J.D. Powers Releases Customer Satisfaction Report; Study Probes Customer/Agent Relationship Sept. 2

September 20, 2000

Automotive insurance policyholders report relatively high satisfaction with their current auto insurance carrier, according to the inaugural J.D. Power and Associates National Auto Insurance Customer Satisfaction StudySM released Monday. Amica Mutual ranks highest in the study, followed by Erie Insurance and State Farm Mutual Insurance.

Although these three providers have unique business models, each excels in the areas of meeting customer requirements related to service, billing and handling claims. The primary drivers of overall satisfaction with an automotive insurance carrier include: the ability of the carrier to fulfill the commitments made at the time of purchase; the ongoing support and guidance provided by company personnel; billing practices; and price competitiveness.

“The study shows that the ability of insurance providers to settle claims quickly and fairly is also extremely important to those policyholders who have filed a claim,” said Frank Forkin, partner at J.D. Power and Associates. “However, only 34 percent of policyholders report filing a claim in the past three years. Therefore, the interaction between the insurance carrier and the policyholder is more often than not limited to the sale/renewal, follow up and billing experience.”

Another threat to the traditional agent/policyholder relationship may be providers’ use of the Internet to sell auto insurance. While only 7 percent of consumers have used the Internet in the past during the auto insurance shopping/purchase process, 32 percent indicate they intend to do so in the future.

“Those companies that can provide the personalized services traditionally associated with agents while offering the flexibility of purchasing services over the Internet will be the most successful providers,” Forkin said.

USAA, an insurance provider open only to active and retired military personnel and their immediate families and therefore not included in the ranking, scored highest among of all companies included in the study.

The study is based on responses from more than 13,000 auto insurance policy holders who reside in the United States.

Headquartered in Agoura Hills, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services firm operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, consulting, training and customer satisfaction. The firm’s quality and satisfaction measurements are based on actual responses from millions of consumers annually. J.D. Power and Associates can be accessed through the Internet at www.jdpa.com.

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