Auto Insurance Customer Satisfaction Highest When Agents File Claims

October 31, 2016

Eight of 10 customers who purchased their auto insurance policy through a local agent still call their agent first to report or seek advice regarding a claim and customers whose agents file their claim are happier with their service than those who use a call center, according to the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study.

Among customers who call their agent first, 64 percent say their agent reported their claim, while 20 percent are transferred by their agent to a call center and 16 percent are otherwise redirected.

Overall customer satisfaction (on a 1,000-point scale) is 882 when the agent files the claim, but slips to 858 when the customer is transferred to a call center and falls even further to 824 when they are instructed to contact the call center, according to the J.D. Power study.

The authors say the preference for agent-directed claims is being reported at a time when some insurance carriers are reducing the role of agents in the claims process.

The offering of multiple communication options such as email, online and telephone during the claims process increases satisfaction overall, particularly among younger customers, according to the study. The study finds that the use of technology to check the status of a claim has increased year over year by five percentage points to 42 percent of claimants. Email and online updates have each increased by two percentage points from last year to 27 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

Human Interaction

But the authors contend that technology cannot fully replace humans during the claims process. The study finds that overall satisfaction is highest among customers who first contact their agent when filing a claim at 882, compared with 848 among those who file a claim directly through the website. In fact, only 7 percent of customers overall prefer to use digital channels (web or app) to report their claim.

Gen Y customers (born between 1977 and 1994) have the highest preference for digital channels to report a claim, but it’s only at 10 percent for them. Among generational groups, Gen Y customers (who are ages 22 to 39) are responsible for the biggest share of auto claims.

“While technology offers a customer more options, what we find is that even when customers file a digital claim they still want to talk with someone to get an explanation of the process, what to expect along the claims pathway and the timing,” said Mark Garrett, director of insurance industry analytics at J.D. Power. “Even the younger generations, which are most comfortable using digital channels, still want to talk with someone. We see the biggest gains in satisfaction when technology is used as a complementary channel for receiving status updates.”

J.D. Power defines generational groups as Pre-Boomers (born before 1946); Boomers (1946 -1964); Gen X (1965-1976); Gen Y (1977-1994); and Gen Z (1995-2004).

Gen Y is the largest generational group of auto insurance claimants at 40 percent of claims, up from 33 percent in 2015. Gen X remains stable at 20 percent, while the share of Boomers and Pre-Boomers is shrinking.

Gen Y Improving

Gen Y auto insurance customers’ satisfaction with the auto insurance process, while still the lowest among all generations, is improving and carrying the rest of the industry with it, according to the claims study.

Overall satisfaction among Gen Y averages 844 on a 1,000-point scale in 2016, up from 827 in 2015. The 17-point increase among Gen Y customers helps lift the overall industry average to 860, a modest three-point boost. Pre-Boomers have the highest satisfaction at 912, followed by Boomers at 878 and Gen X at 847. Gen X is the only generation to experience a decline in satisfaction from a year ago, dropping 8 points.

“Gen Y is a large and influential segment of the claims market, so it’s encouraging to see that insurance providers continue to focus on improving this generation’s satisfaction,” said Garrett.

Other Findings

The study measures customer satisfaction with their most recent automobile collision claim. Depending on the complexity of the claim, claimants may experience some or all of the following areas measured in the study: first notice of loss; service interaction; appraisal; repair process; rental experience; and settlement. Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale.

Other key findings of the study include:

  • ŸCosts of a Claim: Among the two-thirds of customers who have renewed their auto insurance policy since filing a claim, 28 percent say their insurance premiums have increased.
  • Ÿ Satisfaction Affects Customer Loyalty, Advocacy: Satisfaction with the claims experience affects customer retention and referrals. Among delighted claimants (overall satisfaction scores of 900 or higher), 84 percent say they “definitely will” renew their policy and 83 percent “definitely will” recommend their insurer. Among displeased claimants (scores of 549 and below), only 12 percent say they “definitely will” renew and 7 percent “definitely will” recommend their current insurer.
  • Top Ranked Insurers: The Hartford ranks highest in auto claims satisfaction with an index score of 891, a 21-point improvement from 2015. The Hartford performs particularly well in the first notice of loss and service interaction factors. Erie Insurance (886) ranks second, followed by Auto-Owners Insurance (885), American Family (874), Amica Mutual (874) and Nationwide (874).

The 2016 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 12,228 auto insurance customers who settled a claim within the past six months prior to taking the survey. The study excludes claimants whose vehicle incurred only glass/windshield damage or was stolen, or who only filed a roadside assistance claim. Survey data was collected from November 2015 through August 2016.

Source: J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study

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