J.D. Powers Study Reveals Consumers Prefer Insurance Companies Who Place Fewer Restrictions in Selecting Body Shops

According to a study recently conducted by Westlake Village, Calif.-based J.D. Powers and Associates, consumers who use an auto insurance provider that requires a vehicle to be taken to one of its "preferred provider" body shops for collision repairs or body work are less satisfied overall than those who are able to choose their own repair shop.

The study, which measures customer satisfaction with insurance carriers when claims are filed,
finds that consumers whose insurance provider stipulated which body shop they had to use expressed the greatest dissatisfaction. Consumers whose insurance provider gave them a choice of two or more body shops to select from were slightly more satisfied, but remained less satisfied than those who selected their own body shop.

"Insurance companies have developed these programs to help get the best repairs at the best price, while at the same time making the collision repair process convenient for their customers," said Jeremy Bowler, director of the finance and insurance practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "This seems like a win-win situation; however, in reality, consumers want to have some control over where they take their vehicle for repairs. Preferred provider programs have taken away some of that freedom from consumers."

Among the insurance providers included in the study, State Farm ranks highest in collision repair satisfaction, performing particularly well in the areas of claims representatives and the quality of work performed at the body shop. The Hartford, Erie, MetLife, Nationwide and GEICO follow State Farm in the rankings, respectively.

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