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About California Casualty
California Casualty was founded in 1914 and originally wrote worker’s compensation insurance. They expanded into the auto insurance market early, in 1917, when cars were still a novelty to many. Two decades later, they added home insurance to the lineup.
In 1951 the company began its first affinity program with the endorsement of the California Teacher’s Association. Today they have more than 100 affinity programs in place, including firefighters and police groups, medical centers, and universities. The company’s official categories are:
- Educators and Education Support Professionals
- Higher Education Employees
- Firefighters and EMS
- Peace Officers
- Nurses and Nurse Practitioners
Today the company operates as a group of companies under the name California Casualty Group and operates in most states across the nation, with auto insurance available in all states except Alaska, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and Wisconsin. Other products are available in a slightly smaller number of states. Their headquarters is located in San Mateo, CA.
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California Casualty Products
California Casualty writes auto as well as several specialty vehicle policies, home, and a handful of other products.
California Casualty has a robust auto insurance program with a lot of added benefits, some of which are specific to affinity groups.
In addition to the basics – liability, personal injury protection, comprehensive coverage, and collision coverage – they include things like pet injury protection, personal property coverage, and custom equipment coverage. Add-on benefits include roadside assistance.
For educators, they offer sabbatical return benefits and a foreign exchange program option.
First responders can take advantage of turnout gear and firearm coverage as well as a fallen hero survivor benefit for the family of an officer or firefighter killed in the line of duty.
Nurses, public safety professionals, and educators can also take advantage of the deductible waiver option.
The list of discounts includes standard choices like multi-policy, good student, college graduate, and mature driver.
California Casualty also insures motorcycles, mopeds, RVs, snowmobiles, antique and classic cars, and more specialty vehicles.
For customers traveling to Mexico, where a U.S. insurance policy does not carry over, the company also writes Mexican auto insurance policies for temporary coverage.
Like the auto insurance program California Casualty’s home insurance package provides several benefits on top of the basics. These include lost luggage coverage, credit card fraud protection, and zero deductible on loss of use claims.
Specific coverages offered to educators include coverage for up to $3,000 in teaching materials and equipment, coverage for theft of fund-raising cash and goods, educator’s excess liability, and a survivor benefit for school violence victims.
For firefighters and peace officers, extra benefits are coverage for turnout gear and firearms, personally owned uniform coverage, and a survivor benefit.
Like the auto program, home insurance has a range of available discounts including common choices like protective systems and multi-policy.
In addition to standard homeowner’s package policies, California Casualty also has policies for renters, mobile homes, and condos.
California Casualty offers two additional property insurance options: flood insurance and earthquake coverage. They also write personal umbrella policies.
Pet health insurance is offered but is underwritten by Pets Best through a affiliation, and not by any of the group of companies directly.
California Casualty offers online quoting for both auto and home insurance. As part of the process, visitors will be required to select the category to which they belong and of which association they are a member, as well as entering personal information.
Based on our sample rate quote, California Casualty’s rates are well below the average. We ran a sample for an educator who is a single male and 30 years old, with a 2010 Honda Accord and a clean record. Our rate, for full coverage and higher-than-minimum coverage, came back at $110 a month. That is for a 12-month policy, which means the monthly rate is locked in for longer than most companies offer.
The California Department of Insurance’s premium comparison chart puts California Casualty among the lowest-priced options. Their rates beat all of the big-name insurance companies operating in the state.
Claims can be reported either via the 24/7 toll-free claims line, or by using the online claim form that is available for both auto and home claims. Glass and roadside assistance claims both have different phone numbers to call for direct assistance. Glass-only claims are handled by Gerber National Glass.
The website has a straightforward section that provides details on what to expect from the claims process. While the customer can use any repair shop of their choosing, California Casualty does have a Guaranteed Repair Network of selected shops that will provide a lifetime warranty on repairs (for as long as you own the vehicle, which means it is not transferable).
Ratings and Consumer Reviews
California Casualty Group has been Better Business Bureau (BBB) accredited since 2011. They currently have an A+ rating with only eight complaints on file in the past three years. The three reviews on the site all have detailed responses from the company, and we see nothing of major concern there.
There are 76 reviews of the company on Yelp, with an overall 1.5-star rating. The complaints center on poor customer service and slow claims handling. Several are not from California Casualty customers but from those involved in an accident with an insured, others are complaints from people who were not happy with the quoting process. There are also some positive reviews mixed in with the negative.
The complaint volume is not particularly high overall.
The Bottom Line
California Casualty has reasonable rates for its target market. If you are part of one of their affinity groups, it is worth getting a quote to compare to your current coverage. They have solid insurance programs with extras included that may make it worth the switch even if their rate is not better that what you are currently paying.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.