Auto Owners Ranks Top in Consumer Ranking of Insurance Claims Handling; Study Finds That Overall Consumer Satisfaction is Up
November 23, 2009

Auto Owners Insurance ranked top in a recent study conducted by J.D. Power and Associates that looked at consumer satisfaction with handling of insurance claims. The study, which looked at a number of companies, also found that overall claimant satisfaction was up over 2008—and, on average, claimants reported a satisfaction level of 842 out of 1000, up 24 points from the previous year.

Claimants also reported increased satisfaction in the time it took to settle claims and the fairness involved. The study found that in 2009, on average it took most insurers only 12.6 days to settle a claim, compared with 14.8 days in 2008.

"The current economic situation appears to be having a positive effect on the auto claims experience," says Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "The rate of road accidents is generally down, and consequently, fewer customers are filing claims and getting their vehicles repaired. As a result, repair facilities have a lower volume of work, which has considerably shortened the time it takes to schedule and start repairs, all of which contribute to the two-day shortening of claim cycle time. In fact, 96 percent of claimants report having received a repair appointment at their desired date and time, which has a significant impact on satisfaction."

The study also looked at customer retention, and found that customers that are satisfied with the claims process are more likely to both renew with their insurers and recommend their insurers to others, compared with less satisfied customers.

For example, among customers whose insurers achieve high levels of satisfaction (scores of 858 or higher), 65 percent say they "definitely will" renew with their insurers, while only 43 percent of customers whose insurers have low satisfaction levels (scores of 818 or lower) say the same. In addition, 57 percent of customers whose insurers achieve high levels of satisfaction say they "definitely will" recommend their insurer to others, compared with only 35 percent of customers whose insurers have low satisfaction levels.

The study also finds that claimant expectations and satisfaction can depend on who they deal with at various points in the process. For example, satisfaction tends to be higher among customers whose claims experience involves reporting their claim to their local agents, rather than directly to their insurers.

"While insurance providers often have their own unique strategy to handle claims, it's important that providers focus on optimizing the process to improve satisfaction," adds Bowler. "Some claimants may have only one contact point with the insurance provider throughout the entire process, making that one contact even more crucial in determining the customer's overall satisfaction with the claims experience."

The study measures claimant satisfaction with the claims process for an auto physical damage loss. Depending upon the complexity of a claim, the customer may experience all or only some of the following factors: first notice of loss; service interaction; appraisal; repair process; rental experience; and claim settlement.

With a score of 883, Auto-Owners ranked highest in providing a satisfying claims experience for auto insurance customers, performing particularly well in the first notice of loss, service interaction and claim settlement areas.

GMAC followed Auto-Owners in the rankings with a score of 871, and The Hartford ranked third with a score of 870.

The 2009 Auto Claims Satisfaction Study is based on 11,616 responses from auto insurance customers who filed a claim within the past 12 months with their current auto insurance providers. The study was fielded from June to July 2009.

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