Report: Managing Expectations, Communication Key to ‘Delighting’ Auto Insurance Claimants

November 3, 2008

Managing expectations, showing empathy, ensuring convenient service and effective communication are key themes in enhancing overall insurance customer satisfaction with the claims process, according to the J.D. Power and Associates’ “2008 Auto Claims Satisfaction Study.”

The study measures the experiences of auto physical damage claimants by examining satisfaction with the claims process. Depending upon the complexity of a claim, the customer may experience all or only some of the following factors: claims settlement; service interaction; first notice of loss; repair process; and rental experience, according to the report. And implementing 10 specific service practices has a considerable impact on overall satisfaction with the claims process. The 10 practices are:

-Answering all customer questions;
-Managing expectations regarding the settlement;
-Expressing genuine concern;
-Avoiding negotiated settlements;
-Providing flexible appraisal appointments;
-Returning phone calls;
-Sharing information between representatives;
-Providing proactive updates;
-Ensuring customer is at ease with claims process; and
-Giving customers a time line and meeting it.

However, only one in three auto insurance customers filing a claim report receiving all of the top service practices, the report indicated. Among these customers, satisfaction averages 919 on a 1,000-point scale, with 75 percent indicating they “definitely will” renew their coverage. That compares to only 21 percent of customers who received six or fewer service practices saying they “definitely will” renew with their insurer. Additionally, satisfaction declines considerably among customers who only receive six or fewer key practices (594 points).

“Implementing these practices and enhancing the customer experience clearly has tremendous benefits for insurance providers through potentially increased renewal rates,” said Jeff Leiman, senior director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “For many auto claimants, filing a claim with their insurer can be a trying experience. Providing empathetic service and expressing genuine concern for the specifics of their personal situation, especially during the first notice of loss, is an absolute must in providing a satisfying experience.”

In the study, Auto-Owners ranked highest in providing a satisfying claims experience for auto insurance customers with a score of 864. Auto-Owners performed particularly well in the service interaction, settlement and repair process factors. Amica Mutual followed in the ranking with a score of 860, performing particularly well in the first notice of loss factor. State Farm ranked third overall with 851 points, and performed well in service interaction. The Hartford (833) and Country (826) rounded out the top five ranked insurers in the 2008 study.

The 2008 Auto Claims Satisfaction Study is based on 11,671 responses from auto insurance customers who filed a claim within the past 12 months. The study excluded customers who only had glass/windshield, theft/stolen vehicles, roadside assistance or bodily injury claims. The study was fielded from July to August 2008. To view the management discussion based on the 2008 study findings, visit

Source: J.D. Power and Associates

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