Homeowners insurance satisfaction jumps for first time in four years

Even though millions of people’s homes were left in tatters after experiencing violent weather disasters last year, a considerable percentage of them are content with the home insurance claims process, a new report reveals.

Satisfaction rises 10 points among claimants

According to J.D. Power and Associates’ 2012 U.S. Property Claims Satisfaction Study*, overall satisfaction property owners had with the insurance claims experience grew to 833 on a 1,000-point scale — the first time it’s done so in four years — jumping 10 points from the previous year. J.D. Power said the rise is notable, as 14 of the 99 weather-related disasters resulted in more than $1 billion in damages each, according to statistics gathered by the Insurance Information Institute.

Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the J.D. Power and Associates’ insurance practice, said the findings from the report came as a pleasant surprise.

“A period of tremendous volatility in the industry, caused by a large number of devastating storms, led us to anticipate that satisfaction would decline, but that clearly was not the case,” said Bowler. “The industry as a whole did well in not only handling the day-to-day claims, but also the large volume of claims associated with those major events.”

One-third of claims were related to high winds

The study also looked at the types of weather-related disasters homeowners experienced in the study period. High-wind claims — which include tornado and hurricane damage — comprised approximately one-third of all property claims, up 21 percent from the previous study.

While claims satisfaction was up overall, sentiment tended to vary when assessing it by regions. For instance, satisfaction in the South Atlantic and Northeast was high, as sentiment improved 36 and 18 points, respectively, when contrasted with the 2011 study. However, in the East North Central segment of the country, satisfaction tumbled 14 points.

Bowler noted that insurers can help drive favorable sentiment based on how proactive and expeditious they are with the claims process.

“The way in which carriers ramp up for a major natural catastrophe can have a major impact on customer satisfaction,” said Bowler. “Having a plan in place to handle the increased volume of claims helps carriers, but so does having time to prepare for an oncoming storm.”

Satisfaction influenced customers' tendencies to recommend or avoid insurer

The study also found that how positively insurance customers rank the claims experience tends to influence whether they would recommend them to their friends. For example, among claimants who professed to be “highly satisfied” with the claims process, 84 percent said they would “definitely” advise their friends to seek coverage from their insurer. On the other hand, among claimants who weren’t pleased with the process, just 12 percent said they’d still recommend them.  

*according to J.D. Power and Associates on April 2, 2012
via Peter Montanez

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