A couple P&C insurers have shined during two of the worst years of natural catastrophic event property claim settlements in the history in the United States, according to J.D. Power and Associates’ “2013 Property Claims Satisfaction Study.”

Amica Mutual ranks highest in overall satisfaction with the homeowners insurance claims experience for the second-consecutive year, achieving a score of 907. Amica Mutual also performs particularly well in all five factors. Chubb follows in the rankings with a score of 902. USAA also achieves high levels of customer satisfaction, although it is not included in the rankings due to the closed nature of its membership, J.D. Power said. The rankings for the sixth annual study are based on an examination of five factors: settlement, first notice of loss, estimation process, service interaction and repair process.

Amica Mutual - 907

USAA - 904

Chubb - 902

Encompass - 867

COUNTRY - 859

The Hartford - 858

Nationwide - 858

Erie Insurance - 856

Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA) - 853

MetLife - 853

Auto-Owners Insurance - 849

American Family - 844

Liberty Mutual - 839

Allstate - 838

Travelers - 834

State Farm - 832

Farmers - 825

AAA NCNU Insurance Exchange - 819

Safeco - 817

For the industry as a whole, overall customer satisfaction with the insurance claims experience remains high and stable year over year. Overall satisfaction in the 2013 study is 832 (on a 1,000-point scale), decreasing by one point compared to last year, but significantly increasing from 823 in 2011 and 818 in 2010.

In the 2013 study, among the approximately 8 percent of homeowners in the United States who filed a property claim, the average settlement amount is $8,517, up from $7,937 in 2012. While the amount of the settlement to cover contents increases by nearly $250 year over year, the amount to cover the cost of repairs increases to $7,844 in 2013 from $7,151 in 2012. The average out-of-pocket expenses paid by homeowners nearly doubles to $3,888 in 2013 from $1,945 in 2012.

DIRECT VS. AGENTS

Satisfaction with the service interaction process declines by nine points in 2013, compared with 2012. J.D. Power attributes much of that drop to the continuing trend of homeowners filing their claim via direct channels—typically online or by calling a call center—rather than through an agent.

"For the industry average, the call center experience fails to deliver the same level of service as an agent," said Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "Especially during times of hardship when someone's house has been destroyed or their valuable possessions have been lost, it's difficult for a call center representative to replicate the personal relationship customers get with an agent.”

The study finds that 68 percent of customers file their recent homeowners claim through direct channels, a significant increase from 57 percent in 2012. However, while the percentage of customers filing through direct channels continues to increase, satisfaction among claimants who file through an agent is 50 points higher than those who file a claim directly.

"The industry is definitely shifting toward direct channels," Bowler said. "As that shift continues, the key for insurance companies is to ensure their call center representatives are fully trained to provide the claims experience their customers have come to expect. High customer satisfaction can be achieved through call centers, because some of the insurance companies that have the highest overall satisfaction in the study are direct providers, including Amica Mutual, this year's highest-ranked insurer."

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