Ask Stacy: Insurance Price Is Important, but What About Company Quality?

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The internet is full of tips about lowering the cost of insurance. But how about some advice on getting what you pay for?

Life in America requires insurance — lots of it.

Between car, home, health, life and disability, it’s easy to spend thousands on insurance.

In my case, for example, a quick mental tally is $11,000 annually. That’s high, especially when you consider my wife’s health insurance is paid by her employer, we have high deductibles on all our policies, don’t drive expensive cars, don’t have kids and don’t have life or disability insurance. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Cars: $2,200
  • Health: $4,800
  • Home: $5,000

(By the way, lest you think my home insurance bill indicates a mansion, we live near the Florida coast. Although our home is modest, the annual premiums for wind and flood insurance alone are $3,000.)

No matter what you pay for insurance, odds are you think it’s too much. I certainly do. That’s why we do so many stories featuring tips to lower the cost. One thing we rarely address, however, is company quality. And it’s important. After all, the only thing worse than paying a ton for coverage is paying a ton for bad, incompetent or stingy coverage.

Which brings us to today’s question:

Good morning,
I have been inspired to do a little bit of comparison shopping for insurance after reading your article “9 Ways to Drive Down Your Auto Insurance Rates.” But since I bundle my auto, motorcycle and homeowners insurance to get a sizable discount, I will be likely shopping for all three.

To keep it short, my question is: Is there a way to find customer satisfaction information about the payout of homeowner insurance claims? I want to save money, but not at the cost of having a lengthy battle with my insurer to replace my belongings in the case of a loss.

Thank you,
Mariana

Excellent question, Mariana. I’ve done some research, and here’s what I found.

Insurance company satisfaction surveys

When I did a search for “insurance company satisfaction,” one of the first sites to come up was Insure.com — the company that sponsors our insurance search tool.

Every year they do a “People’s Choice” customer satisfaction survey that measures customer satisfaction for things like claims processing and customer service. They get their results by surveying more than 5,600 insurance customers nationwide.

You can read the latest results here, but to save some time, I’ll boil it down for you. Here are the top three companies in each category, from first to third:

  • Top homeowners providers: USAA, Chubb, Allstate
  • Top car insurance providers: USAA, Auto Club of Southern California, CSAA Insurance Group
  • Top health insurance providers: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, EmblemHealth
  • Top life insurance providers: Voya, State Farm, John Hancock Life

One potential weakness of this survey? Insure.com only includes the 20 largest companies (by market share) in each category. That means that a smaller company might be great, but not show up.

Another source for satisfaction information is J.D. Power and Associates. You can see their quality ratings for different kinds of insurance here. These surveys measure specifically what Mariana asked: how satisfied customers were with the payout of claims, as well as overall satisfaction and other benchmarks. Here’s how they describe their ratings:

All insurance ratings are based on the opinions of a representative sample of consumers who have used or owned the product or service being rated and are therefore indicative of a typical buying experience.

Their top performer for 2016 in the car insurance category was The Hartford. The winner in homeowners was Amica.

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