Car insurance companies are getting the hang of high technology,
According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2013 U.S. Auto Claims
Satisfaction Study, released Thursday, overall satisfaction among
customers who filed claims increased over the last year, largely
because insurers are using high-tech methods to communicate and pay
But the survey found that repairs are taking longer to complete
and are less likely to be done correctly. (See "
Car accidents: What you need to know
The customer-service giant asked 3,000 claimants to rate their
satisfaction on a number of items related to insurance claims, such
as interaction with the company, the appraisal and repair
processes, and settlement. Overall satisfaction increased six
points to 861 on a 1,000-point scale, and satisfaction with claims
professionals has reached an all-time high, the survey found.
Proactive insurers keep drivers happy, says Mark Garrett,
research director at J.D. Power and Associates. "Claims
professionals are keeping customers informed of the claim progress
at higher rates than in the past."
A process once dominated by phone calls is now complemented by
e-mail and online status updates, technologies that showed a steady
increase in use over the last 12 months, Garrett says.
Settlement satisfaction saw a big increase, jumping 11 points.
Electronic payments put settlements into customers' hands more
quickly. Days required to pay a claim fell from 16.4 in 2011 to
13.9 in 2012. Total loss claims saw the biggest improvement, with
the average dropping 5.1 days to 18.5 while repairable claims were
settled 1.3 days faster.
Faster checks are great, but the study found that the perceived
fairness of the settlement carries almost equal weight. (See "
What you need to know about insurance claims
While insurers improved their standing with customers, repair
shops are falling behind. The study found that the average cycle
time for repairs increased 1.2 days to 13.5. In addition to an
increase in repair time, satisfaction with the repair process
dropped two points to 862. Failure to fix the vehicle right the
first time is largely responsible for the drop in satisfaction,
with only 89 percent of repaired vehicles passing this test,
compared to 91 percent in 2011.
Improper repairs had a big effect on satisfaction, says Jeremy
Bowler, senior director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power and
Associates. "Failure to repair a vehicle correctly is critical to
the customer experience," he says. "Average satisfaction scores
tumble over 100 points for those who had to bring their vehicle
back for repeat repairs."