Published May 15, 2007
Volume 15, Number 5

Commerce West Is Poised for Growth

Commerce West’s John Donahue notes the company’s pride in
their  history, which goes back to its 1949 founding as Western
Pioneer  Insurance Co.  

By Barbara Lewis

In 1948, Commerce West Insurance Company was founded by a group of Japanese-American businessmen who had been denied insurance because of ethnic discrimination.  Its original name, Western Pioneer Insurance Company, eventually was changed to Commerce West Insurance Company, but the company has provided personal lines of automobile insurance to Californians for 59 years.  Purchased by the Commerce Insurance Group during the 1990s, Commerce West still serves thousands of people of Japanese heritage.

Today, Commerce West insures Arizona and Oregon drivers as well as Californians, offering preferred and non-standard private passenger automobile plans and a light commercial automobile product for small fleets of vehicles, which was added in 2000.  Recently, the company began offering homeowners coverage as well.

Commerce West products are offered through a network of approximately 1200 independent agents who are supported by 80 employees at company headquarters, 4301 Hacienda Drive, Suite 200.  “Commerce West is committed to providing our agents with excellent service in all areas:  underwriting, claims, customer service and billing,” say Chief Operations Officer John Donahue. “Building solid, long-term relationships with our producers is critical to our success.  We’re interested in partnering with agencies whose producers are established, profitable, committed to automation and share our ambitious goals and the determination to meet them.  Our agency appointment and selection criteria are stringent.”  

Commerce West agents in the Tri-Valley area include Acceptance Insurance Services, Granite Professional Insurance Brokerage and Pleasanton Valley Insurance in Pleasanton as well as Centurion Insurance Agency and Pinco Insurance Services in Dublin.

“The perfect customer for our agents is the average individual who needs insurance coverage for a private-owned vehicle or home,” Mr. Donahue continues. “Also, a small to medium-size company with a small fleet of delivery vehicles is a good fit for our products.”  

Currently, Commerce Insurance Group ranks 19th in size among personal lines insurance companies in the United States.  According to Mr. Donahue, the company is poised to grow rapidly over the next three to five years by expanding its presence throughout the southwestern United States.  “With that growth is the commitment to become more active in the community and the nonprofit sector,” he concludes.  “Our employees are looking forward to more involvement in the local business community as well as in charitable causes and events.”

Commerce West is a member of The Commerce Group, Inc., of Webster, Mass., which reports over $2 billion in annual premiums and $1.5 billion in stockholder equity. Commerce West is rated "A+" (Superior) by A.M. Best and ranks as one of the top 50 automobile insurance companies in California.  For more information, visit www.commercewest.net.


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