Homeowners’ and Renters’ Insurance Under Microscope for Customer Satisfaction

In the wake of devastating Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, customer satisfaction among U.S. homeowners and renters’ insurance will be squarely under a microscope the rest of this year and beyond.

According to the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Home Insurance Study released Monday, the ability of insurers to maintain these high levels of customer satisfaction will be tested in the coming months amid the historic property losses and profit strains created by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

“Although property insurers have made great strides in overall customer satisfaction over the past several years, the areas where they consistently see the lowest satisfaction scores are price and direct customer service,” said Greg Hoeg, vice president of U.S. Insurance Operations at J.D. Power. “Those two areas, in particular, will be under enormous stress as insurers address losses from the recent hurricanes.”

What’s more, the study says that these challenges are amplified by the threat of disruption from a new crop of emerging “insurtech” innovators coming to market with lower premiums and state-of-the-art self-service web and mobile customer service technologies.

“However, traditional service providers are fighting back by partnering with smart home assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home,” the study notes. “When used, these products increase customer engagement and lead to higher satisfaction by increasing awareness of best practices insurers execute but have low awareness due to limited interactions throughout the year.”

Here are some key study findings:

Record-high customer satisfaction among homeowners and renters: Overall customer satisfaction scores have reached an all-time high of 808 (on a 1,000-point scale) among homeowners and 834 among renters, driven by improvements in policy offerings.

Price and direct customer service interactions remain problem spots: Despite overall rising customer satisfaction scores, the two lowest-performing factors in the customer experience are price and direct interactions with insurance companies via call center, website or assisted online channels. However, multichannel interactions that include direct and live channels throughout the year produce the highest levels of customer satisfaction.

Many don't completely understand policies and coverage: Overall satisfaction among home insurance customers who understand their policy and the details of what it covers is 92 points higher than among those who say they do not fully understand their coverage. Despite this huge effect on satisfaction, just 48 percent of customers say they completely understand their policy.

Insurtech innovators pose growing threat: Startup insurance industry innovators have raised more than $7.1 billion globally since 2012 to carve out a slice of the home insurance marketplace by offering lower premiums and technologically advanced self-service interactions. While overall awareness of these innovators is still low at just 5 percent of all property customers, awareness among Millennial1 customers is more than double that rate (11 percent). Among Millennials who are aware of these start-up businesses, nearly 30 percent say they “definitely will” or “probably will” purchase from one in the future.

Amica Mutual ranks highest in the homeowners’ insurance segment for a 16th consecutive year, with a score of 866. Shelter and COUNTRY Financial rank second and third with scores of 850 and 839, respectively.

Erie Insurance ranks highest in the renters’ insurance segment with a score of 862. American Family ranks second with a score of 844. State Farm ranks third with a score of 833.

The U.S. Home Insurance Study examines overall customer satisfaction with two distinct personal insurance product lines: Homeowners and renters. Satisfaction in the homeowners and renters’ insurance segments is measured by examining five factors: interaction; policy offerings; price; billing process and policy information; and claims. Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale.

The study is based on responses from 15,909 online interviews conducted in June-July 2017.

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