Best insurance companies: 2013 customer satisfaction report
USAA, American General and Kaiser Permanente earned the highest scores from customers in their respective categories in Insure.com’s annual customer satisfaction study.
Use the tool at the right to access complete scores and rankings.
Overall satisfaction with insurers’ customer service went up for everyone except auto insurers, where satisfaction levels held steady. And while satisfaction with life insurers went up, they still dropped below health insurers this year for customer service satisfaction.
We asked more than 5,600 insurance customers nationwide to rate their satisfaction with their auto, home, health and life insurance companies. We collected ratings for 20 large companies for four types of insurance. Use the tool at the right find detailed customer satisfaction scores.
Here are percentages of customers saying they are “completely” or “somewhat” satisfied with their insurers’ customer service:
- Auto insurance customers: 80 percent (2012 results: 80 percent).
- Home insurance customers: 76 percent (2012 results: 73 percent).
- Life insurance customers: 67 percent (2012 results: 63 percent).
- Health insurance customers: 71 percent (2012 results: 61 percent).
Winners of Insure.com's 2013 People's Choice Award
(Overall scores out of 100)
|Complete car insurance rankings|
|Complete home insurance rankings|
|Complete life insurance rankings|
|BCBS of Illinois||83.3|
|Complete health insurance rankings|
For overall scores, companies were judged on five measurements:
- Customer service
- Claims satisfaction
- Value for price paid
- Percent who plan to renew
- Percent who would recommend the company
(Life insurance scores did not include claims or renewal questions.)
Auto insurance winners
Among auto insurers, USAA, Erie Insurance and Auto-Owners Insurance scored the highest and earn Insure.com’s “People’s Choice Award 2013.”
USAA, which sells only to members of the military and their families, had a resounding victory, scoring five stars for customer service and claims in both the auto and home insurance categories – the only company to do so.
Home insurance winners
Home insurance customers gave the highest scores to USAA, Amica Mutual and Country Insurance. All three were propelled to the top with the help of five-star ratings for claims satisfaction. Amica stumbled slightly on price satisfaction but was able to gain a footing to No. 2 with strong scores in the other measurements.
Life insurance winners
American General, Jackson National and Allstate went to head to head for the best life insurance scores, but ultimately American General edged out its competition due to the high percentage of its customers who say they would recommend the company.
Health insurance winners
Among heath insurers, Kaiser Permanente and BCBS of Illinois were able to snag the top two spots thanks for strong showings for claims satisfaction and renewal scores. Humana earns a People’s Choice Award at No. 3 with the help of high scores for renewal.
The moment of truth
Ken Rosen, senior vice president of claims for USAA, which ranks No. 1 for both auto and home insurers, says “the secret sauce is an engaged workforce.” He says USAA employees are singularly focused on facilitating the financial success of the company’s military members.
Rosen says insurers are judged on “that moment of truth,” when the customer has had a car wreck or house damage.
“When you talk about the mission of USAA, it resonates with everyone” in the company, says Rosen. “Everything is focused on the members.”
All levels of employees at USAA are encouraged to speak up when they spot a problem and to submit ideas for improvement. For example, an employee originally suggested an accident-animation function for USAA’s mobile app. It’s now part of the app and allows members to reconstruct an accident in animation and submit it with their claims.
USAA also conducts random surveys of members after they have been on a call with a representative and after they’ve had a claim. The insurer also conducts customer focus groups to get feedback on possible new products.
Monitoring and tweaking
American General, ranked No. 1 among life insurance companies, also relies on its staff to follow through on superior customer service. Stephen Kennedy, senior vice president of producer services, says, “We spend the time understanding why customers call and then ensuring we have the right people available to assist them.”
American General home office staff are trained to “take ownership, be responsive and proactive, be nice (but firm when necessary) and follow through,” says Kennedy.
The insurer utilizes surveys, real-time monitoring of customer feedback, call observation and random call backs in order to monitor and tweak its processes and training.
The price shopper
Price was cited by 42 percent survey respondents as the No. 1 most important factor in auto insurance-buying decisions; 21 percent think customer service is the most important factor. Satisfaction with claims, often a pain point, came in as third most important, with 15 percent. Knowing how many customers would recommend the company or renew their policies was chosen as most important by 11 percent each.
Among customers who say they won’t be renewing their auto or home insurance policies with their current company, price was the No. 1 reason.
Among people who say they won’t renew with their current car insurance company:
- 62 percent think their price is too high.
- 12 percent think other companies are better.
- 10 percent cite poor customer service.
- 9 percent have “other” reasons.
- 8 percent point to dissatisfaction with claims.
In terms of actual satisfaction, however, shopping by price doesn’t lead to the happiest customers. Among people who use the auto insurer their parents had, 57 percent gave a 5-star rating for customer service. Among other types of insurance:
- Customers who chose a home insurance company based on reputation were most likely (57 percent) to give 5 stars.
- Among life insurance customers, those most likely to give 5 stars (48 percent) chose their company based on a TV commercial.
- Among health insurance customers, those most satisfied were those who picked based on company reputation or a recommendation from a friend (46 percent each giving 5 stars). The least satisfied were those who have a health plan chosen by their employer.
The fine print
You’d be hard-pressed to find an insurance expert who doesn’t recommend that you read and understand your insurance policies. Yet our 2013 survey suggests that ignorance is bliss.
Among consumers who made car insurance claims in the last three years and say they haven’t read any of their auto policy, 61 percent were nonetheless “completely satisfied” with the claims process. That’s not too far apart from policyholders who made claims and also say they’ve read all of their auto policy – 69 percent were “completely satisfied” with their claims.
O, help me
We also asked people who they would most want as their insurance agent from a celebrity list. Oprah Winfrey slightly edged out Donald Trump, suggesting most consumers either hope for an “ah ha!’ moment with their insurance policies or want a pit bull to find them the best prices. Very few wanted Kim Kardashian trying to explain their insurance policies.
- Oprah Winfrey: 33 percent.
- Donald Trump: 31 percent.
- Barbara Walters: 17 percent.
- Al Roker: 15 percent
- Kim Kardashian: 5 percent.
More from Amy Danise here