Customers were slightly more satisfied with health, property and life insurance in the third quarter of 2013 than they were a year earlier, according to a new report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index, headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Customer satisfaction with health insurance came in at 73 on a 100-point scale, still relatively low compared to other financial services, but up 1.4 percent over the third quarter of 2012.
"The health insurance industry is in a state of flux as many parts of the Affordable Care Act come into effect, including insurance exchanges, which allow consumers to comparison shop for health care coverage," David VanAmburg, ACSI's director said in a press statement. "The customer satisfaction gains this year may be driven in part by expected price competition as health insurance companies anticipate the effects of the new online marketplace."
Most health insurance companies score close to the industry average. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association leads with an ACSI score of 74, while WellPoint matches the industry average of 73. The aggregate of smaller insurers such as Cigna and Humana remains just below average at 72. UnitedHealth is at 70, while Aetna is at the bottom at 69 despite a 3 percent gain, according to ACSI.
Meanwhile, customer satisfaction improved for both life and property and casualty insurance. Satisfaction with life insurance rose 2.5 percent to 83, and customer satisfaction with property and casualty insurance increased 3.8 percent to 81. Customers were more satisfied with auto insurance, which had a score of 79, than homeowners insurance, which came in at 76, although customers with multiple policies from the same insurer were the most satisfied with a score of 80.
The increase in customer satisfaction for property and casualty was the result of big gains for smaller insurance carriers, including AAA and Nationwide, which rose 8 percent to 83. Among the largest property and casualty insurers, Geico was the only company to improve, rising 3 percent to 81, taking the top spot from State Farm, which fell 2 percent to 79. Progressive fell 4 percent to 78, Allstate fell 3 percent to 77, and Farmers dropped 4 percent to 76.
Smaller life insurance carriers also tend to score higher on customer satisfaction than big companies. Smaller firms, such as John Hancock and Lincoln Financial, were up 2 percent for an 83 aggregate score. New York Life led large firms with a score of 80.
Property and life insurance policyholders gave insurers high marks for their customer service and the variety of coverage options offered, but they found the availability of meaningful policy discounts and rewards lacking, the ACSI report said.