Amica Mutual has stolen the show for a 12th consecutive year, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. National Auto Insurance Study.
The study measures customer satisfaction with auto insurance companies across five factors: interaction; price; policy offerings; billing and payment; and claims.
Amica Mutual gets the top spot with a score of 843. Erie Insurance (825) and Shelter (816) follow in the rankings. New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company and USAA also achieve high levels of customer satisfaction, although they are not included in the rankings due to the closed natures of their respective memberships.
Overall satisfaction averages 790, rebounding from 777 in 2010. This increase is the result of an improvement across all factors driving satisfaction, particularly the billing and payment and interaction factors, according to Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the insurance practice at Westlake Village, Calif.-based J.D. Power and Associates.
Satisfaction with price among auto-only insurance customers is now comparable to levels once reserved for customers who bundled auto and homeowners policies.
The study finds that satisfaction among auto insurance customers who have their homeowners policy with another insurer, or who only have an auto policy, has increased considerably from 2010 (up 21 and 26 index points, respectively, on a 1,000-point scale). In comparison, satisfaction among auto insurance customers who have their homeowners policy with the same insurer averages 727, increasing by only seven points from 2010.
For the first time, satisfaction with price is higher among unbundled customers than among bundled customers, Bowler says. "Customers have come to expect a discount for holding multiple policies with their insurer, and it appears that the positive effect of this discount has become diluted," he adds.
While only 58% of customers bundle their auto and homeowners policies with the same insurer, the bundling of any additional products with auto insurance has increased significantly in 2011 to 77% (compared with 70% in 2010). As a result, discounts for multiple policies are among the most prevalent discounts reported by customers, along with discounts for being a safe driver.
The interaction factor is the most important driver of satisfaction. More than 80% of customers who interact with their insurer through its Web site were able to complete their entire interaction online. Customers who purchase their policy through a call center representative tend to use the insurer's Web site as a complementary channel for service needs and interact with their insurer nearly as often through the call center as through the Web site.
Customers who use emerging technologies (such as email, online chat or smartphone apps) as complementary channels to their purchase channel are significantly more satisfied than are those using only their purchase channel to meet their service needs. This increase in satisfaction is more pronounced among agent-serviced customers who use these emerging technologies.
The 2011 U.S. National Auto Insurance Study is based on nearly 28,000 responses from auto insurance policyholders. The study was fielded between March and May 2011.