Small businesses rely on independent agents and brokers who actas risk advisors and have a deep understanding of theirbusinesses—and rank insurers on the breadth and quality of theirpolicy offerings, according to the J.D. Power 2013 U.S. SmallBusiness Commercial Insurance Study.


Based on responses from nearly 4,000 insurance decision makersat small companies (those with fewer than 50 employees), theinaugural study examines overall customer satisfaction, insuranceshopping and purchase behavior among these buyers.


Overall satisfaction with the insurance-buying experience wasbased on five factors (in order of importance): interaction, policyofferings, price, billing and payment, and claims.


Key findings include:

  • On a 1,000-point scale, overall small-business customersatisfaction is 777, which increased to 835 when an agent or brokerunderstands their business and provides guidance regardingrisk.

  • Policy offerings, not price, determine how small businessesselect an insurer.

  • Buyers who stay with their insurer for more than two years basetheir decision on the level of service.

  • Buyers were most satisfied with their agent interaction whencommunication was in person (854), compared with 819 whencommunication was via e-mail.

  • Customer satisfaction was highest among small businesses with 11to 50 employees, with higher scores influenced by agents andbrokers spending more time in person with these key accounts.


On the insurer side, policy offerings are the most importantdriver of customer retention, especially for small businesses with11 to 50 employees. The higher the employee count, the moreimportant product selection becomes. Nearly two-thirds (62%) ofsmall businesses with 11 to 50 employees indicate policy offeringsare a leading reason for retaining business with their insurer,compared with 50% of businesses with fewer than five employees.


Respondents also ranked individual insurers on interaction,policy offerings, price, billing and payment, and claims. ErieInsurance ranked highest among small business commercial insurers,with a score of 808. Erie performs particularly well in theinteraction and policy offerings factors.


American Family and Nationwide tie for second overall at 794each. American Family performs particularly well in price, whileNationwide performs well in billing and payment. Included in thestudy, but not ranked due to small sample size, are CincinnatiInsurance and Philadelphia Insurance Co.

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