Note that no insurance company is allowed to use the promise of a dividend in its marketing efforts because it's considered unfair competition, and those dividends are not guaranteed. Still, when asked, our ACSC agent said his company has paid out an average 9 percent dividend over the last 15 years. So it's crucial that you ask about the possibility of a dividend when you shop for a quote, because the sales agent won't offer that information.
Why can some companies offer a dividend and not others? Because of their corporate structure. According to the Insurance Information Institute, insurance companies are generally either stock-form entities, such as Allstate or MetLife, whose shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), or mutually owned enterprises, like State Farm, which offer dividends on occasion to its owners/policyholders.
The cost difference between ACSC and Amica came down to very little — at least to start. We'd be paying more to ACSC the first year, but the assumed dividend would bring the second year's cost down to $17 less than Amica's. More importantly, that dividend would continue to grow for years to come. ANPAC's quote was so far out of line with the others that we had trouble believing it, but we double-checked it.