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Amid a second straight year of stagnant auto insurance shopping activity and modest rate increases, auto insurance companies have grown increasingly reliant on great customer service, personalized advice and strong agents to win over their customers, according to the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study.
With average premiums increasing by a modest 2-3 percent annually, new insurance shopping rates flat and new customer acquisition rates unchanged, auto insurers are faced with the challenge of resisting commoditization, he report says.
The study finds that as auto insurers struggle to compete on price, they are being forced to differentiate based on factors such as brand reputation, agent recommendations, product and service to drive new business sales.
Communication remains critical, as the key performance indicator (KPI) that has the greatest influence on customer satisfaction in this year’s study is ensuring that customers completely understand their coverage.
“The auto insurance industry is at an inflection point where customer patterns and behaviors are on the verge of shifting,” said Greg Hoeg, vice president of U.S. insurance operations at J.D. Power. “To survive this period of price stagnation, insurers must develop strategies to be able to better differentiate not just to acquire new customers, but also to acquire customers with desirable risk profiles in order to maintain profitability.”
Key findings of the 2017 study include:
In the JD Power customer satisfaction rankings, Erie Insurance came in highest among auto insurers in providing a satisfying purchase experience, with a score of 879. This marks the fifth consecutive year Erie Insurance has ranked highest in the study. American Family ranks second (869); The Hartford third (861); Automobile Club Group fourth (852); and Amica Mutual fifth (850).
The study is based on responses from more than 16,400 shoppers who requested an auto insurance price quote from at least one competitive insurer in the past nine months and includes more than 50,000 unique customer evaluations of insurers. The study was fielded in April, July and October 2016 and January 2017.