J.D. Power: Auto Claimants More Satisfied Even Though Repairs Taking Longer

By Jim Sams | October 27, 2023

Auto repairs are taking more than twice as long as they did in 2021, but policyholders who filed claims appear to be taking that in stride.

J.D. Power reported Thursday that the industry average claims satisfaction rating increased five points to 878 on a 1,000-point scale, even though the average repair cycle time increased to 23.1 days, up 6.2 days from 2022 and more than double the average repair time in 2021.

Mark Garrett, director of global insurance intelligence for J.D. Power, said the bump is due to “concerted efforts by insurers to manage customer expectations.”

“Insurers have been able to earn significantly higher auto claim satisfaction scores at a time when costs and rates are rising—even though it’s never taken longer to get a vehicle repaired,” he said. “Notable, too, is that insurers that have improved the most in overall satisfaction have done so in two key customer areas: showing concern for their situation at the beginning of the process and keeping them informed. Being empathetic toward the customer situation goes a long way in building trust with them.”

The 2023 rating recovered much of what was lost in 2022, when the average satisfaction score dropped seven points from a record high of 880. J.D. Power blamed lengthy repair times, which had increased to 17 days from a pre-pandemic average of about 12 days.

Even though repair cycle times continued to deteriorate this year, customer satisfaction increased in nearly every factor, including settlement; first notice of loss; claim servicing; estimation process; and repair process. The only factor to decline was rental experience, which fell two points, J.D. Power said.

One sore point for claimants was the amount of time that insurers pay for their rental cars. J.D. Power said a larger share of customers said their rental period was not long enough or they had incurred out-of-pocket expenses. Overall rental satisfaction for repairable claims drops 32 points when a car repair took 15 days or longer.

Seamless digital interactions, on the other hand, create happier customers, but only if the customers prefer digital channels. J.D. Power said satisfaction declines among customers who prefer personal interaction but are directed to digital processes.

Amica Mutual Insurance Co. seems to be getting the claims process right. The insurer earned the top rating among 26 insurers that were included in the ranking, with an average score of 909. Amica improved from an average score of 903 last year, when it also placed No. 1 in the ranking.

Sean Welch, senior vice president of claims for Amica, said in a statement that the company anticipates customers’ needs and “proactively communicate,” especially when it is experiencing longer repair times.

“We also leverage technology to expedite the claims process, issue payment quickly and maintain a strong network of reputable repair shops,” he said. “We know what an inconvenience it is to not have access to your vehicle, and we do everything in our power to make the process seamless for our customers.”

Erie Insurance ranked second in this year’s survey, with an average score of 902. NJM Insurance Co. took third place, with a score of 900. USAA also scored 900, but J.D. Power does not include it within its ranking because the carrier serves military families exclusively.

Kemper ranked last, a position it has held in each of the last three years. Kemper’s customer satisfaction score improved, however, to 820 from 798 last year and the year before. Mercury and Automobile Club Group ranked just above Mercury with a score of 848 each.

J.D. Power said its claims satisfaction study is based on responses from 9,659 auto insurance customers who settled a claim within the past nine months prior to participating in the survey. The study excludes claimants whose vehicle incurred only glass/windshield damage or was stolen, or who only filed a roadside assistance claim.

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