Customers reporting highest satisfaction with auto insurers in five years, but trouble may be on the horizon

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Auto insurers are in the midst of a five-year high in terms of customer satisfaction due to low premiums, but may see a turn in the tide as market conditions begin to worsen, according to a new survey conducted by J.D. Power and Associates.

Auto insurers are in the midst of a five-year high in terms of customer satisfaction due to low premiums, but may see a turn in the tide as market conditions begin to worsen, according to a new survey conducted by J.D. Power and Associates.

The National Auto Insurance Study measured customer satisfaction of auto insurance companies by gauging responses to five factors: interaction, policy offerings, billing and payment, price and claims.

The 2009 edition found that insurers averaged a score of 801 on a 1,000-point scale. The score was an increase of 14 points from 2008 and the highest in five years.

While the survey supplied generally positive information, J.D. Power's senior director of the insurance practice Jeremy Bowler warned that current economic conditions and a potential rise in rates down the road could lead to a decline in customer satisfaction similar to the one that occurred 12 months after the start of the 2001-2002 recessions.

"If history repeats itself, one could anticipate a notable decline in overall customer satisfaction as a result," said Bowler. "However, such upheaval in the marketplace creates opportunities for insurers to differentiate themselves and gain a competitive advantage. Most notably, companies that compete less on price and more on quality of services or through affinity relationships may be able to mitigate some of the expected decline in satisfaction."

Forty-two percent of customers in the 2009 reported that their premiums decreased without needing to switch insurers, almost twice the rate from 2008.

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Posted: August 18, 2009

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