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J.D. Power: Insurers Improve Customer Interaction in Claims

The market research organization's latest Auto Claims Satisfaction Study says customer-centric strategies are raising insurers' stature.

Insurers' focus on enabling claims professionals is paying off with customers at claim time, according to J.D. Power & Associates 2014 US Auto Claims Satisfaction Study. Nearly 11,000 customers were surveyed on first notice of loss, service interaction, appraisal, repair process, rental experience, and settlement. Service interaction satisfaction increased more than other areas year-over-year, with a seven point bump from 2013. Specifically, interactions with claim professionals were highly rated. At a time when auto insurance satisfaction overall is at record highs, insurers found more room for growth.

"Insurance companies are placing more emphasis on training their employees and representatives to be customer-centric, especially during the interaction process," said Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the global insurance practice at J.D. Power. "That focus is reflected in the increase in satisfaction, specifically with claim professionals, whose primary responsibility is to accurately estimate the amount of the insurance settlement. Historically, those individuals have been recruited and trained for their technical knowledge but haven't always been known for being customer service-oriented."

[Canadian insurers also make strides on claims.]

Amica Mutual took the top position among ranked insurers, scoring 900 on J.D. Power's 1,000-point scale, a 29-point improvement from 2013. Rounding out the top five were Auto-Owners Insurance (879), State Farm (869), American Family (868), and Auto Club of Southern California Insurance Group (867). Amica has invested in claims technology, including GIS mapping and personalized communications, over the past few years.

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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KBurger
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KBurger,
User Rank: Author
10/30/2014 | 1:23:52 PM
Re: Customer satisfaction
Exactly -- when someone files a claim, in most cases they already are sad/mad -- something bad has happened. And in many cases, because of the publicity that unfairly or ineptly handled claims get (especially post-catastrophe), most people probably start the process expecting to be screwed by their insurers in some way. So there's already a huge hurdle for insurers to surmount just to have a customer be satisfied with the claims experience, much less delighted.
Nathan Golia
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Nathan Golia,
User Rank: Author
10/30/2014 | 1:17:26 PM
Re: Customer satisfaction
Unfortunately, a claim means you're interacting at a time of pain and struggle for the customer. It's hard for any relationship to survive something like that.
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
10/30/2014 | 11:27:50 AM
Re: Customer satisfaction
True, price does play a major role in whether customers stick with their insurers. Even if the claim goes smoothly, just having to pay it will remind them that there could be cheaper options out there. 
Greg MacSweeney
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Greg MacSweeney,
User Rank: Author
10/30/2014 | 11:12:26 AM
Re: Customer satisfaction
Customers are fickle. Even though the claim experience went smoothly, maybe they didn't like the amount of $$ they received, which left them feeling cheated.

Also, a claim gets a customer to start thinking about insurance, which is something most customers don't do (they only think about it when they pay their premium, or when they have a claim). Once they start thinking about it, they may start to look for a cheaper option.

There are plenty of other of things that impact customer satisfaction too...way too many to list.
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
10/29/2014 | 4:51:54 PM
Re: Customer satisfaction
True, unfortunately customer satisfaction is still no guarantee of loyalty. That must be very frustrating for insurers working to deliver optimal service. However, I'd agree that insurers working to improve their customer experience are far better off than those not trying at all. 
KBurger
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KBurger,
User Rank: Author
10/29/2014 | 4:41:18 PM
Re: Customer satisfaction
But didn't we see/report on a different study that said that, even when customers have a good claim experience, there's still no guarantee they won't switch carriers? It's such a huge challenge now that providing excellent service is "table stakes" and not necessarily even a competitive advantage (tho it's definitely a disadvantage if you don't provide excellent service).
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
10/27/2014 | 5:30:09 PM
Customer satisfaction
Nice to see that efforts to improve customer experience are paying off, especially those over at Amica. It looks like the combination of both employee training and tech investments - not one or the other - is key to overall improvement in customer interactions. 
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