First Acceptance sells car insurance to customers wanting to stay on the right side of the law. The personal auto insurer operates its business in a dozen states, specializing in providing non-standard auto insurance (insurance for drivers who have trouble getting coverage because of poor driving records or payment histories). As part of its business, First Acceptance sells its policies under the brand names Acceptance Insurance (in the Chicago area), Yale Insurance, and Insurance Plus brand. Altogether, the company operates about 350 retail offices staffed by employee agents and through independent agents at more than a dozen retail locations.
First Acceptance is vertically-integrated. It underwrites, sells, and services its products, which is unusual in the insurance industry. Unlike the majority of insurers that use independent agents to sell its products, First Acceptance keeps its sales, marketing, and policy upkeep under its own roof. Though it operates in only a dozen central and southern states, First Acceptance is licensed in 25. Together, Georgia, Texas, and Illinois comprise almost half of the company's earned premiums. Prior to the economic downturn, the company worked to expand its geographic reach by entering new markets and acquiring local non-standard agencies in other markets, such as Chicago, South Carolina, and Texas.
Economic woes have made life difficult for First Acceptance's customers. The company's renewal rate sagged as customers reduced or dropped their coverage. As a result, policies in force decreased. In response, the company closed more than 10% of its retail locations by 2010, rolled out a new pricing program in 2011, and began considering new means of distribution for its products.
Chairman Gerald Ford owns 58% of First Acceptance.
Formerly known as Liberté Investors, the company once operated in real estate. But after Liberté acquired USAuto Holdings in 2004, it changed its name and started a new life in non-standard auto insurance. The company still owns a small amount of foreclosed property held for sale. – less
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