Recent research shows that overall customer satisfaction with the experience of filing property claims for their home insurance remains high. This is true even after two of the worst years for catastrophic events, which left a large number of American homeowners with significant damages. The study has been conducted every year since 2008 and examines settlements, first loss notices, estimations, service interactions and the process of repairs. From 2010 to 2013, the overall satisfaction rating of claimants increased from 818 to 832 out of 1,000.
The study also found that the number of customers filing through direct channels has increased steadily over the years. For claimants who file using their agents, the satisfaction rating is about 50 points higher than it is for those who file claims directly. Average settlement numbers have also risen. They were up to about $8,500 in 2013 from approximately $7,940 in 2012. The average increase to cover home contents increases by about $250 annually. However, the average expenses paid upfront by homeowners was up to more than $3,800 in 2013 from about $1,950 in 2012.
While it is true that homeowners have been paying more for damages, experts are still pleased to see that satisfaction rates are climbing. They believe this shows how diligent the insurance industry is at personalizing service and handling claims well. However, the satisfaction for those who file directly is not as high as experts would like. They say that call center experiences have been negative for many people. When homeowners are already experiencing hardships related to their properties being destroyed, they find it hard to receive the personalized care they need from call center representatives who are not completely familiar with their situations. However, most home insurance policyholders who deal with their personal agents are able to receive this satisfaction. More than 70 percent of survey respondents who filed with their agents said they felt at ease. However, slightly more than 55 percent who filed directly said they felt at ease with call center representatives.
Experts say that the insurance industry is moving toward direct channels. They hope to raise the satisfaction ratings of consumers by ensuring call center representatives are trained better and are able to help homeowners through the claims process more efficiently. There are also several things homeowners can do to make their experiences more positive. The following are helpful suggestions:
– Ensure the policy offers adequate protection for all property. Do not only consider the home’s replacement value, but consider the contents of the home. This includes art, electronics, jewelry and other expensive items.
– Keep an inventory of all items in the home, and update the inventory as new items are added or old ones are discarded. Write down serial numbers, purchase dates and other important details. Keep receipts in a safe place where they will not be damaged by fire or water. If possible, keep copies of these records in a safety deposit box, and send copies of all value-related documents to an insurer. When an adjuster arrives, this will make it easier to determine the correct values for all items.
– Have all valuable items appraised. Take photographs of any valuable belongings, and make sure they are declared specifically on a policy. If any special measures have been taken to protect them from theft or damage, write these steps down.
Experiencing home damage can be frustrating and even devastating. Homeowners can protect themselves, but it is important to make sure all questions are answered. The best way to find answers to any questions is to discuss concerns with an agent.