Shelter Auto Insurance Review

Good policies and generous discounts for drivers in select states

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Shelter Insurance

Shelter Insurance

overall rating
3.0

Our Take 

Shelter Insurance is a good car insurance company overall, but only if you live in one of the 15 states where coverage is available. Shelter offers a variety of optional policies and multiple discounts, including some unique savings opportunities. However, you will need to work with an agent to purchase a policy after getting a quote online. 

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Specifications
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Variety of optional coverages

  • Many discounts available

  • Dedicated to community involvement

Cons
  • Can’t purchase a policy online

  • Limited coverage area

  • Many discounts are not available in all states

Key Takeaways
  • Shelter Insurance was founded in 1946 and is based in Columbia, MO.
  • The company offers a variety of optional car insurance policies and 13 discounts.
  • Shelter has higher than average complaints for auto insurance.
  • Drivers must purchase car insurance through a Shelter agent.
Specifications
  • Year Founded 1946
  • Types of Coverage Bodily injury liability, property damage liability collision, comprehensive, medical payments, personal injury protection, uninsured/underinsured motorist, roadside assistance, new car replacement, rental reimbursement, accidental death, disability income, gap insurance, loss of use
  • Available Discounts 13
  • Purchasing Options Phone, local agent
  • Customer Service Phone: 1-800-743-5837; Email: online form
  • Official Website https://www.shelterinsurance.com/

Pros Explained

  • Variety of optional coverages: Shelter Insurance offers several optional coverages, which is ideal for drivers who want to personalize their policy with endorsements for additional protection. 
  • Many discounts available: Drivers can take advantage of 13 discounts through Shelter, including some hard-to-find savings opportunities that many competitors do not offer.
  • Dedicated to community involvement: Shelter prioritizes community involvement, partnering with a variety of charities like the Ronald McDonald House, local food banks, and veteran assistance organizations to give back.

Cons Explained

  • Can’t purchase a policy online: Although Shelter does offer online quotes for car insurance, you cannot purchase a policy online. You must work with a local agent.
  • Limited coverage area: Shelter only sells car insurance in 15 states: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.
  • Many discounts are not available in all states: Shelter offers lots of discounts, but many are only available in select states. For example, military personnel can only get a discount in Louisiana.

Introduction

Missouri-based Shelter Insurance Group was founded in 1946 and sells auto insurance in 15 states. Shelter has all the standard car insurance coverages, like collision and comprehensive insurance, as well as a variety of optional policies for more tailored protection. Shelter also offers many discounts to help drivers get a lower car insurance premium.

While Shelter is a good car insurance company overall, it does have several drawbacks. Namely, you have to work with a Shelter agent to purchase a car insurance policy. Additionally, the company has many complaints, which suggests it doesn’t have the best customer service or claim handling.

Company Overview

Shelter Insurance is based in Columbia, MO, and is the 28th largest auto insurance company on the market. Shelter began selling auto insurance exclusively in 1946, eventually expanding its coverage area to 15 states. Shelter offers basic auto insurance coverage, with several optional endorsements. The company does not advertise non-standard insurance, including SR-22s.

Types of Coverage

Shelter Insurance offers a variety of auto insurance policies. In addition to a minimum coverage or full coverage policy, you can also purchase optional endorsements to fill gaps in your standard policy and get additional protection. Here are the coverage options available through Shelter Insurance.

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance is required in most states and includes bodily injury and property damage coverage. If you cause an accident, this policy helps pay for the other driver’s losses and covers your legal defense if you get sued. Shelter’s liability insurance does not require a deductible, and you can set your own coverage limits. 

Collision Insurance

Collision insurance covers your vehicle’s repairs after an accident you cause, up to your car’s actual cash value. This type of insurance is included with a full coverage policy and requires a deductible, which you get to choose.

Comprehensive Insurance

Comprehensive insurance pays for your vehicle’s repairs after a non-collision claim, like theft, vandalism, damage from falling objects, flooding, and weather-related damage. It offers compensation up to your car’s actual cash value, minus your deductible.

Medical Payments

Medical payments coverage is typically included with a full coverage policy and helps pay for your injuries and medical bills after an accident you cause. Shelter’s medical payments insurance doesn’t have a deductible.

Personal Injury Insurance

Shelter also sells personal injury protection (PIP), which is required in no-fault states. It covers your medical bills after a crash, regardless of which driver was responsible. It may also pay for funeral services and lost wages. Drivers in some fault states can also purchase this policy as an endorsement, which does not have a deductible. 

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance

Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance protects you financially if you get hit by a driver who does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to pay for your losses in full. Shelter sells uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage and uninsured motorist property damage coverage. This policy is required in some states but usually doesn’t have a deductible.

Roadside Assistance

Shelter includes roadside assistance for free with every car insurance policy. It covers the cost of basic roadside vehicle repairs, like flat tire changes, a new battery, fuel delivery if you run out of gas, and towing up to a certain distance. Shelter’s roadside assistance provides 24/7 support and covers up to $100 in services per call.

Gap Insurance

If you lease or finance your vehicle, gap insurance can be beneficial. If your car is totaled, this policy will pay the difference between your vehicle’s diminished value and the remaining loan balance if your collision insurance isn’t sufficient. Shelter’s gap insurance does not have a deductible. 

Gap insurance is often sold by leasing companies. Consider comparing the cost of gap insurance from your lender and your insurance company to see which one is the cheapest option. 

New Car Replacement

New car replacement coverage from Shelter is free with every full coverage policy. If your car is totaled in a covered accident, Shelter will pay for a brand new car of the same year, make, and model, with no deductible required. However, you can only take advantage of this policy if your car was purchased within the last year and has less than 15,000 miles.

Rental Car Reimbursement

Rental car reimbursement will pay for a loaner vehicle if your car needs to be repaired after a covered claim. In some cases, Shelter will also provide a rental vehicle if your car is stolen and you have comprehensive insurance. 

Accidental Death Coverage

Shelter is one of the few insurance providers that sells optional accidental death coverage. This policy will provide a death benefit if you or your spouse are in a fatal accident. You can choose to extend this coverage to children or other family members for an additional cost.

Disability Income Insurance

Disability income insurance is an optional coverage that is available in select states. If you get into an accident and you are unable to work due to injuries, Shelter will provide weekly income replacement for up to one year.

Loss of Use Insurance

Shelter’s loss of use endorsement provides a one-time payment if your vehicle needs to be repaired after a covered accident. There is no deductible, but the amount of money you get is determined based on your car’s actual cash value and the cost of the repairs.

Discounts

Shelter Insurance offers 13 discounts to help drivers save money on their auto insurance premiums. However, keep in mind that many discounts are only available in select states. While some car insurance discounts are reflected in your online quote, you will need to work with an agent to qualify for certain ones.

In addition, Shelter will look at your credit score to determine your car insurance premium. Generally speaking, the higher your credit is, the lower your premium. However, taking advantage of discounts can help lower your rate, even with poor credit.

Safe Driver Discounts

  • Safe driver: Drivers who have no accidents or violations on their record can qualify for a lower rate. Shelter may increase the discount after drivers have been accident and violation-free for six years.
  • Driver training course: If you have drivers under 21 in your household, you can qualify for a driver training course discount if they each complete an approved driver education course.
  • Accident prevention course: Shelter may lower your car insurance rate if you’re the primary driver on your policy and you complete an accident prevention course.

Driver Profile Discounts

  • Good student: The good student discount is offered to primary drivers who meet excellent student requirements based on their class rank, GPA, or academic honors. To get this discount, the driver must have a valid driver’s license and qualify before turning 19. This discount remains active until the driver turns 25, as long as they are unmarried. 
  • Military: In Louisiana only, active-duty military personnel can get a lower car insurance rate. Spouses and children of active duty service members can also qualify for a discount.

Vehicle Equipment Discounts

  • Anti-theft: The anti-theft discount can help you get a lower rate if your car has safety devices, such as a basic alarm or steering wheel lock, to prevent theft. This discount is only available in Kentucky and Illinois.
  • Window identification system: The window identification system discount can help you get a lower comprehensive coverage premium if your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) is etched into every window of the vehicle. This discount is only offered in Louisiana.
  • Passive restraint: Drivers can save money if their vehicle has factory-installed airbags and automatic seat belts that meet federal safety standards.

Policy Discounts

  • Multi-car: You can get a discount when you insure two or more vehicles on your Shelter insurance policy.
  • Companion policy: If you are at least 48 years old and have a Shelter homeowners insurance or farm owners insurance policy, you can save money when you open an auto insurance policy.
  • Companion life: If you purchase a life insurance policy and a qualifying property policy from Shelter, you can qualify for a lower car insurance premium. 
  • Multi-coverage: Shelter will lower your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage premium if you insure two cars, motor homes, or motorcycles with Shelter. This discount is only available to drivers in Nevada.

Payment Options

  • Pay in full: Drivers who pay their annual car insurance bi-annually or annually can save up to 10% on their premium.

Loss Ratio

Shelter’s loss ratio is 68.37%, which is calculated by dividing the company’s total claim payouts by the total number of premiums earned. Shelter’s loss ratio is about average compared to many of its competitors. Its loss ratio is accurately reflected in its average car insurance premium of $1,601. 

Other Features

Shelter offers comprehensive car insurance coverage and is one of the few providers that offer free roadside assistance and new car replacement coverage with every policy. Usually, drivers pay extra for these policies. In addition, you can report a claim 24/7 by calling the company at 1-800-743-5837.

Customer Service

Shelter’s customer service is fairly basic. You can get in touch with the company by calling 1-800-743-5837. You can also reach the company via email by filling out the online form.

Shelter does not offer 24/7 customer service for basic policy management—it only applies to claim reporting. The company’s regular business hours are Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT.

Keep in mind that if you are contacting your Shelter agent, they will have a different phone number and different business hours than the headquarters. You can use the find an agent tool to search for an agent in your area or get the contact information for your existing Shelter agent.

Customer Satisfaction 

Overall, Shelter customers are satisfied with the company. Online reviews indicate that policyholders have no major issues with customer service, claim handling, or claim payouts. However, some customers have complained about high premiums, unexpected policy cancellations, and unfriendly agents.

In terms of financial strength, Shelter earned an "A" rating from AM Best, which means it has excellent financial stability. It also shows that the company has sufficient funds to repay policyholders after a covered loss and is unlikely to declare bankruptcy or go out of business.

Satisfaction Ratings

In J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Auto Insurance Study, Shelter Insurance was rated the top car insurance provider for overall satisfaction in the Central Region, including Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. It was ranked first on the list of 13 providers, with a score of 856/1,000.

Because Shelter Insurance is a smaller, regional car insurance provider, J.D. Power does not rate Shelter for claim or purchase satisfaction. 

Complaint Index

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Company Complaint Index scores insurance companies based on complaints from real customers around premiums, claims, agent interactions, and more.

Although Shelter has excellent customer satisfaction and financial strength ratings, the company has a very high number of complaints. Shelter’s complaint index for auto insurance is 4.91, which is much higher than the industry average of 1.0.

Account Management

Shelter Insurance has pretty good policy management capabilities. Through the online customer portal, you can see your policy information, download your ID cards, pay your premium, track your claims, and contact your agent. There is also a mobile app with the same features, plus the option to request roadside assistance. If you have questions about your policy or need to make changes, you can always call your agent or visit them in person at a local office.

How Shelter Compares to Other Auto Insurance Companies

While car insurance rates are personalized for every driver, Shelter’s average insurance premiums are on par with many of its competitors. With Shelter, the average policyholder pays $1,601 per year. Companies like COUNTRY Financial ($1,122) and Erie ($1,082) have lower rates, while other providers like Kemper ($2,190) and Amica ($2,374) have much higher premiums.

To find the lowest car insurance premium, shop around and get multiple quotes for the same type and amount of coverage. That way, it’s easy to see which company can offer you the lowest rate.

Final Verdict

Shelter is a good option for car insurance if you’re within the coverage area. The company offers a wide variety of endorsements, plus you get free roadside assistance and new car replacement coverage with every policy. Shelter also has great discounts, although some are not available in every state.

If you’re looking for a provider with great service, spend some time reviewing Shelter’s third-party ratings. According to J.D. Power, Shelter is the best provider for overall customer satisfaction in the Central Region, but the company also has a very high number of complaints. However, reviews indicate that customers are generally satisfied with the company in terms of cost, claims, and coverage.

Methodology 

All of our reviews of auto insurance companies are based on extensive research and analysis of each company’s coverage, customer service, pricing, years in business, accreditation, and more. To rate Shelter Insurance and other providers, we developed an auto insurance review methodology that compares the auto insurance coverage types, additional features, discounts, account management, and reported customer experiences to help us provide insights into things like customer service and the strength of each company’s offerings.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Shelter Insurance. "Community Involvement." Accessed Nov. 24, 2021.

  2. Shelter Insurance. "About Shelter." Accessed Nov. 24, 2021.

  3. NAIC. "NAIC Market Share Reports 2018-2020." Accessed Nov. 24, 2021.

  4. Shelter Insurance. "Contact Us." Accessed Nov. 24, 2021.

  5. Shelter Insurance. "Financial Strength and Stability." Accessed Nov. 24, 2021.

  6. J.D. Power. "Auto Insurance Customer Satisfaction Stalls Despite $18 Billion in Premium Relief, J.D. Power Finds." Accessed Nov. 24, 2021.

  7. NAIC. "Shelter Gen Ins Co National Complaint Index Report." Accessed Nov. 24, 2021.

  8. Shelter Insurance. "Mobile Apps." Accessed Nov. 24, 2021.