Despite the economic upheaval, more Americans are satisfied with their auto insurance providers now more than ever. A study conducted by J.D. Power and Associates revealed that car owners are increasingly satisfied with their insurers this year, mostly because of lower premiums.
Industry specialists say that the ongoing price wars are forcing providers to slash insurance rates to attract customers. This has led to a major drop in the national average insurance premiums. In fact, the most recent figures suggest that the average is the lowest in over a year.
The research body found out that overall satisfaction this year was the highest in 5 years. Customer satisfaction is measured on a 1,000-point scale. In 2009, the satisfaction figure is 801, an increase of 14 points from 2008. Of the 32 providers included in the survey, more than half posted significant improvements since the last survey in 2008.
The annual survey conducted by J.D. Power and Associates measures satisfaction based on several factors. By order of satisfaction, these factors are interaction, policy offerings, billing and payment, price and claims. The insurance companies included in the study all showed improvements over the factors, most notably in the price aspect. Researchers say that policyholders have showed increased satisfaction with the price factors of their insurance policies, pushing up the price aspect 32 points this year.
Some 42 percent of respondents also reported lower premiums this year as compared to the previous year without the policyholder having to switch to other insurers. Insurance experts say that this indicates that providers are stepping up efforts to retain their customers.
Recent market trends have shown periodic declines in satisfaction especially after recession periods, analyst say. For instance, the U.S. saw declining satisfaction with car insurance firms shortly after the end of the 2001 to 2002 recessionary period as insurers raised rates. Experts caution that the same can also happen by 2010 or 2011 as the economy improves.
Researchers of J.D. Power and Associates say that history is likely to repeat itself and a decline in satisfaction is expected. However, they add, the market upheaval is creating new opportunities for car owners to make the most of their hard-earned money.
Experts also recommend insurers engaging policyholders in dialogue to avoid a future drop in satisfaction. Analysts say that insurance companies must discuss alternatives or options with clients if their premiums increase more than $100. This would eventually result to higher customer satisfaction.