Public Opinion of Insurers Sours

A new survey from GfK Custom Research North America finds widespread mistrust for corporations, insurers included.

Among the top public complaints regarding corporations: "CEOs and senior executives being overpaid"; "corruption among corporate management"; that companies "make up lost earnings at their customers' expense"; and that "more and more products are being made overseas."

Interestingly, insurers fared poorly against other industries when it comes to public trust. For example, while 71% of respondents expressed trust in the retail sector and 65% expressed trust in packaged food manufacturers, only 39% expressed trust in insurance companies. Indeed, only financial services companies (35%) and the federal government (31%) tallied a lower degree of trust among respondents.

"American corporations find themselves at a critical juncture in the development of their individual brands,” GfK Co-President David Krajicek said in a statement. “Communication and transparency are paramount moving forward for companies to shore up and rebuild levels of trust that have been flagging among American consumers.”

One bright note for insurers is that they fared better among “ Influential Americans” a leading-indicator segment indentified by GfK that it says represents “the 10% of Americans most involved in creating change in society.” The Influential Americans stand out for being less critical than the average American surveyed, with 44% indicating that they trusted the insurance industry. "Trust is one of the most important factors that American corporations need to focus on if they are going to engage and retain their most loyal and influential customers," Krajicek added.

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