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J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Customer Satisfaction with Auto Insurance Companies Declines Considerably from 2009
added: 2010-08-03

After peaking in 2009, overall customer satisfaction with insurance companies has declined significantly in 2010, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. National Auto Insurance Study(SM) released today. Overall customer satisfaction averages 777 on a 1,000-point scale, decreasing by 10 points from 2009.

The study measures customer satisfaction with auto insurance companies across five factors: interaction; policy offerings; billing and payment; price; and claims. The decline in overall customer satisfaction in 2010 is largely attributable to declining satisfaction with price, which has decreased by more than 30 index points compared with 2009. At the same time, price has also gained in relative importance as a driver of overall satisfaction.

The study finds the proportion of customers who report experiencing an increase in premiums has increased significantly to 22 percent in 2010, compared with 17 percent in 2009. In addition, six in ten policyholders who have experienced a premium increase indicate they received no advance notice of the change from their insurers.

"Now that the market has stabilized, consumers are feeling more in control of their finances and have become more aware of and sensitive to the rate increases that have started to occur since the recent recessionary period," said Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "As a result, customers are considerably less satisfied with their insurer and their rates, and have begun shopping for new insurers at unprecedented high levels not seen since prior to the recession."

Amica Mutual ranks highest in customer satisfaction with auto insurance companies for an 11th consecutive year with a score of 849. Erie Insurance (815) and Auto-Owners Insurance (813) follow in the rankings. New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company (NJM) and USAA also achieve high levels of customer satisfaction, although they are not included in the rankings due to the closed natures of their respective memberships.

The study also finds the following key trends among Generation Y (Gen Y) auto insurance customers (those born between 1977 and 1994):

- Gen Y customers tend to be more critical of their insurance providers, compared with consumers in other generational groups, particularly regarding the ease of contacting a representative and receiving clear explanations of their insurance policies.

- Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) tend to place a great deal of importance on traditional communications from their insurer, such as a new customer welcome kits, newsletters and magazines. Meanwhile, Gen Y customers are more concerned with being able to access their policy information online.

- While website usage among Baby Boomers is increasing, 40 percent of Baby Boomers report using their insurer's website to review or make changes to their policies, compared with 60 percent of Gen Y customers.

While use of insurer websites continues to increase, other interaction channels—such as mobile phones—are beginning to emerge, with both agent-based and direct insurers rapidly introducing smartphone applications into the market. According to the J.D. Power Insurance Intelligence Monitor, insurance customers—particularly Gen Y customers—are apt to use mobile phone apps that keep their needs in mind, such as the Nationwide "accident toolkit" or the USAA app that allows users to display their policy information during a traffic stop.

"This type of functionality goes beyond simple information delivery—it involves providing real tools and services customers need, use and appreciate," said Bowler. "It's likely that these value-added apps could contribute to brand loyalty—and even the creation of brand ambassadors."

Source: PR Newswire

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