Study Reveals Communication Key in Collision Repair Process

December 27, 2005

J.D. Powers and Associates has ranked Erie Insurance highest in customer satisfaction with the collision repair process for a second year in a row.
Maintaining a comprehensive and consistent dialog with the consumer throughout the claims process is critical for insurance providers in achieving customer satisfaction with the collision repair process. The results were released by J.D. Power and Associates recently when it announced the 2005 Collision Repair Satisfaction Study.
Insurance carriers that meet customer expectations through effective communication generally achieve higher levels of overall satisfaction, according to the study. For example, customers who were given an explanation of the parts to be used in their vehicle repair were considerably more satisfied than customers who were not informed. More than 75 percent of customers indicated they were informed or engaged in such discussions, according to this year’s study.
Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the insurance practice for J.D. Power and Associates said that the study revealed that basic communication between the insurance company and the customer regarding what will be done to repair their vehicle, parts types the body shop is going to use, and how long repairs will take goes a long way to increase customer satisfaction.

The study measures customer satisfaction with their repair experience by examining three factors: body shop; claims/estimation; and rental car.

For a second consecutive year, Erie Insurance ranks highest in collision repair satisfaction with an index score of 852. Erie receives particularly high ratings from customers for the repair facility. Following Erie in the rankings are AAA Michigan Auto Club Group (ACG) with a score of 832, and State Farm with a score of 826 — an improvement of 8 index points from 2004. USAA, an insurance provider open only to the U.S. military community and their families and therefore not included in the rankings, achieves a satisfaction score higher than Erie Insurance.

The study finds that although the number of auto insurance claims is on the decline, the average cost to repair an individual vehicle has been increasing.

One concern mentioned in the study is that rising repair costs have increased the likelihood that damages exceed the vehicle’s market value, causing an insurance carrier to total the vehicle rather than repair it. However, claims settlement satisfaction is considerably lower among customers who have had their vehicles totaled, often because they owe more on their vehicle loan than the settlement amount.

The 2005 Collision Repair Satisfaction Study is based on 5,679 responses from consumers who had collision repair or body work performed on their vehicles in the past 12 months. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

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