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A report by J.D. Power and Associates tracks customer satisfaction rates for the 2009 year, measuring customer satisfaction with car insurance companies. This study takes a look at several car insurance companies, ranking each one in five areas of customer satisfaction. According to the 2009 National Auto Insurance Study, overall customer satisfaction with car insurance companies rose 14 points, averaging 801 on a 1000 point scale. The reason for this rise in customer satisfaction may have much to do with lower insurance premiums – 42 percent of customers in 2009 saw decreases in their premiums without having to switch to another car insurance company, leading to higher customer satisfaction. As a result, overall customer satisfaction in the area of price rose by 32 points from the previous year.

While customer satisfaction rates have risen so far this year, it appears that the current trend may not last into 2010 and 2011, especially in the face of a less-than-favorable economic climate. The current state of the economy is prompting car insurance companies to reevaluate their current rate structures. Such reevaluations may result in increased rates for consumers. As signs of rising insurance rates continue to appear, customer satisfaction rates may decline steadily for the next couple of years.

Even when dealing with a recessionary period, insurance quotes companies can take steps to insure that their customers are sufficiently satisfied with their level of service. One of these steps involves talking with customers about possible rate increases prior to their policy renewal, as well as discussing possible steps that could be taken in order to mitigate higher rates, including changes in coverage and policy options. As the report notes, customers who are notified in advance about these rate increases are more satisfied with the level of service provided by their insurer than those who were not notified about increases in their insurance rates.

Lowered premiums were not the only factor for higher overall customer satisfaction. Customer service outside of claims was also responsible for the rise in overall customer satisfaction. Customers’ experiences with insurance quotes from call centers significantly improved from 2008, with agency insurers holding only a slight advantage in customer service. Historical trends have seen agency insurers hold a far larger advantage in customer service due to the more personal experience with their customers, as opposed to the less-direct methods offered by direct insurers. The improvements made by direct insurers to their websites and call centers are largely responsible for the rise in customer satisfaction.

32 insurance companies were ranked in these five areas of customer satisfaction. One company that has shown consistent favorable rankings was Amica Mutual, which has shown excellent customer satisfaction rankings for the 10th consecutive year. Amica Mutual secured top rankings in all five areas of customer satisfaction. Meanwhile, AIG ranked the lowest for overall customer satisfaction. Other companies with high customer satisfaction rates include State Farm, Auto-Owners and Erie Insurance. These rankings did not include car insurance companies with strictly limited memberships such as USAA, an insurance provider with membership limited to U.S. military personnel and their families.