As 2013 drew to a close, the ACSI issued its annual report on the Finance and Insurance sector, which showed across-the-board gains for three categories of insurance. Top improvement went to property and casualty insurance, up 3.8% to an ACSI benchmark of 81. This dovetails with the P/C insurance industry reporting its “best year since the financial crisis;” nevertheless, industry experts anticipate “more headwinds” going into 2014.
Health insurers face even greater challenges ahead, as the marketplace undergoes an expansion of historic proportions with the advent of the Affordable Care Act. Like P/C insurers, health insurers did a better job of satisfying customers, but with a modest gain of 1.4% to a much lower ACSI score of 73. Policyholder satisfaction for life insurers hit the high mark of 83, but the industry’s 2.5% gain came mainly from an upswing with smaller companies, who continue to outperform the larger carriers.
Looking at what each group does best, P/C policyholders respond positively to their local agents—giving them strong ratings of 87 for courtesy and helpfulness with policy purchases and 85 for claims handling. On the other hand, discounts and rewards are somewhat lacking (77), as customers seek better value from industry pricing. Life insurers are efficient when it comes to policy approval (87), but fall even further behind on discounting or bundling policies (74). For health insurance, policyholders are happy with their access to primary care doctors (82), but crave more plan choice (71)—a factor that may be as much about the limits of employer plans as it is about the providers themselves.
Billing, timeliness, and website quality are key elements that impact the policyholder experience for all insurance types. According to customers, P/C insurers excel when it comes to understandable billing statements (85) whereas health insurers do not (75). Given the complexity of billing medical procedures and calculating deductibles and copays, this is hardly surprising. Nevertheless, this clearly is an area where companies could gain an advantage by developing more user-friendly processes.
P/C insurers also are adept at offering high quality, multichannel solutions for communicating about policies and claims. The industry’s website satisfaction (83) and call center satisfaction (81) are much higher than the national ACSI averages of 78 and 74, respectively. For life insurers, website satisfaction also is above average (81). Across multiple channels, health insurers lag behind, just as they do for billing statement clarity, with website satisfaction at 73 and call center satisfaction at 72.