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How Amica Builds a Winning Customer Experience

Amica, which ranked first in Consumer Reports’ customer service survey for home insurers, discusses its effective approach.

Amica, USAA and Auto-Owners were ranked highest among home insurance customers for user experience, according to recent survey data from Consumer Reports.

To determine the most recent rankings, the Consumer Reports National Research Center surveyed 9,900 subscribers who filed homeowner’s insurance claims from 2010 through June 2013. Insurers were evaluated based on criteria such as agent courtesy, timely payment, and whether they provided an overall problem-free claims experience.

Claims pricing was the top priority among respondents. “The satisfaction with the company’s estimate on damage claim is the biggest predictor of what really drives satisfaction,” says Steven Witten, director of survey research at Consumer Reports. Three-quarters (76%) of respondents who were content with their damage estimate also expressed overall satisfaction with their insurer.

The importance of a problem-free claims experience fell second. “As long as they’re getting the amount of money they hope to get, they’re willing to overlook a little problem here and there,” Witten explains.

Amica and USAA have consistently scored well in the home insurer survey, which has been conducted seven times since 1988. While there isn’t much statistical difference between the two, Witten says, Amica has always come out on top. The insurer has placed first in each set of rankings since the survey’s inception.

“Year by year, their consistency is really the one thing that pulls them apart,” he adds. “They don’t stand out in one category in any given year; they just continue to perform well across the board.”

When it comes to serving customers, Amica focuses on anticipating consumer needs and leveraging multichannel communications, according to VP of claims Sean Welch. The insurer, which is a long-time proponent of personalized face-to-face interaction, recognized that many consumers now prefer digital communications. In order to stay ahead, it has adjusted its strategy to provide easily accessible information to consumers.

[Amica also leads J.D. Power & Associates claims metrics]

“One of the top priorities right now is delivering the same high-quality experience to our customers no matter how they want to communicate,” Welch continues. Web and mobile are now areas of high focus.

Welch credits Amica’s consistently high ranking with its ability to efficiently meet customers’ needs and provide personalized communications regardless of where the policyholder is located. Technology has grown to play a big role in customer experience, he says, and its influence affects everything from claims systems to mobile capabilities. It’s critical to be able to provide a high-quality experience on the phone, in person, or with whatever technology the customer wants to use, Welch explains.

Of course, choosing the correct technology can be daunting for insurers. “Everybody always wants the latest and greatest,” says Welch. “But you have to be careful and look at the current long-term plan, what is most cost-effective and what will have the greatest impact on customer service.”

Insurers face the challenge of staying ahead of the technology curve, and it can be tough to determine which new technologies are worth the investment. Amica is currently upgrading its policy center, which will improve communications for claims handlers when fully integrated.

Welch also notes the importance of prioritizing customer experience within the overall company structure. “It’s a very strong part of our culture,” he says, and new employees are taught the importance of customer service. Going forward, he notes that technology will play an increasingly vital role in user experience.

Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio

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User Rank: Author
4/27/2014 | 8:25:27 PM
re: How Amica Builds a Winning Customer Experience
That's a hard balance for most companies to achieve. Obviously some lessons to be learned from their approach.
Becca L
Becca L,
User Rank: Author
4/27/2014 | 7:11:10 PM
re: How Amica Builds a Winning Customer Experience
I hear time and again that if something is important to the company, it has to flow through all the levels and departments of the business. Amica is making customer service an integral part of the entire company, not just something designated to the customer service center, and clearly it comes through in spades. This also goes for security - when it's not just IT's problem, but every employee's concern, those firms are often acknowledged for less overall risk.
Nathan Golia
Nathan Golia,
User Rank: Author
4/26/2014 | 1:36:40 PM
re: How Amica Builds a Winning Customer Experience
One reason I think Amica has been so successful for so long in this area is that they are traditional in their treatment of the emotional side of insurance, while still innovative in their interactions and use of data. That is to say, they understand their customer very well (the company and its employees are very involved locally) and how they will react to insurance interactions, while delivering that experience in ways that evolve with consumer preference.
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