From the January 10, 2011 issue of National Underwriter Property & Casualty • Subscribe!

NU Readers Have Their Say

While property and casualty industry market conditions, the weak economy, catastrophic events and Congressional reforms were among the most frequent topics NU reporters wrote about last year, the article that clearly stood out for our readers in 2010 dealt with insurance agency service issues.

The two listings that accompany this article provide the titles of the 100 most-read articles we posted on our website last year. Since the articles in our print magazine also appeared on our website along with those articles written exclusively for our Online News Service, an analysis of online readers' click statistics gave us insights into what news events captured your attention. (NU's Most-Read Articles Of 2010: 1-50, 51-100.)

Topping the list, an article titled "Agents Provide Little Joy, Customer Survey Finds" was the most popular by a wide margin. In fact, the article was read three-times as often as the average article among the remaining 99 titles.

In our final sendoff to 2010, we'll take a walk down memory lane, summarizing the content of that particular article and a few more of the unique titles among the top 10--articles that didn't pertain to any of the topics our editors selected as the Top 10 stories of the year in our final edition last year.

#1: Agents Provide Little Joy, Customer Survey Finds

The February 24, 2010 article detailed the results of a customer experience index of various U.S. industries compiled by Forrester Research.

"A survey of U.S. consumers' experience with a variety of professions finds they rate their interactions with independent insurance agents as less than enjoyable," NU's lead paragraph said, referring to the fact that when Forrester's online survey asked consumers to rate companies on three areas: "meets needs," "easy to work with" and "enjoyable," respondents rated independent agents "poor" when it came to being "enjoyable."

The good news of the survey was that agents were given "good" ratings for "meets needs" and "easy to work with" categories.

In a broader assessment, insurance agents received an overall score of "okay" from the more than 4,600 consumers who said they had interaction with a variety of companies, our article reported.

Carrier ratings were also detailed in the article, with USAA topping the list in terms of overall score of being "enjoyable," and Liberty Mutual besting the competition in terms of "meeting needs" and being "easy to work with."

Our readers not only read this article more times than any other we published in 2010, but several were moved to comment on it as well. One reader hypothesized that the economic woes had spurred a level of anger among customers, and another suggested that most consumers don't know what their policies cover and become disappointed when coverage doesn't meet their unrealistic expectations.

"It's our job to share our knowledge and experience with each customer, regardless of how long that takes," another advised in a comment posted to the article.

#3: Researchers: Next Big California Earthquake Could Happen Soon

An Aug. 23, 2010 article did not describe one of the many actual natural catastrophes that occurred in 2010 but warned of a potential one instead.

"The San Andreas fault has rumbled much more frequently over the last 700 years than commonly believed, and the next major earthquake could happen soon," we reported, citing researchers at the University of California-Irvine.

UC Irvine and Arizona State University researchers charted earthquakes going back 700 years and found quakes have occurred on one portion of the fault--the Carrizo Plain--every 45 to 144 years, which is much more frequent than the widely accepted belief that an earthquake occurs every 250 to 400 years, the article noted.

"If you're waiting for someone to tell you when we're close to the next San Andreas earthquake, just look at the data," warned UC Irvine seismologist Lisa Grant Ludwig.

#9: Job Researchers Put Actuary As The Best Occupation

In this Jan. 6, 2010 article, we reported on the rankings of insurance professionals published by an outfit that reviewed all kinds of careers, finding that insurance actuaries had the best jobs last year, while insurance agents came in at No. 103. put out the annual list, rating occupations based on hiring outlook, work environment and other factors. According to the NU article, the researchers find careers likely to provide a positive experience for "a majority of employees, not just the uniquely talented," in order to establish the rankings.

The NU article said actuaries were found to have a very good hiring outlook, and also ranked highly because their jobs had the second lowest physical demands and third lowest stress levels.

While said agents (#103) and underwriters (ranked #39) slipped in the 2010 rankings, Laura Toops, editor of our sister publication American Agent & Broker, was having none of it.

"With all due respect, I think the researchers at must be, as the Brits say, 'having us on,' she wrote in a Jan. 5, 2010 blog entry titled "At Least You're Not A Roustabout, referring to oil rig workers in the worst job category.

"'Insurance agent' came in...right between 'telephone installer/repairer' and 'artist (fine art).' While the job of insurance agent might well include elements of both those jobs, I find it hard to believe that the job outlook for insurance agents is only one step above that of an aspiring paint-flinger," she wrote.

Related Charts:

NU's Most-Read Stories Of 2010 (1-50)

NU's Most-Read Stories Of 2010 (51-100)

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