Price is important when choosing an insurer, but you shouldn’t judge which company is best based on price alone. It’s also important to have top-rated customer service. There are a couple of resources you can use to learn which companies have the best customer service and claims handling records. Here are some of the most reliable.
J.D. Power is a marketing company that researches customer satisfaction with insurers. They ask tens of thousands of consumers each year about their opinions and publish the results in three major surveys.
Want to know which are the best companies to buy from? Check out the “purchase experience survey”. It rates the best insurers on policy offerings, price, and other issues. This survey is national and includes results from about 25 insurers.
Want to know the top companies for handling claims? Look at the results for the “claims satisfaction survey”. It rates insurers on agent interaction, the repair process, and other parts of the claims process. This survey is also national and includes results from about 25 insurers.
Finally, the “U.S. auto insurance study” looks at customer satisfaction overall. The results of this survey are broken down into 11 regions for a more localized view. The most recent edition included results for nearly 50 companies.
With the J.D. Power ratings, you get a good idea of how major insurers measure up during two of the most basic interactions with consumers: buying a policy and using it.
Another resource is your state’s consumer complaint reports. These don’t have the same recognition as the J.D. Power reports, but they can still be useful. Insurance regulators produce them each year and publish them online in most states.
You can use these reports to see how many complaints were filed against the largest car insurers in your state. The complaint information will give you get a better sense of which insurers have the most and least satisfied customers. The reports sometimes include hundreds of insurers, and it can get overwhelming. However, they can still be a good resource when you’re researching a smaller insurer that may not be featured in the J.D. Power ratings, or if you want to see the worst offenders so you know which companies to avoid.
Some reports include helpful “complaint ratios.” If your state includes these, this is the statistic you should pay attention to. The complaint ratio is a measurement that levels the playing field for bigger and smaller insurers. If you look at the complaint numbers alone, big insurers have a disadvantage. For example, a company with 1 million customers will probably get more complaints than one with 10,000 customers just because of the size. Complaint ratios account for this and show how many complaints a company gets per customer or per premium dollar.
Another useful (but less scientific) way to learn about a company’s customer service record is to ask family and friends.
Consumer surveys are not the only source of information.Talking with other consumers about their experiences can also give you priceless insight into how a company treats its customers.
The 10 largest car insurance companies wrote more than $121 billion in premiums in 2012. That's about 70% of all car insurance premiums that year.