According to data from ACSI LLC, P&C insurers are improving customer satisfaction, while life insurers are steady and health insurers are slightly declining. For its American Customer Satisfaction Index, ACSI annually conducts interviews with approximately 70,000 consumers and plugs the information into an econometric model to measure satisfaction with a wide range of industries, products and large companies. The results are released on a monthly basis, with all measures reported using a scale of 0 to 100, and this month it was the insurance industry’s turn.

Previous ACSIs show that customer satisfaction with life and property/casualty insurance is higher than with health insurance, which ACSI attributes to lower premiums and fewer interactions. The same holds true for 2011. Life insurance is unchanged with an ACSI score of 80, property/casualty gains 3.8% to reach 83 and health insurance fell 1.4% to an ACSI score of 72.

The index includes aggregates of smaller insurers in each line and the group, on average, has higher scores than the individual larger insurers. The aggregated small life insurers received a score of 82. Small P&C insurers’ score was up 4% (83) from 2010, while small health insurers saw a 1-% decrease to 75.

Northwestern Mutual received the highest score, 81 (+1%), among the life insurers indexed, followed by New York Life, gaining 3% to 80, and Prudential, up 3% to 79. MetLife rounds out the category with a score of 77, and is the only major life insurer to decline (-1%).

The top spot among large P&C insurers belongs to State Farm, scoring 82 for a third consecutive year. Scores for GEICO (81), Progressive (79) and Allstate (78) also remain the same as 2010. The only insurer to see an improvement was Farmers Group, which scored 79, a 4-% improvement from 2010.

The health insurance index tells a different story — falling scores — which ACSI attributes to rising costs. “Over the past decade, the cost of family coverage provided through an employer has nearly doubled,” the report states. “Just over the past year, the average cost for health insurance premiums is up 9-%, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Because of the weak economy, a fragile — albeit improving — labor market, and stagnating wages, price hikes of this magnitude are not helpful in creating satisfied customers.”

Despite this, some large health insurers saw higher scores than 2010. WellPoint gained 7 percentage points from last year, to put it at 74. ACSI says UnitedHealth’s score has fluctuated over the past three years, rising sharply in 2009, then falling just as steeply in 2010 before recovering this year with an upturn of 11% to tie the industry average at 72. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association fell 3% to 68 and Aetna fell 1% to 67.

— Carrie Burns writes for Insurance Networking News, a SourceMedia publication.


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