Use of Call Centers Up, Agents Down, According to New Study
February 2, 2012

by Penny Stacey,

The way in which consumers contact their insurance companies has seen a major shift in recent years, according to the latest Auto Insurance Claims Satisfaction Study conducted by J.D. Power and associates. The study reports that several agency-based carriers are now encouraging customers to contact a call center, rather than their agent, to file a claim.

The study reports that satisfaction was found to be higher among those who filed claims directly with agents; those who filed claims directly with an agent rated the overall claims experience at a score of 886 of 1,000 points during the fourth quarter of 2011, compared with an average score of 849 among those who utilized a call center for the same quarter, according to JD Power.

“Not all customers want to work with an agent; some just want to file their claim in the quickest and easiest way possible, whether that be through a call center or online,” says Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the insurance practice for the research firm of this finding. “There still is a significant share of customers who prefer the personal interaction they get with an agent because they value working directly with a person they know.”  

Overall, customer satisfaction remained somewhat flat for the year, compared to past studies, averaging 855 during the fourth quarter, compared with 854 during the third quarter and 848 during the second quarter, according to the study. Auto-Owners Insurance, based in Lansing, Mich., ranked highest for overall satisfaction in the survey, with a score of 890; this is its fourth consecutive year at the top of the rankings. State Farm followed with an overall score of 878, and Amica Mutual at third with 865. JD Power reports that New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co. and USAA also achieved high scores for customer satisfaction, but are not included in the overall rankings due to the limited markets in which they work; New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance provides policies only to New Jersey Business and Industry Association members, while USAA policies are only open to U.S. military personnel and their families.

The U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study is based on more than 3,500 responses from auto insurance customers who filed a claim within the past six months. The study excludes customers with glass-only claims. The study looks at the policyholder’s experience with first notice of loss report; service interaction, appraisal; repair process; rental experience; and settlement, when applicable. The first portion of this year’s study—being referred to as Wave I—was conducted in November and December 2011.

Are you seeing similar results in your market? Is the use of agents heading downward? Please email your thoughts to

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