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Which auto insurers do customers love?

Three companies you may not have heard of topped J.D. Power's ratings of car insurance companies.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 1, 2011 1:51PM

This post comes from Barbara Marquand of partner site Insure.com.

 

Bruce Maynard got his first impression of how seriously Amica Mutual Insurance Co. took customer service when he was a brand-new employee with the company 34 years ago. A customer complained, he recalls, and "it was like the whole business stopped" as employees sprang into action to resolve the problem and learn what the company might have done wrong.

 

Maynard, now senior assistant vice president, points to Amica's commitment to treat customers well to explain why the company consistently wins top ranking for keeping customers happy. This year Amica won the highest customer satisfaction score among auto insurance companies for the 12th consecutive year, according to the 2011 U.S. National Auto Insurance Study by J.D. Power and Associates, a Westlake Village, Calif.-based market information services company.

 

The study measures customer satisfaction across five factors: interaction with the insurer, price, policy offerings, billing and payment, and claims. Customer satisfaction with auto insurance improved overall this year with an average index score of 790 on a 1,000-point scale -- up 13 points from 2010 when satisfaction dipped by 10 points from 2009. (How does your vehicle compare on insurance rates?)

 

Amica scored 843, followed by Erie Insurance with 825 and Shelter Insurance with 816. New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co. and USAA also scored high, but they were not included in the ranking because of their closed memberships.

 

Erie Insurance also came in at No. 2 last year. "Customers have told us that they choose Erie because of our great coverage and superior service at a fair price," says spokeswoman Megan Euston, adding that the company's 90% customer retention rate bears that out.

 

Shelter Insurance rose from No. 4 to No. 3 this year. Executive vice president Rick Means says his company conducts numerous customer surveys and makes changes based on the feedback. One thing the company learned is that customers want the ability to file claims quickly. Recently Shelter introduced its Fast Track service, which handles straightforward auto insurance claims -- where there are no complicated liability issues or serious injuries -- in just one phone call.

 

Maynard says Amica doesn't have a precise formula for customer interactions, but instead teaches employees to let customers set the agenda. Sometimes good service boils down to simple things, he adds. If someone is in a hurry, for instance, then customer service representatives deliver information quickly; if someone is confused, then they slow down and check in at each step to make sure a caller understands.

 

"We tell employees, 'We expect you to treat people the way you'd like to be treated, with respect and courtesy.'" Maynard says. "That's kind of a no-brainer. That's really how you should interact with human beings, isn't it? But that's not the way it happens at every business." Post continues after video.

Accident forgiveness is a plus

A new finding in this year's J.D. Power study is the comparable satisfaction between customers who have both their auto and home insurance with the same company and customers who have only their auto insurance with the company.

 

In earlier years, customers who received multipolicy discounts for bundling their car and home insurance tended to be more satisfied than those who bought only car insurance from an insurer.

 

Now discounts for buying multiple policies and driving safely appear not to affect customer satisfaction significantly. However, less common discounts, such as accident forgiveness, ticket forgiveness and claims-free discounts boost satisfaction by as much as 40 points, according to J.D. Power.

 

Still, the most important driver of customer satisfaction is interaction with the insurer. The study found that more than 80% of customers interact with their insurance companies through their websites and can complete their entire interactions online. Those who purchase policies through a call center tend to use an insurer's website as a complementary channel for service.

 

The most satisfied customers are those who use technologies such as e-mail, online chat or smartphone applications to complement their other interactions with a company, the study found.

 

More on Insure.com and MSN Money:

28Comments
Jul 6, 2011 12:57PM
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I'd be interested in knowing how USAA did against the other insurance companies.  
Jul 6, 2011 12:10PM
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Very interesting  I am definitely going to look into AMICA and Shelter   I am currently with Allstate
Jul 6, 2011 6:09PM
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whenever people from other insurance companies try to convert me over to their company i always let them babble for a little while and then they always ask the question, "so which insurance company are you currently with?"... "USAA.".... the look on their faces and the silence that follows because they realize they couldn't possibly compete with that is always hilarious haha
Jul 6, 2011 1:59PM
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I had Erie Insurance for my home for years and have excellent service on the couple of storm related claims. When Geico was anything but 'user friendly' in handling a claim (I finally gave up and cancelled my policy) I switched my auto insurance to Erie. Their rates are more than reasonable and I was able to get a discount because of the homeowners insurance. I have never had an auto claim in the 6 years I have been with them but I am sure their service will be as great with the auto as they are with my homeowners.
Jul 6, 2011 4:20PM
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Whats to love about a freakin car insurance co.???
Jul 6, 2011 3:25PM
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USAA actually ranked the exact same as Amica and better then Erie, but was not included in the results due to being limited who they allow to join. http://www.jdpower.com/Insurance/ratings/auto-insurance-provider-ratings/
Jul 6, 2011 6:24PM
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USAA, hands-down, and for over 30 years.  Never once been disappointed.  Rates are unmatchable as well.
Jul 6, 2011 3:18PM
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I had Nationwide from the time I turned 16 (on parents policy) til about 3 yrs ago.  I lease my vehicles so I had to carry what the leasing co required.  Every year, my rates kept going up...til I was paying almost $600 per 6 mos.  I started to check around, no one was cheaper...certainly not Progressive and Geico, even tho they say they do...so I would say stay away from them.  Also, State Farm and Allstate.  Then I checked the rates with Erie.  WHOA...hold the phone.  I really couldn't believe what I was quoted...for the same coverage.  I thought I hit the JACKPOT...even the LOTTERY.  I am now paying less than $600 for an entire year.  I was so overwhelmed with the savings that I convinced my sister who had Nationwide too for both her house and car.  Her savings although, not as big as mine, were a lot.  More so for her car and less for the house, but both savings.

I would recommend Erie to anyone who really wants to save money.....I would not recommend Progressive, Geico, Nationwide, All State, etc....I'm sure you all get tired of seeing their ads on tv....You wonder why their rates are so high???  They have to pay for their advertising somewhere.......Just a thought!!!

Jul 6, 2011 1:15PM
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In my experiance...Progres​sive and American Family in many cases DO NOT PAY THEIR AUTO INSURANCE CLAIMS. With many of the new insurance laws in place, they don't have too.

 

Raising preminums for NO reason, poor service, less oversight and regulation= more profits and less litigation for what should be considered a criminal enterprise.

 

Jul 6, 2011 4:44PM
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had Geico for 20 years. no claims. rates started to go up.  switched to Amica.

had Amica for 3 weeks when I was involved in an accident. other person had

NO insurance. I was found not at fault.

the person with no insurance told the police and paramedics she was fine.

but after talking to a lawyer she decided she was injured.

even though i was fully insured and was not at fault, because Amica agreed

to pay for her injuries, they cancelled me.  no explanation, just a form letter

stating I had 30 days to find another carrier...

Jul 6, 2011 1:10PM
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Same here. To date, I've insured my 2009 Chevy Malibu with Hartford, Allstate, Progressive, and now with 21st Century. Why so many insurance companies? Simple: Outrageous Rate increases at time of renewal.
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When I was moderately (to drs office but not hospital...significa​nt permanent injuries) injured and my car a total loss by a GEICO insured driver, their settlement offers were ridiculously low.  They could not have cared less about fair compensation, and were interested only in getting out as cheaply as they could.  Guess they needed more money to pay for those irritating commercials.
I would never recommend them as they are interested only in the bottom line.

Jul 6, 2011 1:45PM
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Wawanesa is the best company...low rates that usually go down each year, not up!!  What I pay a year for them is what I have been quoted for 6 months with Progressive, State Farm, etc.  Plus their claims department is super easy to access and work with. I most definitely won't be changing anytime soon!! =)
Jul 6, 2011 8:40PM
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I would be very skeptical of the ratings you see. I am an Independent Agent and represent more than 10 of the companies on this list. I can tell you the way they are listed does not reflect the daily experiences I have with them. Some would be much higher and some lower. The real issue to me is claims. As an Independent Agents my clients come to me for help and they can count on great service. They are dealing with someone they know and can trust. These rating do not consider claims and I would advise my clients to go with a company with great claims service. Call your agent to ask about their claims process, how do they rate?

Jul 6, 2011 7:08PM
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Wow.  4 times in 6 months.  Obviously MSN is short on content and continually re-runs old stories.

 

People who buy accident forgiveness, ticket forgiveness, etc. are crazy.  Insurance companies sell you this BS to make more money.  You pay more to get it; so if you have three years without an accident, or without a ticket (which more people do than don't) you have paid more for your insurance than you should. Me, I love it, because I make more when you buy these insane perks, but I continually discourage my customers from wasting their money.  If you get in an accident, pay for it after the fact. How many of you have had an accident in the last 10 years? If you don't, then you have not paid more money for your insiurancer.  Allstate, Nationwide and State Farm have some of the highest rates, and pitch you on TV to pay them more.  Don't fall for the trap! 

Jul 6, 2011 4:59PM
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I've had AMICA for over 30 years.  Wonderful company to work with.  Low rates.  Great customer service.  I would never change companies.
Jul 6, 2011 2:42PM
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I have NJ Manufacturers for both home and auto and they are great, Dividend checks every year!
Aug 8, 2011 11:14AM
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It really depends where you live, I had Farm Bureau for a decade but when I moved to another state my insurance bill went from $800.00 per year to over $3,800. for the same vehicles and drivers. Switched to AARP HArtford and even beat the old Farm Bureau rates. While AMICA, Erie and shelter might be the best, their outrageous rates make them totally out of the question for all but the top 1% or most wealthy people who have tons of cash to throw away.
Jul 6, 2011 11:22PM
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I've had USAA for 34 years -- no one can match them -- not even close -- for price or service.  I've never, ever been disappointed.  My dad used to work for AAA, and he always said USAA was unbeatable and unmatchable, and he was right.
Jul 6, 2011 7:20PM
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so you write an article on insurance companies and then the page is loaded with ads from guess where?  insurance companies.  wow!
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