CUSTOMER SERVICE: Claims satisfaction levels dip – and so does insurance shopping

Customer satisfaction with the auto insurance claims experience has fallen 13 points to 842 (on a 1,000-point scale), its lowest level in nine months, according to J.D. Power and Associates. The finding is based on interviews in January and February of this year with 3,700 drivers who filed a claim within the previous six months.

Satisfaction with the repair process portion of the claim fell 15 points. But the findings found that although customers were less pleased with the amount of time it took to get their vehicles back, nearly half acknowledged they delayed dropping off their vehicle at a shop to wait for a more convenient time.

“Many times the car is still drivable, so they wait,” Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power, said. “The problem is that skews how long it takes to get their car back from the point at which they report damage.”

J.D. Power also reported in late April that only 25 percent of insurance customers said that they’d shopped for a new insurer in the past 12 months, down eight percentage points from 2011. But 43 percent of those who shopped said they switched, the highest percent since the J.D. Power started measuring auto insurer retention in 2008.

“Although fewer consumers are shopping for insurance, more current customers who do are willing to make a switch based on competitive quotes,” Bowler said.

Bowler noted that the customer-retention rates are increasing at a time when auto insurers are spending more money to encourage switching. He notes that advertising expenditures increased 12 percent in 2011 compared to 2010.

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