J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Overall Customer Satisfaction with the Home Claims Experience is Notably Lower than Satisfaction with Auto Claims

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 22 December 2009 – Satisfaction among homeowners insurance customers who file a property claim is significantly lower than that of auto claimants, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Home Claims Satisfaction StudySM released today.

The study finds that customer satisfaction with the home claims experience averages 828 on a 1,000-point scale. In comparison, satisfaction with the auto claims experience averages 842, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Auto Claims Satisfaction StudySM released in November.

“Home claims are typically far more complex than auto claims, and homeowners insurance claimants tend to have less knowledge of the specifics of their policy coverage than do auto claimants,” said Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “Although satisfying home claimants is particularly challenging, it’s still crucial for insurance providers to meet the needs of these customers, given the significant impact the experience has on long-term policy retention.”

The study also finds that higher levels of satisfaction with the home claims experience have a positive impact on customer loyalty and advocacy. Among customers of insurers that achieve high satisfaction scores (averaging 837 or higher), two-thirds say they “definitely will” renew their policy, while 64 percent say they “definitely will” recommend the insurer. In contrast, among customers of insurers with lower levels of satisfaction (scores averaging 816 or below), only 49 percent say they “definitely will” renew and 42 percent say they “definitely will” recommend the insurer.

“While only about 6 percent of homeowners insurance customers per year file a home claim, for those who do, no other aspect of the experience with their insurer is more meaningful,” said Bowler. “An experience that meets or exceeds customer expectations may foster long-term loyalty, just as a negative experience may drive a customer to shop other insurance companies.”

In particular, insurers have the opportunity to improve customer satisfaction during the first notice of loss and settlement portions of the claims process. During the first notice of loss process, fewer than three-fourths of home claimants indicate that the insurer provided an explanation of their policy coverage, compared with 81 percent of auto claimants.

During the settlement process, claimants’ lack of understanding regarding their policy coverage often leads to negotiated settlements. Twenty-two percent of home claimants report negotiating the settlement amount, while just 11 percent of auto claimants say the same.

“The negotiation process tends to be difficult and stressful and often leads most customers to become dissatisfied with their claims experience,” said Bowler. “On average, satisfaction among home claimants who negotiate their settlement is 117 points lower than among those who didn’t negotiate. By thoroughly explaining the limitations of the policy coverage and fully managing customer expectations, insurance companies may be able to lower the number of negotiations and improve claimant satisfaction considerably.”

The 2009 Home Claims Satisfaction Study measures insurance customer satisfaction with the property claims experience by examining five factors: settlement; first notice of loss; appraisal; service interaction; and repair process. The study is based on surveys from 2,500 insurance customers nationally who filed a property claim between January 2008 and July 2009 and evaluates 11 insurance companies across the industry, including: Allstate; American Family; Amica Mutual; Farmers; Liberty Mutual; Nationwide; Safeco; State Farm; The Hartford; Travelers; and USAA. The study was fielded in July and August 2009.

About J.D. Power and Associates

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, Web intelligence and customer satisfaction. The company’s quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies:

Founded in 1888, The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP) is a leading global information services provider meeting worldwide needs in the financial services, education and business information markets through leading brands such as Standard & Poor’s, McGraw-Hill Education, Platts, Capital IQ, J.D. Power and Associates, McGraw-Hill Construction and Aviation Week. The Corporation has more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Sales in 2008 were $6.4 billion. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com/.