Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate drivers about...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Licensed Agent for 10 Years

UPDATED: Aug 27, 2019

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Auto insurance comparison can seem like a challenge at times but using a side by side comparison it’s often easy to analyze which auto insurance company may be right for you.

It is very important to make objective comparisons of these companies not based solely on price, but on how the company’s business practices will fit with your needs and lifestyle.

For example, comparing Esurance (which is an almost totally online insurance company) and Nationwide (which has independent agents all over the country) can give you a better picture of how each company will work for you than simply comparing prices.

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Nationwide Auto Insurance History

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company was not always the national company, doing business in almost every state, which you see today. The company began humbly enough in 1925 as Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company of Columbus, Ohio.

The original purpose Nationwide was to offer affordable car insurance rates to farmers, who often were unable to purchase indemnity policies from larger, “city” carriers.

The company’s practices and products soon caught the attention of the public at large, however, and the company which would evolve into Nationwide Insurance in 1955, continued to grow across the nation.

Today, Nationwide is one of the largest mutual insurance companies in the country, with annual revenues of $21.8 billion. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio at One Nationwide Plaza the company occupies the city’s largest building and is a considered landmark by residents.

The company operates through a network of independent insurance agents in almost every state and region, and today incorporates financial services as well as automobile, home and life insurance products into its sales.

Read a full Nationwide Auto Insurance Review

Esurance History

No greater disparity can be imagined than that between the slow and steadily-growing giant of Nationwide and the young, upstart company called “Esurance.”

Esurance was the brainchild of some computer experts in California, who wanted to see if a totally online insurance company could succeed.

Founded in 1998, the company was soon sold to insurance “experts,” the founders having created the basis for an almost totally-online sales and management format.

Today, the company is owned by the Allstate and sells approximately $781 million worth of insurance each year.

Esurance has based its reputation and business model on primarily online interactions between customers and staff. While telephone support is available, the online format is the primary method of dealing with this company.

For this reason, Esurance may be more appealing to a younger market, used to paying bills and doing business over the internet. For those who crave a face-to-face agent, this company may not be the best choice.

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Nationwide Customer Satisfaction Ratings

For such a large and diverse company, Nationwide’s customer service ratings are surprising low. In the J. D. Power and Associates 2011 customer satisfaction survey, Nationwide scored “below average,” or two out of five stars on overall customer satisfaction.

The company scored two out of five stars for pricing, as well, and three out of five stars (or average) for billing and payment, contacting the insurer and policy offerings.

The overall score for Nationwide as compared to other companies in the Power’s survey was 767 out of 1,000 points. This placed Nationwide 22nd among the 33 companies compared in the Customer Satisfaction Index.

Esurance Customer Satisfaction Ratings

Esurance also had very low scores on the J. D. Power customer satisfaction survey. Esurance scored two out of five stars, or “below average,” for overall customer satisfaction, and also scored two out of five stars for policy offerings, pricing, and billing and payment.

Only in the “contacting the insurer” category did Esurance score “average,” or three out of five stars.

Esurance’s ratings on the Customer Satisfaction Index were even lower. The company scored only 763 out of 1,000 points, giving it 24th place out of the 33 companies examined.

Which auto insurance company is better for you – Esurance or Nationwide?

Neither company has garnered impressive customer service rankings, but this does not mean that one might not be the right company for your particular needs.

Both Nationwide and Esurance are very strong brands in the auto insurance industry and neither company significantly outperforms the other in customer satisfaction.

Outside of customer service and cost you also need to think about what is important to you in terms of relating to the company.

For example, if you are perfectly comfortable doing most or all of your insurance business online, including paying your bill, filing and managing claims and seeking answers to questions, there is no doubt that Esurance is a company you could consider.

On the other hand, if you prefer the traditional, agent-based approach to purchasing and managing your car insurance, you should definitely consider a company like Nationwide instead.

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