Agents Provide Homeowners Insurance Claimants with a Better Experience
Homeowners insuranceÂ customers are happiest with their claims filing experience when they work directly with an agent, as opposed to using a direct channel to file a claim, according to a new study conducted by J.D. Power and Associates.
While the number of customers choosing to file under direct channels has increased over the past year, most are still happiest with the hands-on experience of filingÂ insurance claimsÂ with an agent.
Homeowners Insurance Companies Applauded for Claims Handling
The J.D. Power and Associates 2013 Property Claims Satisfaction Study examined the satisfaction ratings of homeowners insurance claimants. The study found that homeowners insurance companies received high marks for claims handling, even as they have faced two of the heaviest years for claims.
Overall satisfaction for home insurers in the study was 832 on a 1,000-point scale. This represented quite an increase over 823 points in 2011 and 811 points in 2010.
Settlement amounts may have played a role in customer satisfaction. According to the study, the average settlement amount for 2013 is $8,517, which was up from $7,937 in 2012. The amount to cover repairs in 2013 also went up to $7,844 in 2013 from $7,151 in 2012.
What’s interesting is that average out-of-pocket expenses paid by homeowners nearly doubled in one year to $3,888 in 2013 from $1,945 in 2012, yet customers were still pleased overall with the claims experience.
Filing Insurance Claims with Agents Offers Better Experience
J.D. Power and Associates discovered a difference in customer satisfaction between individuals who filedÂ insurance claimsÂ with an insurance agent and individuals who filed through direct channels like customer service representatives or insurance websites. In fact, satisfaction was 50 points higher for individuals who filed with an agent.
Among customers who said they filed with an agent, 72 percent said their agent helped put them at ease, while just 56 percent who filed direct said their call center representative did the same.
Despite typically receiving a better experience from agents, 68 percent of customers filed their recent homeowners claims through direct channels, which is a significant increase from 57 percent the year prior.
Experts say customers are shifting toward using direct channels, partially due to greater convenience. Unfortunately, the new report reveals that they may not receive the same experience as customers who work with agents one on one.
The good news is some direct insurance companies are making adjustments to ensure their call center representatives come close to replicating the personal relationship offered by homeowners insurance agents.
(Image courtesy of Ambro /Â FreeDigitalPhotos.net)