Amid fears of a recession, the mortgage crisis and high premiums, public approval of the finance and insurance sector dropped in 2007, a University of Michigan study indicates.

The university’s American Customer Satisfaction Index showed a decline for financial services of 0.7% from 2006, to 75.5, a retreat from gains last year that put the sector at its highest level since 1994. The index is based on a 100-point scale.

For life insurers, satisfaction dropped 1.3%, from 79 in 2006 to 78 at the end of last year, reports the university, Ann Arbor.

Health insurers’ satisfaction score fell from 72 to 71, a 1.4% decline. Premiums and copays for health care policies have risen while fewer employers are providing group health coverage, the report points out.

In comparison, the property and casualty insurance industry improved 2.6% to 80, due at least partly to rate cuts, according to the report.

For all industries, the index declined from 74.4 in 2006 to 74.2 last year, a 0.3% drop.