The moment of truth
Ken Rosen, senior vice president of claims for USAA, which ranks No. 1 for both auto and home insurers, says "the secret sauce is an engaged workforce." He says USAA employees are singularly focused on facilitating the financial success of the company's military members.
Rosen says insurers are judged on "that moment of truth," when the customer has had a car wreck or house damage.
"When you talk about the mission of USAA, it resonates with everyone" in the company, says Rosen. "Everything is focused on the members."
All levels of employees at USAA are encouraged to speak up if they spot a problem and to submit ideas for improvement. For example, an employee originally suggested an accident-animation function for USAA's mobile app. It's now part of the app and allows members to reconstruct an accident in animation and submit it with their claims.
USAA also conducts random surveys of members after they have been on a call with a representative and after they've had a claim. The insurer also conducts customer focus groups to get feedback on possible new products.
Monitoring and tweaking
American General, ranked No. 1 among life insurance companies, also relies on its staff to follow through on superior customer service. Stephen Kennedy, senior vice president of producer services, says, "We spend the time understanding why customers call and then ensuring we have the right people available to assist them."
American General home office staff are trained to "take ownership, be responsive and proactive, be nice (but firm when necessary) and follow through," says Kennedy.
The insurer uses surveys, real-time monitoring of customer feedback, call observation and random call-backs to monitor and tweak its processes and training.
The price shopper
Price was cited by 42% survey respondents as the most important factor in auto insurance-buying decisions; 21% think customer service is the most important factor. Satisfaction with claims, often a pain point, came in at 15%. Knowing how many customers would recommend the company and customer renewal rates were chosen as most important by 11% each.
Among customers who say they won't be renewing their auto or home insurance policies with their current company, price was the No. 1 reason.
Among people who say they won't renew with their current car insurance company:
- 62% think their price is too high.
- 12% think other companies are better.
- 10% cite poor customer service.
- 9% have "other" reasons.
- 8% point to dissatisfaction with claims.
In terms of actual satisfaction, however, shopping by price doesn't lead to the happiest customers. Among people who use the auto insurer their parents had, 57% gave a five-star rating for customer service. Among other types of insurance:
- Customers who chose a home insurance company based on reputation were most likely (57%) to give five stars.
- Among life insurance customers, those most likely to give five stars (48%) chose their company based on a TV commercial.
- Among health insurance customers, those most satisfied were those who picked based on company reputation or a recommendation from a friend (46% each giving five stars). The least satisfied were those who have a health plan chosen by their employer.
The fine print
You'd be hard-pressed to find an insurance expert who doesn't recommend that you read and understand your insurance policies. Yet our 2013 survey suggests that ignorance is bliss.
Among consumers who made car insurance claims in the last three years and say they haven't read any of their auto policy, 61% were nonetheless "completely satisfied" with the claims process. That's not too far apart from policyholders who made claims and also say they've read all of their auto policy -- 69% were "completely satisfied" with their claims.
O, help me
We also asked people who they would most want as their insurance agent from a celebrity list. Oprah Winfrey slightly edged out Donald Trump, suggesting most consumers either hope for an "aha!' moment with their insurance policies or want a pit bull to find them the best prices. Very few wanted Kim Kardashian trying to explain their insurance policies.
- Oprah Winfrey: 33%.
- Donald Trump: 31%.
- Barbara Walters: 17%.
- Al Roker: 15%.
- Kim Kardashian: 5%.
More from Insure.com:
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If you want to know what Insurance company is the the best and which ones are the worst, for auto claims, contact your local Collision Repair Facility. They work with insurance companies all day long every day. They'll be happy to tell you which ones don't SUCK. It's a very short list.
My son, who is in the Army, had USAA. Had it that is until he had a fender bender and they wanted to total his car and give him 1/2 of NADA dealer value.
Now he has State Farm, like I have had for 40 years.
I don't know who paid for these, or who paid for the results, but as an agent I can tell you
that from my interaction with these companies and my clients interactions with the majority
of these comanies either for customer service or claim info or claims paid, the would be
way down the list of an acceptable company.
Amy, for next year might I suggest you "poll" a few of us that are previous USAA customers and why we are in that status. I was 28 year customer of ONLY car insurance with as many as 7 cars at sometimes. When I started with USAA they ONLY insured officers and their immediate families,
that expanded to "Top 3" in enlisted ranks which was certainly warranted. Due to the fact that all those WWII and Korea officers are dying off in large numbers USAA has been FORCED to now include everyone and anyone that has ever SEEN anyone in the military. What do you think that did to their "risk" ratings for auto insurance???
I retired from the USAFR with 26 years of service, many of the soon to be almost 12000 pilots at my soon to be merged airline are current/retired/former military members with USAA eligibility. I cannot begin to tell you how many times on our pilot forum someone comes on the board looking for advice for other insurance companies as they have finally had enough of USAA and their "5 star" customer service. I would like to point out MOST USAA customers have no clue what other companies do because they have never had any other company. Suffice to say, the former Generals/Admirals/O-6's etc that run USAA have never dealt with REAL CUSTOMERS so they don't really know how.............if they did, they would have made a CONCERTED EFFORT to recapture a market that includes people in their highest earnings years, DON'T LIVE ON BASE, DON'T DRIVE STAFF CARS (who buys that insurance), but they do in many respects drive more expensive cars and live in the most expensive house they have ever owned. I'm not sure how many USAA Texas homeowner customers can not know how expensive their policy is compared to other companies in the state. They ASSUME USAA is ALWAYS the cheapest, that is not the truth.
My story can go on for pages, suffice to say I did not end my 28 relationship with them over nothing, and neither do the many pilots I fly with in the airlines. I think it might be time to find the other side of the story with USAA and perhaps this poll will look different next year!!
I think that every one is right in saying that USAA is the best and the worst. For younger drivers (under 30) with one car and house insurance is cheaper for them, but the way this is offset the cost is the people over 30 and/or multiple vehicles picks up the slack. Their cost doesn't go down with age or with the more autos you half (although you can only drive one at a time). I believe that is why people like Mr. Keith is upset with. I too have had them for over 15 years now but will have to get another because of this. They do react promptly with adjusters if you do have any type of claim. Really this is what has kept me with them this long.
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