Fewer storms in 2014 allowed insurers to apply the lessons learned in previous major catastrophes to their non-catastrophe claims, and the results are paying off, according to the J.D. Power 2015 Property Claims Satisfaction Study. The increased focus allowed insurers to raise property claims satisfaction by 11 points (on a 1,000-point scale) from 840 in 2014 to 851 in 2015.
“The study shows the significant gains insurers have made in customer satisfaction by applying the lessons learned while handling prior catastrophic losses to all claim processes,” said Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power in a statement. “The big storms masked the steady progress the industry has also been making in recent years on routine claims, but we’re really seeing that shine now.”
Higher satisfaction numbers have a strong impact on customer loyalty and policy renewals. According to the study only 3% of the delighted customers (scores of 900 or higher) and 7% of those who were pleased (scores of 750–899) changed carriers after their claims were closed. By comparison, 9% of insureds who were indifferent (scores of 550–749) and 11% of those who were displeased (scores of 549 or lower) chose another insurer; 23% of the indifferent customers and 42% of the displeased customers plan to shop for a new provider in the coming year.
Insurance agents as primary contacts
Settlement and service interaction saw the greatest improvements over the previous year. Who interacts with the customer has a tremendous impact on satisfaction as well. The study found that satisfaction is definitely higher (865) when the insurance agent is the primary contact throughout the claims process as compared to when the claims professional is the primary contact (793). Insurance agents are playing a much more active role in the claims process as 24% of customers said their agent was the primary contact, up from 18% in 2014. Fewer claims professionals are serving as the primary contact, a trend reflected in the study as the number of customers who said they worked predominately with the claims professional dropped from 9% to 7%.
Age has some impact on how customers view their interactions with insurers. Pre-boomers (those born before 1946) and boomers (1946–1964) had the highest satisfaction ratings at 880 and 850 respectively. Satisfaction was slightly lower among Gen Y (1977–1994) and Gen X (1965–1976) customers with ratings of 839 and 849 respectively.
The report also said that 90% of customers it defined as “full-service advice seekers who value a personal relationship with their agent” were likely to contact the agent at first notice of loss and 71% received any updates by phone. Their satisfaction ratings were 849. Customers who prefer to interact digitally with insurers by filing claims online and getting updates through the website or via emails or texts had slightly higher satisfaction scores at 853.
Highest rated companies
The study also highlighted the companies with the highest customer satisfaction ratings. Amica Mutual held onto the top spot for the fourth year in a row with a score of 888, followed by Nationwide at 886, and COUNTRY at 881. Erie Insurance with a score of 874 and Chubb at 872 rounded out the top five insurers. USAA, which provides insurance only to U.S. military personnel and their families, continued to maintain its high levels of satisfaction with a score of 895.
The study is based on information supplied by more than 6,100 residential insurance consumers who filed a property claim from January 2013 through December 2014.