— Most Customers Rely on Agent’s Expertise —
Customer satisfaction with homeowners insurance remains stable despite a sharp hike in premiums, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2003 Homeowners Insurance Study.
More than 40 percent of homeowners report a high level of satisfaction with their homeowners insurance, similar to the level in 2002, despite average annual premium increases of nearly 14 percent in the past year. The average annual homeowners insurance premium is $580, up from $500 in 2002 and $452 in 2001.
“The cost of insurance is certainly a factor in influencing customer satisfaction, but homeowners are more concerned with the reliability of their provider, the ease of working with their provider and the claims handling process,” said Jeremy Bowler, director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “For the majority of consumers, homeowners insurance premiums are rolled into their mortgage, so they may not be as aware of rate increases as they would be if they had to write a separate check each month.”
In fact, 21 percent of survey respondents indicate that they don’t even know which type of coverage they have for their home and personal property. More than 70 percent of respondents indicate that they relied on the expertise of their agent to select the best policy for their needs.
“Many consumers may not be aware of, or know the difference between the options for guaranteed replacement, replacement cost and actual cash value,” Bowler said. “This indicates the importance most consumers place on their agent or representative. In an age when consumers can shop online and get price quotes over the Internet, they still want an agent they know and trust, and who, in turn, knows them.”
Among providers, Amica Mutual ranks highest in overall homeowners insurance customer satisfaction for a second consecutive year.
Erie Insurance Group and State Farm follow Amica in customer satisfaction, respectively. USAA, an insurance provider open only to the U.S. military community and their families and therefore not included in the rankings, achieves a satisfaction ranking above Amica.
Among insurance providers included in the rankings, Amica achieves the top score in each of the seven drivers of overall satisfaction (in order of importance): reliability, ease of working with provider, policy offerings, pricing, claims, billing and personnel.
“Amica has built upon their benchmark claims handling process from last year, improving on almost every aspect of the process,” Bowler said. “A key to Amica’s strength is keeping their customers informed during each step of the claims process.”
The 2003 Homeowners Insurance Study is based on 12,672 responses from homeowners insurance policyholders who reside in the United States. A more comprehensive listing of the results by insurance provider is available online at the J.D. Power Consumer Center.
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