Poll Shows Consumers More Satisfied with Auto Insurance Cos.

The results of this year’s J.D. Power and Associates U.S. National Auto Insurance Study suggest that Americans’ average overall satisfaction levels with their insurers has gone up since last year, but only slightly.

Satisfaction with auto insurance companiesIndustry-wide, consumers gave auto insurers an average score of 790 out of a possible 1,000 points. That’s an increase of about 1.7 percent from last year.

This year’s results represent the opinions of nearly 28,000 respondents from a survey conducted between March and May 2011, according to J.D. Power. Respondents evaluated the insurers on interaction, premiums, policy offerings, billing and payment, and claims.

The marketing information services company said the overall increase “is the result of an improvement across all factors driving satisfaction, particularly the billing and payment and interaction factors.”

Rankings for 35 of the companies evaluated in the survey have been publicized. An additional 10 insurers were included in the survey, but their detailed results were not published because they had smaller market shares and had limited availability.

Of those 35, 11 had overall satisfaction scores that were higher than the industry average.

Amica Mutual had the highest overall satisfaction, according to the published results, while Commerce ranked lowest among the 35 larger insurers.

The best rated auto insurance companies were actually New Jersey Manufacturers and USAA, coming in with scores of 843 and 898, respectively, but neither was eligible for the highest-satisfaction award because they provide coverage only to certain demographics.

In the announcement of the results, J.D. Power highlighted a new trend indicating that satisfaction reported by consumers who bundle homeowners and car coverage — meaning they purchase both from the same insurer — was actually lower than those who buy them from separate insurers or buy only car insurance. This was unexpected, since most insurers give customers discounts for bundling.

According to J.D. Power, “58 percent of customers bundle their auto and homeowners policy with the same insurer.”

But satisfaction among bundlers was up by less than 1 percent between 2010 and 2011, while satisfaction among the other types of policyholders increased by about 2.5 percent.

The trend was especially prominent in the pricing category. Jeremy Bowler, the senior director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power, attributes this new development to a dilution of the positive effects of the bundling discount.

“In comparison [to bundling], accident forgiveness, ticket forgiveness and claims-free discounts are less common in the marketplace and have a dramatic impact on satisfaction — each creating more than a 40-point lift in satisfaction with discounts,” Bowler said in the announcement of the results.


About Ben Zitney
Benjamin Zitney has been covering the auto insurance industry for the past 2.5 years. Before coming to Online Auto Insurance News, he produced an extensive company history of the 30-year-old California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and worked at the Cal State Long Beach Daily Forty-Niner as a reporter, copy editor and news editor.

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