Clean sweep for mutuals in 2021 US auto insurer rankings

21 June 2021


Mutual insurance companies were top ranked in terms of the highest customer satisfaction among auto insurers across all 11 regions of the USA in the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Auto Insurance Study.

The annual survey from global data and analytics company J.D. Power, now in its 22nd year, examines customer satisfaction in five factors (in alphabetical order): billing process and policy information; claims; interaction; policy offerings; and price. The study is based on responses from 38,938 auto insurance customers and was fielded in February-March 2021.

The 2021 study found that the auto insurance industry voluntarily returned more than USD 18 billion in auto insurance premiums to customers in 2020 to address the sharp decline in miles driven during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the magnitude of this historic relief effort, overall customer satisfaction with auto insurers is flat, following four consecutive years of improvement.

The study measures customer satisfaction with auto insurance in 11 geographic regions. Mutual and member-owned insurers were the highest-ranking auto insurers in each region.

ICMIF members Shelter Insurance and Wawanesa Insurance were the highest ranked auto insurers in the Central and California regions respectively.

The highest-ranked insurer and scores, by region, are as follows:

California: Wawanesa Insurance (853) (for a second consecutive year)
Central: Shelter Insurance (856)
Florida: State Farm (848)
Mid-Atlantic: NJM Insurance Co. (867)
New England: Amica Mutual (867) (for a ninth consecutive year)
New York: State Farm (859) (for a second consecutive year)
North Central: Erie Insurance (857)
Northwest: State Farm (844)
Southeast: Farm Bureau Insurance – Tennessee (883) (for a 10th consecutive year)
Southwest: American Family (850) (for a second consecutive year)
Texas: Texas Farm Bureau (850) (for a 10th consecutive year)

ICMIF members Shelter and Wawanesa top regional rankings

Shelter Insurance ranked highest in customer satisfaction among auto insurers in the Central Region – the fourth time Shelter has received this honour (2016, 2018, 2019 and 2021). Shelter scored well across all the factors and was ranked first in Price, as well as Billing Process and Policy Information.

“To be recognised by J.D. Power with this award once was amazing, but now it’s the fourth time, which is humbling, to say the least,” said Matt Moore, CEO of the Shelter Insurance Companies. “It’s a testament to our agents and employees living one of our core beliefs, and that’s to provide top-notch service, day in and day out.”

“We appreciate our employees and agents whose hard work and focus have made this award possible,” said Randa Rawlins, President of the Shelter Insurance Companies. “We are also grateful to our customers who continue to place their trust in us. We continually set high expectations for ourselves to provide the best service.”

Wawanesa Insurance earned the highest customer satisfaction ranking of Californian auto insurers for the second consecutive year. Its score of 853 (on a 1,000-point scale) is 37 points higher than the regional average. Wawanesa achieved the top position for customer satisfaction across all five factors of Price, Claims, Policy Offerings, Policy Information, and Interaction in the California Region.

Wawanesa Insurance is the US division of Canadian-based Wawanesa Mutual Insurance, a diversified North American insurer that serves more than two million policyholders in Canada and the United States. Wawanesa Insurance currently offers auto and renters insurance in California and Oregon and has been serving auto and property customers in California since 1975.

“This year especially, with all of the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to make sure every interaction our customers have with us helps to make their lives easier, not harder,” stated Chris Henn, President, Wawanesa Insurance. “It is an honour to win this award for the second year in a row, and to place first across all five areas of the J.D. Power study in the California Region. I am grateful to our employees for their dedication to our customers and for living our values in everything we do.”

Henn added, “We have worked hard to listen to our customers and to put their needs first. Winning first place in the areas of Price and Claims suggests we are providing a high level of service when and where it matters most to our customers, and doing so at a price people think is fair.”

Key findings of the 2021 study

  • Overall satisfaction stagnates: Overall customer satisfaction with auto insurance providers is 835 (on a 1,000-point scale) this year, unchanged from a year ago. This is the first time since 2017 that auto insurance customer satisfaction has not improved year over year.
  • Insurers miss the mark in communication: While price is the lowest-scoring factor in the study, it has seen the greatest improvement year over year. This improvement is overshadowed by significant declines in satisfaction with interaction. Satisfaction with the assisted online channel, which is comprised of chat and e-mail functions, declines 12 points from a year ago, with decreases also seen in contact center (-5), website (-3) and local agent (-1).
  • Customer awareness of COVID-19 relief efforts boosts brand perception: As of March 2021, just 52% of auto insurance customers were aware of their insurer’s COVID-19 premium relief efforts. Overall brand impressions are significantly higher among customers who were aware of these relief efforts, which was also reflected in their intent to renew their policy.
  • Pandemic as catalyst to telematics growth: More than one-third (34%) of auto insurance customers say they are willing to try usage-based insurance (UBI), which uses telematics technology to track customer driving patterns and includes discounts based on safe driving and fewer miles driven. Currently, 16% of customers say they are already using the technology, which is double the volume seen just five years ago and is the largest year-over-year increase to date.
  • Ready to switch at hint of a premium increase: Nearly half (45%) of auto insurance customers say they would switch if they could receive a savings of USD 200 or less. Of those who recently switched due to a premium increase, 57% did so for increases of USD 200 or less.

For member-only strategic content on the cooperative/mutual insurance sector, ICMIF members have exclusive access to a range of online resources through the ICMIF Knowledge Hub.

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