December 10, 2013

The third quarter of 2013 has shown improvement in customer satisfaction across the insurance industry, but some areas have fared better than others, according to a report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). The study scored the customer satisfaction of individual insurers on a 0-100 scale.

Customer satisfaction among P&C insurers climbed 3.8% to a score of 81, despite annual rate increases. The improvement can be attributed to smaller carriers such as AAA and Nationwide (+8% to 83). GEICO showed the only rise among large insurers (+3% to 81). Decreases were seen in State Farm (-2% to 79), Progressive (-4% to 78), Allstate (-3% to 77), and Farmers (-4% to 76).

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P&C policyholders proved more satisfied with auto insurance (79) than homeowners insurance (76), but customers with multiple policies from the same insurer showed the greatest satisfaction (80). Life insurance rose for the second year in a row (+2.5% to 83). As with P&C, smaller insurers tended to have higher customer satisfaction.

“Policy holders of property and life insurance give firms high marks for their customer service and the variety of coverage options offered, but they find the availability of meaningful policy discounts and rewards lacking,” states the report.

Customer satisfaction for health insurance rose by 1.4% to 73. The industry’s comparatively low score can be attributed to high premiums, complicated policies, and out-of-pocket expenses. Consumers rate most aspects of health insurance as poor, claiming that coverage of services could improve, billing is difficult to understand, and call centers and websites could be better.

Currently, there is little differentiation among health insurers, all of which are close to the industry average of 73. This presents an opportunity for firms to distinguish themselves by improving customer satisfaction, ACSI says.

Kelly is an associate editor for Insurance & Technology. Prior to joining InformationWeek Financial Services, she was a staff writer for InformationWeek and InformationWeek Education. Kelly has also written for trade ...