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Amica, State Farm and Shelter top car insurance company satisfaction rankings

When you have a claim on your car insurance, you demand a certain level of service from your car insurance company. Along with price, people care most about how their insurance company handles claims, customer interaction, policy sales and billing and payment methods, according to the J.D. Power and Associates "2009 Auto Claims Satisfaction Study."

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Car insurance companies:
Favorites of customers
Rank Company Score
1 Amica Mutual 851
2 State Farm 831
3 Shelter 828
4 Auto-Owners 825
5 Erie Insurance 823
6 COUNTRY Financial 816
7 Automobile Club of Southern California 813
8 American National Property & Casualty 812
9 GEICO 806
10 American Family 802
11

Alfa

Grange

801
Industry average 801
12 The Hartford 800
13 Farmers Insurance 797
14 Progressive 796
15

Allstate

Nationwide

794
16

Ameriprise

California State Automobile Association

793
17 Liberty Mutual 790
18 MetLife 788
19

Automobile Club Group

Encompass

The Hanover

783
20

Esurance

Safeco

776
21 Mercury 771
22 Travelers 770
23 Commerce 766
24 21st Century 762
25 GMAC 751
26 AIG 719
not
ranked
USAA 900
not
ranked
New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co. 869
Source: J.D. Power and Associates 2009 National Auto Insurance Study

The study, based on 22,930 responses from car insurance customers, rated 32 insurance companies in the satisfaction department. Leading the pack is Amica Mutual followed closely by State Farm, Shelter, Auto-Owners and Erie Insurance. New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co. and USAA also achieved high levels of customer satisfaction but were not ranked because their membership is limited.

A 1,000 point-scale was used to rank the companies. The industry average for satisfaction is 801 (see rankings at right).

J.D. Power and Associates, which conducts a satisfaction study annually, also found that overall customer satisfaction with car insurance companies increased significantly in 2009 — driven primarily by low premiums. According to the study, customer satisfaction has reached a five-year high and 42 percent of those surveyed stated that their premiums decreased this year (without them switching to another insurer).

However, the study predicts that there may be a decline in customer satisfaction in 2010 and 2011 because prices are likely to increase. According to the study, historical data indicates that after the 2001-2002 recession period, overall customer satisfaction with car insurance companies decreased as prices increased.

"If history repeats itself, one could anticipate a notable decline in overall customer satisfaction as a result," said Jeremy Bowler, senior director of insurance practices at J.D. Power and Associates, in a written statement. "However, such upheaval in the marketplace creates opportunities for insurers to differentiate themselves and gain a competitive advantage. Most notable, companies that compete less on price and more on quality of services or through affinity relationships may be able to mitigate some of the expected decline in satisfaction."

The study encourages insurers to increase customer satisfaction through communication. It recommends notifying customers in advance of any rate increases greater than $100 and offering to discuss other options to the price change.

In other areas, the study found that customer satisfaction with car insurers' Web sites and call centers has improved compared to last year and that agency insurers interact better with their clients than direct insurers.

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