International research and consulting firm, the Customer Respect Group, recently released the results of their second quarter 2007 Online Customer Respect Study of the Automobile Insurance Industry.

The group evaluates how corporations treat their online customers and offer products and services that help companies improve customer relations through their websites.

According to the firm, the study examined websites of a representative sample of auto insurance companies and is the only direct analysis of corporate performance from an online customer’s perspective. Each company received a Customer Respect Index that rated three areas of the customer’s online experience: ease of use, communication, and privacy and trust.

On the 10-point CRI scale, the industry achieved an average rating of 5.4, an improvement since the previous report. The auto insurance industry has moved up to the middle from the bottom rankings of the industries and is making significant improvements in customer service and accessibility by making more information available through their websites.

In general, site usability was the deficient component in the study, but Erie and Progressive were found to rank high in usability, while USAA provided the best support.

Leading the industry for clarity and openness with personal information were Allstate and Nationwide, whereas best policies for customers were from Liberty Mutual and AIG Direct.

Geico and Progressive led in the study, with American Family showing the most improvement since the last study. Auto insurance companies were quick to reply to customer e-mails, according to the findings, but need to explain their use of personal information supplied online more thoroughly.

A full scorecard from the Customer Respect Group is available at .

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