Multiline carriers nabbed the two top spots in a recent customer satisfaction survey of life insurers.
The “J.D. Power 2016 Life Insurance Study,” released today, ranks State Farm and Nationwide as, respectively, the No. 1 and No. 2 carriers in customer satisfaction. State Farm received an “Overall Customer Satisfaction Index Score” of 828, with Nationwide trailing at 806, on a 1,000-point scale.
The study examines the “needs and expectations” of life insurance customers, and explores how the insurance carriers can improve “customer satisfaction and advocacy.” Now in its third year, the report measures individual life insurance customer satisfaction with their insurer based on performance in four factors (in order of importance):
- Policy offerings;
- Annual statement and billing; and
The report is a sequel to a 2014 J.D. Power study, which concluded that individual customers of life insurers are “the least satisfied customers” of all insurance and financial service providers benchmarked by the market research firm.
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“This disparity provides life insurance carriers with an opportunity to make process improvements that better reflect the preferences of current customers and encourage life policy shoppers to consider and ultimately select their brand,” J.D. Power states in a summary of its 2016 study. The report adds that, since 2014, carriers have intensified efforts to fufill expectations of existing customers and attract new ones.
In the aggregate, gains have been modest: life insurers’ overall score on J.D. Power’s 1,000-point scale rose one point between 2015 and 2016. However, customer satisfaction with their “interactions” with life insurers’ jumped 31 points year-over-year to 839.
J.D. Power credits the increase to improvements in the insurers’ digital channels. More than a quarter (27 percent) of customers now communicate with their insurer via digital channels, up from 21 percent from 2015.
The upward trend is most pronounced among baby boomers: One-third (33 percent) of them have submitted an application for life insurance online. That compares to only a quarter of Gen Y applicants.
For both demographic groups, most applications are still done the old-fashioned way: Sixty percent of millennials and 43 percent of boomers have submitted an application in-person.
“Life insurers are trying to compete in a stagnant pricing market by focusing on communicating with their customers,” said J.D. Power Vice President of U.S. Insurance Operations Greg Hoeg in a press statement. “They’re getting more engaged, which is much to the delight of their customers.”
“The challenge for insurers is to understand what, and how often, to communicate,” he added. “It’s not as easy as assuming the younger generations want to be self-sufficient and only use digital channels or that older generations only want to communicate by talking with another person.”