Esurance vs. Allstate: What’s the Difference?

Auto Insurance, Insurance
Esurance vs. Allstate: What’s the Difference?

Allstate owns Esurance, but the two insurance providers take very different approaches to their business.

Allstate sells policies through a nationwide network of agents. Esurance, on the other hand, provides a plethora of online tools to help you navigate insurance yourself, and doesn’t have local agents you can meet with in person. That way, there’s something for everyone.

“Some consumers prefer a local agent to physically walk them through the process,” Esurance Chief Marketing Officer Alan Gellman says. “And then there are the self-directed consumers who only want help if they need it.”

Here’s a detailed look at the Esurance vs. Allstate comparison and just what separates these two car insurance companies.

Insurance options from Esurance vs. Allstate

Allstate offers a full range of auto, homeowners, umbrella liability, renters, flood, life and business insurance policies in all 50 states. It also sells supplemental health coverage for accidents, disability, critical illness and long-term care insurance. It has financial services products such as investments, and retirement and college savings plans.

Esurance provides auto insurance in 43 states and homeowners policies in 23. It uses partners to provide auto and home coverage in other states and other types of policies, including coverage for recreational vehicles, umbrella liability, health, life and business.

Both insurers have “usage-based” car insurance offerings — DriveWise from Allstate and DriveSense from Esurance — which provide pricing based on actual driving behavior, including mileage, time of day, sudden acceleration and hard braking. Esurance also recently started offering a Pay Per Mile program, which charges a base rate and per-mile fee. It’s available only in Oregon so far.

Allstate vs. Esurance prices

To get an idea of how Allstate and Esurance measure up on price, we looked at car insurance quotes from each for urban, suburban and rural ZIP codes in the 10 largest states (see full methodology below). In nine states Esurance is significantly cheaper, as shown below. Allstate offers lower rates only in California.

One reason Esurance can offer lower rates is that it has fewer offices, according to Gellman.

Esurance vs. Allstate average annual car insurance rates
Esurance Allstate Allstate extra/savings
California $3,027 $1,616 -47%
Other nine largest states $2,382 $4,427 86%
Source: NerdWallet research
Methodology: We got quotes for a 30-year-old women driving a 2015 Toyota Camry up to 10,000 miles a year, with bodily injury liability limits of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident, and $50,000 in property damage, plus comprehensive and collision with a $500 deductible, uninsured motorist coverage and, in states that require it, personal injury protection. Your rates will be different. Since quotes for Allstate and Esurance came from different sources, we matched details as exactly as possible.

How Allstate and Esurance work with customers

Allstate has a traditional approach to customer service, according to spokesman Justin Herndon. “Allstate brand products are sold primarily through Allstate exclusive agencies and serve brand-sensitive customers who prefer local personal advice and service,” he says.

Or, as Gellman puts it: “There’s a very large number of consumers who want somebody local to hold their hand.”

You can also get Allstate insurance quotes online, although you will be assigned a local agent if you want to buy a policy.

There are no Esurance agents to meet. The company sells exclusively online and by telephone. Though many insurance companies, including Allstate, have extensive websites and mobile apps, Esurance’s online tools are among the most comprehensive, including:

  • “Coverage Counsellor,” which tailors coverage recommendations to you.
  • Photo and video claims, which allow you to submit photos to have a claim appraised or video chat with an appraiser.
  • “RepairView,” which allows you to track repairs, including a daily photo of your car.
  • “What if calculator,” which provides personalized estimates of how tickets, accidents, moving or changing vehicles could impact your rates.

“We want to empower our customers with the technology they need to make the right choices for themselves,” Gellman says.

Consumer ratings

There’s no clear winner between Esurance and Allstate when it comes to auto insurance customer service ratings. Consumer Reports’ readers gave Allstate a rating of 81 out of 100, tying it for 19th out of 24 companies. However, the publication did not rate Esurance.

J.D. Power’s national studies show Allstate to be “about average” for shopping satisfaction and claims satisfaction.

Although Esurance does not operate in all 50 states, it was rated in two regional J.D. Power auto insurance studies, with varying results:

  • In California, Esurance scores “among the best,” whereas Allstate is “about average.”
  • In Florida, Esurance is rated with “the rest,” whereas Allstate is “among the best.”

Should you go with Allstate or Esurance?

If you’ve narrowed your choices down to Allstate or Esurance, your decision depends on what sounds more appealing to you: personalized service from a local agent (Allstate) or lots of online tools and generally lower prices (Esurance).

Esurance has cheaper car insurance rates on average, but you’ll want to make sure it operates in your area. Always get quotes from multiple providers to make sure you get the lowest possible rates.

NerdWallet is a free tool to find you the best credit cards, cd rates, savings, checking accounts, scholarships, healthcare and airlines. Start here to maximize your rewards or minimize your interest rates. Aubrey Cohen

NerdWallet is a free tool to find you the best credit cards, cd rates, savings, checking accounts, scholarships, healthcare and airlines. Start here to maximize your rewards or minimize your interest rates. Aubrey Cohen

This post was updated Nov. 12, 2015. It was originally published Oct. 3, 2013.

Aubrey Cohen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @aubreycohen.

Image via iStock.