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The company was founded in 1874. At the time, it existed as a mutual organization to protect Midwestern farmers and pioneers who could not obtain insurance through regular means. Since people living on the “new frontier” were in a position to face unexpected risks, most insurers were reluctant to extend coverage to people heading west. The company still operates as a mutual firm, and though it still insures farms, its focus has expanded to include businesses of all kinds.
Over the last 140 years, the company has grown and acquired numerous other insurers, allowing it to broaden its scope and gain many new customers. Today, Columbia Insurance Group is comprised of five major subsidiaries: Association Casualty, Citizens Mutual, Columbia Mutual, Columbia National, and Georgia Casualty & Surety.
Columbia Insurance is primarily a business insurer, offering various commercial and farm policies. The company does, however, sell some personal insurance to individuals, particularly auto insurance and umbrella coverage.
Columbia Insurance sells personal auto insurance for passenger vehicles like cars and pickups. Coverages offered are pretty standard for auto insurance:
- Physical damage to the vehicle as caused by a collision or non-collision source (comprehensive coverage).
- Liability insurance to pay for damages and injuries you may cause when operating your vehicle.
- Uninsured motorist coverage to pay for damages to a vehicle when it’s involved in an accident with someone who has no insurance. Uninsured motorist coverage sometimes has a lower deductible than collision, allowing you to save some money when you are not at fault but the other driver cannot pay for your damages.
- In some states, first-party medical coverage is also available. This may be called medical payments coverage or personal injury protection, and the amount of coverage available will vary according to state laws.
In addition to personal auto, Columbia also offers coverage for recreational trailers, motor homes, classic/antique cars, and camper bodies.
Most insurers sell umbrella coverage as part of their home insurance package, but Columbia offers standalone umbrella policies for individuals up to $1 million.
Umbrella insurance is basically a type of general liability insurance that helps to protect you from lawsuits. It primarily exists to soak up the excess liability from other types of insurance, like a car accident that exceeds your auto policy’s liability limits. It can also help pay for lawsuits arising from injuries that happen on your property, like when a person slips on your porch or gets bitten by your dog.
Although many people could benefit from umbrella insurance, these policies are most valuable for high net-worth individuals with significant personal assets. This is because people with higher incomes are more attractive targets for lawsuits, meaning that they need more liability insurance to offset that risk.
Columbia’s specialty is commercial insurance, and it sells a number of policies for various types of businesses:
- Commercial auto insurance, which provides both damage and liability protection for company vehicles.
- Business owners insurance, which is a bundle of coverages designed to cover the basic needs of a small business. It includes general liability, some specialized liability related to the industry, and commercial property to protect your company’s belongings.
- If you don’t want the bundle, you can also purchase general liability and commercial property insurance individually.
- Business umbrella coverage, which acts as supplemental liability insurance.
- Workers compensation, which is required by law in most areas. This allows you to pay for medical expenses and time off work when an employee is injured on the job.
Like many insurance companies, Columbia traces its roots back to farming communities, and it continues to service the needs of both small and commercial farms.
Farm owners insurance is generally similar to business insurance, but there is additional coverage to meet a farmer’s more unique needs. For example, farm plans may cover lost crops or damaged seeds in addition to farm vehicles and equipment.
You’ll need to review your options and put together a policy that suits the needs of your particular farming enterprise since coverages can vary greatly between policies.
All Columbia policies are sold through agencies, therefore we are unable to obtain a quote or policy online. The website does, however, offer an extensive listing of agents. You can search by city/state or zip code to find the closest agent to you.
Claim information is available on the Columbia website under the “Claims“ header.
Claims are handled by various service centers throughout the country. The number you call will depend on where you live and what type of claim you’ll be filing. Use the “Find a Claims Service Center” option and fill in the appropriate form to find the right contact person for your needs.
Columbia Insurance Group is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau and currently holds an A+rating. There is only one listing for the company on the BBB website listed for a location in Nebraska. There is just one complaint listed in the last three years.
That said, tracking down specific reviews and comments on the company is a bit of a challenge since most of its business is commercial and farm insurance. Businesses rarely leave consumer reviews of other businesses, so these “B2B” type companies tend to have fewer reviews and complaints published than a straight-to-consumer insurer.
If you’re researching Columbia Insurance Group for yourself, it’s also important to know that there are two companies that share this name. The company reviewed here is the older and larger insurer, headquartered in Missouri. A smaller local company by the same name is headquartered in Vancouver, Washington. When looking for reviews, be sure to double-check which company is being reviewed before drawing any conclusions.
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From our research and information on the website, there is no indication that the personal auto coverage from Columbia offers more than the typical coverage you would expect to see everywhere. If you’re looking for farm and business insurance in the Midwest, however, this company might be a good fit. Your experience will likely depend on the quality of your agent and the cost of the particular coverages that you need.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.