Editor's note: This article first appeared onCarInsurance.com and is reprinted here with their permission.Click here for the original post.

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Erie Insurancepolicyholders are the happiest with their car insurance buyingexperience, according to a new J.D. Power shopperstudy.

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Erie Insurance outscored its competitors to win the top spot forproviding a satisfying car insurance purchase experience for thethird year in a row. Ameriprise and The Hartford tied for second,CSAA Insurance group came in fourth and Amica Mutual rounded outthe top five. Here are the complete rankings:

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J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking

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family shopping for car insurance on laptop

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(Photo: Shutterstock)

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Rate increases have people shopping around

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Average car insurance rates are increasingand while many drivers are shopping for new coverage, most aresticking with their current car insurance company.

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The J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study reports thatauto insurance rates jumped an average of 2.1% in 2014. This was ontop of an increase of 2.5% in 2013.

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Two years of increases has led some drivers to start shoppingtheir coverage, yet insurer close rates -- the industry term forconverting a potential client to a new policyholder -- dropped to13% from 18% in the 2014 report.

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Nearly 40% of those surveyed shopped their coverage in 2014.This was an increase of 7% over the previous year. Despite lookingaround, fewer drivers actually switched, with 29% who shoppedsigning up with a new insurer. This is a significant drop from the37% of shoppers who jumped ship in 2013.

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Customers not switching insurers unless they will savemoney

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Why are they staying? Valerie Monet, director of the insurancepractice at J.D. Power, has a theory.

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"Customers are being pushed into the market due to rateincreases, but unless they can find a policy that will save themmoney, they're not switching providers," said Monet in a pressrelease. "In fact, many of those customers can't find a better dealand ultimately don't switch insurers."

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Of the shoppers in the study, 29% actually found a better deal,which is 12 percentage points lower than the 2014 report's figure,while 53% stayed with their current insurer because they offeredthe best price.

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man showing thumbs up and customer satisfaction sign

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(Photo: Shutterstock)

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Better deals make you happier

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Drivers who managed to find cheaper car insurance rates reportedhigher satisfaction levels with their insurance. According to thestudy, satisfaction with the purchase experience jumped 12 pointsover last year, to 833 on a 1,000-point scale.

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Switching also lifted consumer satisfaction with regard toprice. This factor climbed 13 points among those that switchedinsurers.

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"Customers who shop and do find a better deal will likely switchinsurers, and increasing satisfaction scores among customers whorecently switched suggests that those customers are pleased withthe price they receive," Monet said.

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The average annual savings for switching companies was $388, upfrom $340 in 2014. Saving money contributed to consumer happinesswith satisfaction, with price ratings going up 25 points for every$50 in savings.

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Best deal

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(Photo: Shutterstock)

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Why it's important to compare car insurancecompanies

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Shopping your premium is the most effective way to ensure youare getting the best deal, as many factors can affect your premiumand rates for the same coverage can vary significantly amongdifferent insurers.

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This is because insurers rate risk differently and weigh factorsaccording to their own proprietary algorithms, says Penny Gusner,consumer analyst for Insure.com.

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"Car insurance quotes can vary greatly from one insurer to thenext because each has its own rating system," she says. "While carinsurers all look at the same risk factors, such as type of car,age, driving record and claim history, every car insurance companyhas their own way of calculating your rates."

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As an example, one insurer may forgive one minor speedingticket, while another tacks a 10% surcharge on your premium for it,says Gusner. Insurers also take their own claims experience intoaccount. If they have experienced a high number of claims for yourparticular vehicle, they will charge a higher rate for it, shesays.

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While the system may seem confusing, and even unfair in somecases, in the end it benefits consumers who shop around.

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"It's good that insurance companies vary a bit, that is whatallows consumers to get good deals on car insurance rates," saysGusner.

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friends discussing car insurance companies

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(Photo: Shutterstock)

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Tips for comparing car insurance companies

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How often should you shop your coverage?

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Recommendations vary. Gusner advises shopping your coverageevery renewal period or at least once a year but realizes that mostdrivers will probably not shop it that often.

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Loretta Worters, a spokeswoman for the Insurance InformationInstitute says it's a good idea to shop around every few years,"just to see how you're doing with price."

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While price is certainly an important factor, Monet said itshouldn't be the only consideration.

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Grass in not always greener

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"When looking exclusively at price, consumers may find the grassis not always greener," Monet said. "Many customers are obtainingquotes and gathering information on insurer websites or throughaggregators, but the day-to-day interactions they have with theirinsurer, especially if they have to file a claim, will be theultimate moment of truth for the customer."

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Worters says it's wise to choose a well-regarded insurer thatoffers great service from the start.

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"Look for a company that has a reputation for handling claimsfairly and efficiently. Select an agent or company representativethat takes the time to answer your questions," she says. "Remember,you'll be dealing with this company if you have an accident orother emergency."

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Additional information

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Estimating car insurance rates: What you need toknow

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How much car insurance should you buy?

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Compare average car insurance rates by state andZIP code

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