The satisfaction of customers making auto claims dropped to its lowest level for the first time in three quarters, according to a new study.

“J.D. Power and Associates’ 2012 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study” reported that overall customer satisfaction declined 13 points to 842 during the first quarter of 2012 compared to 855 during the 4th quarter of 2011.

The largest driver of lower satisfaction scores was a 19-point decline in first notice of loss, which is also known as when the customer first notified the insurance provider of damage to their vehicle.

During the first quarter of 2012, customers waited 1.8 days to call in a claim to carriers compared to 2.1 days for the 4th quarter of 2011 and 1.5 days during second quarter of 2011.

“It took a day longer for the customer to get their car back but when we look closely we were surprised to see that there were a number of customers who waited before taking their car in because the holiday season made it inconvenient to take the car to the shop,” Jeremy Bowler, senior director of insurance practice at J.D. Power and Associates in Detroit, told Insurance Networking News. “The sooner customers call in a claim, the quicker it will be paid,”

Other areas of significant decline were service interaction (-16 points), appraisal (-16 points) and the repair process (-15 points).

“I expect to see satisfaction improve during the 2nd quarter of 2012 because we are through the worst of the holiday season,” said Bowler.

The study is designed to benchmark the top 20 insurance companies on a seasonal basis.

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