Consumer Reports: 73% Happy with Current Home Insurance Carrier

August 5, 2009

A new Consumer Reports’ survey of homeowner insurance customers found some good news, especially for people with decent credit and claims history. Lots of consumers are finding lower prices. More than half (53 percent) of the respondents who switched companies in the past few years, said they had found a better premium with their new carrier.

Also respondents are reasonably content. Overall, 73 percent are highly satisfied with their current carrier. That compares with a satisfaction rate of 77 percent in 2003, the last time Consumer Reports published ratings of homeowners insurance. Only 5 percent indicated their claims were rejected, and 11 percent said they received too little payment for their claims. The remaining 84 percent got what they expected with the settlement of their claims.

The Consumer Reports’ survey asked 10,700 readers about their satisfaction with their homeowners insurance claims service in the last few years.

Respondents rated Amica Mutual Group, USAA Group, and the Chubb Group of Insurance Cos. higher for claims satisfaction than most other insurers. USAA homeowners insurance is available only to those with a connection to the U.S. military, while Chubb markets itself as a high-end insurer, with premiums to match. Amica says it has moved away from its tradition of selling only to those referred by policyholders, the survey said.

Consumer Reports’ survey did find some claims problems with some large insurers. Thirty-five percent of Allstate Insurance Group clients reported having problems with that carrier, the nation’s second-largest. That contrasts with 14 percent who reported problems with highly-rated Amica. Allstate and Travelers Insurance Cos., another large insurance group, were also among the lower-rated groups overall.

Delayed payments are common. Twenty-one percent of respondents said they faced delays having claims paid. Amica and USAA got better marks than most.

The Consumer Reports National Research Center surveyed readers about their experience with homeowners insurance claims in the last few years. Insurance companies were rated on respondents reports of overall satisfaction and claims of reported problems, including dissatisfaction with claim pay out amounts, and payment delays.

Consumer Reports’ home insurance group survey is part of a larger report that found that insurers are scaling back coverage, imposing high deductibles on claims for damage from windstorms in many places, and cutting coverage for mold and dog bites. The survey reports that some companies are using credit-based insurance scores to reject prospective clients and to raise premiums of current ones. In some areas, insurers have abandoned homeowners coverage entirely.

The survey is featured in the September issue of Consumer Reports, available August 4. The complete report is also available online.

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