Of the 23 percent of auto insurance customers who shopped for a new insurer in the last year, 45 percent ultimately switched to a new company, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2013 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study.
That's the highest rate since the study began measuring customer retention in 2008. The switching rate has steadily increased from a low of 33 percent in 2010.
Meanwhile the portion of car insurance customers who shop in the first place has decreased from a high of 33 percent in 2011. The decline in shopping comes at a time when customer satisfaction with auto insurance companies is at a high. A J.D. Powers' 2012 study measured overall customers satisfaction at 804 on a 1,000-point scale.
"Unlike many other industries we measure, policy retention rates for personal auto insurance in the U.S. market average 90 percent," Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the global insurance practice at J.D. Power and Associates, said in a press statement. "With customer satisfaction generally high and climbing, this industry has witnessed fewer customers shopping, but those who are shopping are serious about switching insurers."
The 2013 shopping study found that customer satisfaction with the purchase experience averaged 828 for the third consecutive year.
Erie Insurance ranked No. 1 among auto insurers in providing a satisfying purchase experience with a score of 854 out of 1,000. Rounding out the five highest-ranked insurers were Ameriprise (846); Amica Mutual and Liberty Mutual in a tie (845 each); and State Farm (843).
The study, fielded in January this year, is based on responses from more than 16,900 shoppers who requested an auto insurance price quote from at least one competitive insurer in the past 12 months and includes more than 50,000 unique insurer evaluations.