In its 7th annual agent survey assessing the performance of property/casualty insurance carriers, Deep Customer Connections Inc. reports that there are two new names on the overall Top 10 list, illustrating how dynamic the performance is of carriers when ranked in their ease of doing business.

Deep Customer Connections, a Massachusetts provider of research and consulting to insurance agencies, asked 8,700 independent agents and brokers to assess the performance of more than 250 P&C carriers. Two companies made the Top 10 list for the first time: North Star Mutual and Auto-Owners Insurance.

Central Insurance of Ohio earned the No. 1 spot in this year’s industry-wide ratings. The Deep Customer Connections Index gauges a carrier’s performance against what independent agents rate as most important when choosing a carrier to write their business.

In addition to capturing the top spot, Central earned “Top Ten” status in each of 11 “key factor” categories, with No. 1 rankings in five factor categories—acts on agency needs, underwriting responsiveness, policy services, effective technology and making it easy for the agent to do business with the policyholder.

The “Top Ten” overall Deep Customer Connections’ Index performers are:

Central Mutual Insurance,  Van Wert, Ohio
West Bend Mutual Insurance, West Bend, Wis.
ACUITY Insurance, Sheboygan, Wis.
Safety Insurance, Boston, Mass.
Selective Insurance, Branchville, N.J.
North Star Mutual Insurance, Cottonwood, Minn.
United Fire Group, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Frankenmuth Insurance, Frankenmuth, Mich.
TIE – Auto-Owners Insurance, Lansing, Mich., and SECURA Insurance, Appleton, Wis.

“Industry-wide, a trend has broken,” said Nort Salz, president of Deep Customer Connections. “This year the Index fell one-third of a point to 88.15 compared with the pattern of slow but steady improvement since 2003.”

John Uzzi, senior associate at Deep Customer Connections, noted, “In the past seven years, 36,613 agents have provided 160,896 ratings of carriers in North America. This volume of agent participation says a great deal about the importance of ease of use to agents, and this data helps carriers identify improvement opportunities and priorities.”
In the survey, agents and brokers rate the importance of 11 factors, and evaluate the performance of individual carriers’ in each factor.

In addition to the highest overall Index performers, Deep Customer Connections recognizes the top performers by factor. They are:

Ease of Doing Business Factor - Top Property/Casualty Insurance Performer

Acts on agency needs - Central Mutual Insurance

Underwriting responsiveness - Central Mutual

InsuranceQuotes and issues without rework - Selective Insurance

Underwriting flexibility - Preferred Mutual Insurance

Policy services - Central Mutual Insurance

Effective technology - Central Mutual Insurance

Handles claims promptly - West Bend Mutual Insurance

Handles claims fairly - Cincinnati Insurance

Marketing support - West Bend Mutual Insurance

Insurance expertise and support - Erie Insurance Group

Makes it easy for the agent to do business with the policyholder - Central Mutual Insurance

“Acknowledging carriers’ superior performance helps improve service and productivity in this key insurance distribution channel,” added Paul Croke, co-founder of Deep Customer Connections. “We’re proud to acknowledge these superior performers, and we congratulate these carriers who continue to make improvements and set the bar for the rest of the industry.”

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