In a study released yesterday by J.D. Powers and Associates, claim handling is listed as one of the major behaviors exhibited by insurers that directly impacts customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The report, called the 2006 National Auto Insurance study, said that for customers who file a physical damage claim with their auto insurer, time is one of the most important qualities. The study recommended a same-day response to the first notice of the accident, followed by a settlement within a week and repairs completed within two weeks as the standard by which all insurers should be measured. Why? Satisfaction with claim handling drives 44 percent of the overall impression of their insurer for customers who filed a recent auto claim.

The study also identifies and tracks performance on numerous specific, measurable behaviors on the part of the insurer in regards to customer satisfaction levels. For example, auto insurance customers are more satisfied when they only have to contact their insurer once to resolve an issue; satisfaction declines significantly with each additional contact. Customers who had their calls resolved on the same day recorded average satisfaction scores of 862 on a 1,000-point scale. That drops to 816 among those who had to wait one to three days for their issue to be resolved and to 727 for those who had to wait four or more days. When a call back is required, those who receive a call back when promised rate their insurer 135 points higher than those who do not.

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