NYSID Publishes Annual Ranking of Automobile Insurance Complaints

December 31, 2003

The New York State Insurance Department has published its annual compilation of the state’s 50 largest automobile insurance companies or groups of companies based on the record of complaints in 2002

The NYSID explained that, “Each company or group is ranked by its complaint ratio. A complaint ratio is the number of private passenger automobile insurance complaints upheld against an insurer as a percentage of that insurer’s average New York State private passenger automobile insurance premium. An upheld complaint occurs when the Department agrees with a consumer that an auto insurer made an inappropriate decision. The report ranks insurers from best (lowest complaint ratio) to worst (highest complaint ratio).”

It also noted that statistics are compiled only from those complaints that reach the Department and do not include complaints by policyholders directly to their carriers.

The report noted that “the average complaint ratio for all auto insurers, including those with less than $10 million in premium, was 0.49 per $1 million in premium in 2002. The ratio is derived by dividing the number of complaints upheld against all companies in 2002 (4,614) by the average 2001-2002 premium for all companies ($9,464.5 million).”

Two relatively small carriers, Atlantic Companies and Electric Insurance Company, posted no upheld complaints in 2002 for the second consecutive year. Each company wrote less than $20 million in average annual premium for 2001-2002. This is the second consecutive year that Atlantic Companies posted no upheld complaints. Amica Mutual Insurance Company, a perennial top ten finisher, ranked third in the 2002 ranking with one upheld complaint.

“None of the three largest New York State auto insurers — Allstate, State Farm, or GEICO — registered complaint ratios higher than the overall average,” said the report. “State Farm, Travelers and Progressive all finished among the top 25 insurers in the ranking, while GEICO and Allstate were ranked in the bottom half of the 50 ranked insurers included in the report.”

It also noted that “Of the five largest New York auto insurers, only Progressive showed a year-to-year decrease in the number of upheld complaints, dropping from 139 in 2001 to 110 in 2002. Since most insurers posted year-to-year increases in complaints in 2002, Progressive rose from 34th in the 2001 ranking to 22nd in 2002.” Allstate also rose 39th among all New York insurers, “a slight improvement over its 40th-place finish in 2001.”

However, the report noted that “After four consecutive years of improvements in its standing, New York’s second-largest writer, State Farm, slipped from 11th in 2001 to 19th in the current ranking, finishing just behind 18th-place Travelers. Travelers had finished 18th in 2000, improved to 13th in 2001, and slipped back to 18th in the 2002 ranking. It should be noted that Citigroup began to spin-off Travelers property/casualty companies early in 2002.”

Of the largest companies, the top 10 were ranked as follows:
Company—– Complaint ratio
Allstate —————— 0.49
State Farm ————— 0.19
Travelers —————– 0.18
Progressive ————– 0.20
Liberty Mutual ———— 0.31
Nationwide ————– 0.20
AIG ———————- 0.66
White Mountains ——— 0.18
New York Central Mutual — 0.09

The full report is available in the NYSID’s Web site at: http://www.ins.state.ny.us

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