Homeowner insurance satisfaction drops

Satisfaction among claimants has dropped in the past year.

A recent survey by J.D. Power indicated that customer satisfaction with their homeowner policies has slipped in the past year. In their  survey of over 5,700 claimants in 2014 and 2015, the average satisfaction rating dipped. The 2014 average rating was 851 in 2014, but that score dropped to 846 in 2015. The scores were based on a scale of 1,000 points.

 J.D. Power's survey included customers who have filed a number of claims in the time period, including first notice of loss, settlement, estimation process, repair process or service interaction. Categories that suffered the most were local agent, claims professional and service interaction. Amica Mutual customers ranked their provider the best, with an average score of 898. 

Customer service vs. price reduction
A number of factors have contributed to this decreased customer satisfaction. The most common factor was an industry-wide shift away from customer satisfaction towards the reduction of prices, according to Claims Journal. While the majority of customers likely appreciate the reduced prices, those who actually filed claims were are less than satisfied with the service. 

Primary causes
Younger property claimants factored into the rating because they traditionally seek more assistance. Since younger homeowners are new to the process, they tend to have more questions about the services. The lower scores indicate that these younger claimants did not receive proper attention. The most common claims in the past year were non-weather water claims. Customer satisfaction with the handling of these claims has declined 19 points, indicating claimants did not receive sufficient service. 

Weather events have also led to a number of unsatisfied customers. In addition to the weather itself, a number of providers have been less responsive. Severe weather in the northeast and midwest were met with unsatisfactory customer service, in many incidents. According to J.D. Power's survey, only 42 percent of customers reported that their insurer was available immediately when a disaster struck. Overall responsiveness has been down.

It can be difficult to manage on the insurer's side: While they try to have enough customer service representative on hand to deal with the spike in claims in the event of an emergency, at times it's challenging to ramp up with additional trained employees quickly enough. Insurers need to juggle responsiveness with cost effectiveness and find the balance that will keep customers satisfied while also keeping rates affordable. 

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