Winning the Game

By Andrea Wells | April 15, 2013

The insurance industry is winning the game — at least when it comes to homeowners claims. Overall customer satisfaction with the property claims experience remains high, according to J.D. Power and Associates’ 2013 Property Claims Satisfaction Study.

The study found that homeowners insurers continue to get high marks for claims handling despite facing two of the heaviest years — 2011 and 2012 — for claims. Overall satisfaction in the 2013 study is 832 (on a 1,000-point scale), increasing from 823 in 2011 and 818 in 2010.

For the about 8 percent of homeowners in the United States filing a property claim this year, the average settlement amount is $8,517, up from $7,937 in 2012. While the amount of the settlement to cover contents increased by nearly $250 year-over-year, the amount to cover the cost of repairs increased to $7,844 in 2013 from $7,151 in 2012. The average out-of-pocket expenses paid by homeowners nearly doubled to $3,888 in 2013 from $1,945 in 2012.

The most frequent reasons for filing a claim are tornado/hurricane (33 percent); hail (22 percent); and water damage not caused by weather (14 percent).

Insurers must fully train call center reps to provide the claims experience their customers have come to expect.

The study measured satisfaction with the property claims experience among customers who filed a homeowners claim by examining: settlement; first notice of loss; estimation process; service interaction; and repair process.

“Despite increases in both the frequency and average severity of property damage in the United States during the past two years, the fact that customer satisfaction remains high is a testament to how diligently the personal insurance industry has responded to its customers,” said Jeremy Bowler, senior insurance practice director at J.D. Power and Associates.

However, satisfaction with the service interaction process declined by nine points in 2013, compared with 2012. Much of the drop likely is due to homeowners filing claims via direct channels — typically online or by calling a call center — rather than through an agent, according to researchers.

The study found 68 percent of customers file their recent homeowners claims through direct channels, up from 57 percent in 2012. Satisfaction is 50 points higher among customers who file a claim through their agent than among those who file a claim through direct channels.

“For the industry average, the call center experience fails to deliver the same level of service as an agent,” Bowler said.

Among customers surveyed in 2013, 72 percent who filed with an agent say their agent helped put them at ease; 56 percent who filed direct say their call center rep did the same.

“The key for insurance companies is to ensure their call center representatives are fully trained to provide the claims experience their customers have come to expect,” Bowler said.

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