Customer satisfaction with P&C, life and health insurance reached a new high in Q3 2013, according to a report released by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, a national economic indicator of customer evaluations.

Despite annual premium-rate increases, customer satisfaction with P&C insurance increased 3.8 percent to 81 on the 100-point index. Life insurance satisfaction levels increased 2.5 percent to 83, according to ACSI, and, satisfaction with health insurance increased 1.4 percent to a benchmark of 73.

“Customers are more satisfied with auto insurance (79) than homeowners insurance (76), although customers with multiple policies from the same insurer have the highest level of satisfaction (80),” ACSI said.

The increase in P&C customer satisfaction largely is the result of gains by smaller insurance carriers, a group that includes AAA and Nationwide (up 8 percent to 83), ACSI said. 

“Among the largest property/casualty insurers, GEICO is the only company to improve (up 3 percent to 81), taking the top spot and supplanting State Farm (-2 percent to 79) and Progressive (-4 percent to 78). Allstate (-3 percent to 77) and Farmers (-4 percent to 76) follow closely behind,” ACSI reported.

Policyholders gave life and P&C insurers high marks for customer service and the variety of coverage options offered, but said the availability of meaningful policy discounts and rewards was lacking.

P&C Insurers ACSI Scores:

Company

2012

2013

% Change

Property & Casualty Insurance

78

81

3.8%

All Others

77

83

7.8%

GEICO

79

81

2.5%

State Farm

81

79

-2.5%

Progressive

81

78

-3.7%

Allstate

79

77

-2.5%

Farmers

79

76

-3.8%

 

Smaller life insurers tended to have higher customer satisfaction, ACSI said. Smaller firms, including John Hancock and Lincoln Financial, continue to lead (up 2 percent to an 83 aggregate score). Among large insurers, New York Life is at the top, unchanged at 80 for the third consecutive year. “The remaining life insurers group together a bit below, with Northwestern Mutual (-1 percent) and Prudential (-1 percent) tied at 78 and MetLife (-1 percent) at 77,” ACSI said.

Life Insurance ACSI Scores:

Company

2012

2013

% Change

Life Insurance

81

83

2.5%

All Others

81

83

2.5%

New York Life

80

80

0%

Northwestern Mutual

79

78

-1.3%

Prudential

79

78

-1.3%

MetLife

78

77

-1.3%

 

While premiums, out of pocket expenses and complicated policies contribute to relatively-low satisfaction compared to other financial services, ACSI notes that health insurance premiums are increasing at the slowest pace in years.

“The health insurance industry is in a state of flux as many parts of the Affordable Care Act come into effect, including insurance exchanges, which allow consumers to comparison shop for health care coverage,” says David VanAmburg, ACSI director. “The customer satisfaction gains this year may be driven in part by expected price competition as health insurance companies anticipate the effects of the new online marketplace.”

Health insurers now have increased ability to compete on price, ACSI said, and also to differentiate by competing on customer satisfaction. Currently most companies are clustered around the industry average of 73. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association currently leads with an ACSI score of 74; WellPoint increased by 4 percent to match the industry average.

In aggregate, scores for smaller insurers, such as Cigna and Humana, remain just below average (+1 percent to 72), ACSI said. And, UnitedHealth is stable at 70, while Aetna is at the bottom at 69 despite a 3-percent gain.

Health Insurance ACSI Scores:

Company

2012

2013

% Change

Health Insurance

72

73

1.4%

Blue Cross and Blue Shield

73

74

1.4 %

WellPoint

70

73

4.3%

All others

71

72

1.4%

UnitedHealth

70

70

0%

Aetna

67

69

3%

 

“Customers rate most aspects of the health insurance experience rather poor,” ACSI said. “While most policies do provide reasonably good access to hospitals and primary and specialty care doctors, coverage of services, particularly prescription drugs, could be better. Billings are not very easy to understand and industry-wide both insurance websites and call centers receive low marks from users.”

ACSI results are released monthly and all measures are reported on scale of 0 to 100. ACSI is a national economic indicator of customer evaluations of the quality of products and services available to household consumers in the United States. The ACSI uses data from 70,000 customer interviews annually as inputs to an econometric model for analyzing customer satisfaction with more than 230 companies in 43 industries and 10 economic sectors.

Read about last year’s results: Life Insurers’ Customer Satisfaction Peaks; Property/Casualty Plummets

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