of time speaking with the friendly customer service rep. What are Say Insurance’s real-world customers saying?

Where Are All the Say Insurance Reviews?

On their website, Say Insurance admits that they’re the “new kid on the block,” which is probably why we found zero online policyholder feedback during our research (note: you can help change this by leaving a review below!).

On the other hand, Columbia, MO-based Shelter Insurance, Say’s parent company, has been in business for more than 70 years and currently holds an A.M. Best financial strength rating of A (excellent).

From a customer perspective, we found a handful of Shelter Insurance reviews on poplar websites like Consumer Affairs and Credit Karma, where the carrier had an overall average rating of 4+ stars.

Here, most compliments referenced helpful customer support, easy claims processes, and competitive rates. The only complaint we encountered related to a less-than-stellar claims experience.

ValuePenguin gave Shelter Insurance kudos for their financial strength, business practices, and a lower than an average number of complaints, but noted that their rates are often higher and that they're only available in Midwestern and Southern states.

Finally, Shelter Insurance had an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau with 18 closed complaints (as of 12/1/16). These referenced everything from problems obtaining refunds and canceling policies to claims issues.

Should You Make the Switch to Say Insurance?

Whether we’re talking about pay-per-mile carriers like Metromile, specialty carriers like Hagerty, or industry giants like Mercury, Hartford, Amica, and Infinity, the truth of the matter is that there are hundreds of auto insurance carriers out there—each of which claims to provide many of the same benefits and Say Insurance.

Comparatively, it’s easy to see that Say Insurance has invested time and effort into creating an easy-to-navigate website that does a solid job of explaining complex topics in everyday language. This includes insurance score, coverage types, factors that can affect your rate, common discounts, and more.

However, much of this information is generic, and something you could just as easily learn after a quick Google search. Most importantly, it doesn’t tell us how Say Insurance is meaningfully different than its vast competition, or why they’re more deserving of your money.

True to their word, though, we found Say Insurance delivered on their promise of great support, so—along with their free insurance score—it might be worth giving them a call and obtaining a no-obligation quote.

Bottom line: While Say Insurance’s “claim to fame” is transparency, other than a solid website and helpful customer support, we remain unsure how they’re distinctive among dozens (even hundreds) of other auto insurance carriers.

Did you call for a Say auto insurance quote? Or, are you a policyholder? Talk about the details in your review below!

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1 Consumer Review for Say Auto Insurance

Average Consumer Rating: 5.0
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 1 4 star: 0 3 star: 0 2 star: 0 1 star:  0
Bottom Line: 100% would recommend it to a friend
  • 11 out 11 people found this review helpful

    Five stars all the way

    These guys are a totally legitimate auto insurance company; they handled my claim like a boss. And although it was a small fender bender, I had no problem reporting a claim and got no robot, but went straight to a person who professionally handled it. These people are good at what they do. Keep up the good work guys.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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