USAA’s auto insurance customers are the most satisfied in North America, according to a new study of more than 20,000 consumers conducted by Market Force Information. Amica, Erie Insurance Group, The Hartford, State Farm and AAA followed USAA at the top of the rankings.

The customer satisfaction rankings were determined using a “Delight Index,” an analysis designed to reveal the intersection of overall satisfaction and the likelihood of recommending the auto insurance provider to friends and family. Among respondents, 79 percent said they would recommend USAA to a friend or colleague; 65 percent said they would do the same for Amica Mutual Insurance, 54 percent for Erie, 50 percent for State Farm and 49 percent for AAA.

USAA customers are the most loyal as well, with 75 percent indicating they are committed to the provider. Forty-nine percent said they were committed to Amica, 45 percent to State Farm, 42 percent to Erie and 40 percent to AAA.

USAA has also received mention for its customer service elsewhere, including top marks from a recent Temkin study. Earlier this year, J.D. Power ranked auto insurers by region based on customer satisfaction, and though USAA was not included in the actual rankings because of its unique market position, it still scored higher than State Farm, The Hartford and other insurers receiving top marks according to that study.

Market Force also looked at the providers that consumers patronize the most, asking which company they use for their auto insurance needs. Five companies dominated, with State Farm (18 percent) in the lead, followed by GEICO (13 percent), Allstate (8 percent), Progressive (8 percent) and USAA (6 percent). A.M. Best also recently ranked auto insurers by market share, and found Farmers to be included in the top five instead of USAA.

When asked why they chose their primary auto insurance provider, price was the over-riding factor, mentioned by 59 percent of participants. Consolidated coverage also played a role in decision-making, with 28 percent indicating they chose their provider offering complete service options. Twenty-four percent chose their provider based on recommendations from family or friends, and 24 percent said it was important that their provider was a stable, financially secure institution.

In order to determine which providers are delivering on the various attributes that compel consumers to become customers, Market Force analyzed participant responses and found that a mix of brands are winning on the top 10 attributes, with Esurance and USAA earning the most votes in multiple categories. For price, Esurance (83 percent) and GEICO (80 percent) came out on top. Esurance also ranked highest (56 percent) for easy online services, followed by GEICO and USAA in a tie for second with 39 percent. USAA was most recommended by friends/family at 43 percent followed by Erie Insurance Group (40 percent) and Amica (38 percent). USAA also came out in front on the stable/financially-secure institution category at 50 percent, followed by State Farm (36 percent) and AAA (33 percent).

Delighted customers are more than five times as likely to recommend a business to friends and family compared to merely satisfied customers. The study revealed that only 52 percent of consumers are delighted with their auto insurance provider, 35 percent indicated their provider was just OK and 13 percent were dissatisfied.

One quarter of respondents indicated they considered switching auto insurance providers in the past year, with Esurance customers leading that group at 52 percent. Thirty-seven percent of Farmers Insurance and Nationwide Insurance customers considered changing insurance providers in the past year, followed by Progressive with 35 percent and 21st Century Insurance at 34 percent. USAA customers were at the least likely to consider changing providers at 10 percent.

Of those who considered switching providers in the past year, 12 percent actually did. GEICO, Progressive, Allstate and State Farm had the highest loss rate among those respondents

When asked why they changed providers, consumers cited the following reasons: “The insurance provider implemented new fees/rules that adversely affected me” (25 percent); “I wasn’t happy with the service” (22 percent); “The new insurance company was recommended to me” (13 percent); I wanted to consolidate services with fewer insurance providers (9 percent); I saw some intriguing advertising and decided to investigate the provider (5 percent); I didn’t trust the financial stability of my insurance provider (2 percent).

Looking ahead, only 14 percent of study participants indicated they definitely will not switch from their current provider in the coming year. Eight percent said they definitely will be switching and 78 percent were undecided.

The survey was conducted in August 2013 across the United States and Canada, surveying 21,016 respondents.

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