Occasionally we get some information that allows us to toot our own industry horn. That happened last week when an industry magazine ran a piece on a J.D. Power and Associates study that suggested insurance clients had a high degree of satisfaction with their experience in settling property claims. These high satisfaction numbers were produced following two really bad years for disaster claims; their survey was based on more than 5,500 responses from homeowners insurance customers who filed a property claim between May 2011 and January 2013.
Founded in 1968, J. D. Power has become a respected voice for the consumer in the last several decades, offering information on product quality in manufacturing industries and customer satisfaction in service industries. They survey literally millions of consumers annually to gather insight into industries from automotive and telecommunications to financial services, insurance and healthcare.
When we looked directly at the J. D. Power study, we found even more interesting information. It appears about 8 percent of homeowners in the United States filed a property insurance claim. These may be odd years because of the disastrous storm related claims but it certainly provides an indication of how the severe weather and events like wildfires is affecting claims. The average settlement amount in the 2013 portion of the study – which included Hurricane Sandy – was $8,517; the average out-of-pocket expenses paid by homeowners also nearly doubled to $3,888 between 2012 and 2013.
The findings in this study pretty much mirrored an earlier J. D. Power study of claims satisfaction in the auto insurance. It also showed that satisfaction was remaining high even as out-of-pocket expenses are going up. The study indicated that the industry was doing a good job not only in the customer service area, but in managing the expectations of clients in the claims situation.
Another thing we appreciated from the study was that it provided support for the importance of independent agencies like Homer Smith Insurance in helping the industry maintain these satisfaction levels. According to J. D. Power, “satisfaction is 50 points higher among customers who file a claim through their agent, than among those who file a claim through direct channels.”
Finally, J.D. Power and Associates offered some tips for homeowners insurance customers in their press release.
* “Be sure your homeowners policy provides sufficient coverage for your property. Consider not just the replacement value of your home, but of its contents, including jewelry, art, collectibles, electronics and other expensive items.
* Have your valuables appraised, photographed and declared on your policy. Keep a record of what you have done to protect them from theft or damage. …
* Keep an inventory of your personal property, include model and serial numbers, at least of your most expensive items. Keep a copy of this document in a safety deposit box at your bank, and give a copy to your insurer. If you’ve suffered property damage, photograph the situation as soon as possible, before cleanup or restoration has begun…. “
Of course, if you have been reading our blog here at HSI, you already knew that.