Preparing for the Hard Market in Personal Auto Insurance

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1 Preparing for the Hard Market in Personal Auto Insurance A Management Discussion Based on the 2009 National Auto Insurance Study SM Financial Services and Insurance Research Group August 2009 A Global Marketing Information Company /081309

2 Table of Contents Introduction... 1 Economic Influence on Personal Auto Customer Satisfaction... 3 Customer Satisfaction and Financial Performance... 6 Retention... 7 Acquisition Costs Price Flexibility Summary J.D. Power and Associates, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

3 Introduction Since 2000, J.D. Power and Associates has annually surveyed personal auto insurance customers in the U.S. marketplace, benchmarking the strengths and weaknesses of the top insurers in terms of satisfying customer expectations. The J.D. Power and Associates 2009 National Auto Insurance Study SM profiles 34 insurance companies including seven companies added this year and provides the largest competitive analysis to date. The 2009 National Auto Insurance Study examines each touch point in the relationship between a customer and their auto insurer, and the extent to which each event impacts their overall impression of the company. The study further details the most critical service standards that drive higher satisfaction and subsequent policy retention, and profiles each insurer s relative strengths and weaknesses in meeting customer expectations in each of these critical service standards. However, customer expectations are frequently influenced by factors beyond the service provider s control. The recession that took hold of the U.S. economy last year has had a profound impact on consumer behaviors and expectations, as will be examined in this management discussion. Despite the impact the recession has had on the whole insurance industry, some insurers have more successfully capitalized on declining consumer confidence than others, as all strive to compete for market share through policy acquisition and retention. Despite the impact the recession has had on the whole insurance industry, some insurers have more successfully capitalized on declining consumer confidence than others, as all strive to compete for market share through policy acquisition and retention. During the past several years, many companies in the insurance industry have used J.D. Power and Associates data to benchmark their competitive performance in customer satisfaction and to better understand how improvements lead to stronger financial performance. This management discussion will first examine the impact of the recession on customer satisfaction and then provide an updated analysis of the financial benefits earned by those insurers who most satisfy their customers J.D. Power and Associates, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 1

4 Overall Customer Satisfaction Ratings Difference from 2008 Amica Mutual High Satisfaction State Farm Shelter Auto-Owners Erie Insurance N/A COUNTRY Automobile Club of Southern California American National Property & Casualty GEICO American Family Alfa Grange Industry Average N/A N/A 14 The Hartford Medium Satisfaction Farmers Progressive Allstate Nationwide Ameriprise 793 N/A California State Automobile Association Liberty Mutual MetLife Automobile Club Group 783 (5) Encompass The Hanover Esurance 776 N/A Safeco Mercury Low Satisfaction Travelers Commerce 21st Century GMAC N/A 7 (9) AIG 719 (24) USAA New Jersey Manufactures Insurance Co N/A Overall CSI Figure MD-1 Source: J.D. Power and Associates 2009 National Auto Insurance Study SM Total N= 22,426 Notes: 1, 2, 3, 6, 24, J.D. Power and Associates, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 2

5 Economic Influence on Personal Auto Customer Satisfaction Customer satisfaction with personal auto insurers has improved consistently since 2002, when the economy recovered from the previous decline. Breaking with this gradual improvement trend, the 2009 National Auto Insurance Study finds a significant 14 indexpoint increase in the level of satisfaction of auto insurance customers. In 2009, 18 of the 34 profiled insurers register statistically significant year-over-year-improvements. Just one AIG has significant erosion in customer satisfaction in (Figure MD-1) As shown in Figure MD-2, satisfaction with Price accounts for only 12.5% of a customer s overall impression of their insurer. However, the industry average score for this single factor jumped 32 index points compared to last year. In contrast, while personal interaction has the greatest impact on overall experience, it tends to be less influenced by external events and slower to change, gaining only 7 index points from last year. Between 2007 and 2008, a majority of customers reported their premium remained unchanged, and, on average, the annual auto premium decreased for just one in five customers. In 2009, the proportion of customers reporting premium decreases with the same insurer has almost doubled, to 42% industry wide. Those customers whose premium dropped tend to be more satisfied with their premium price than those whose premium remains unchanged or increased compared to last year. Customer satisfaction with personal auto insurers has improved consistently since 2002, when the economy recovered from the previous decline. The satisfaction benefits of lowered premiums on retained business are not equal across insurers. For some insurers, satisfaction with price has increased by 40 to 50 index points. Again, AIG is the only insurer for which satisfaction with Price declined year-overyear. As a group, Direct writers have always received higher price ratings than Agency companies. This year the average price satisfaction index for Direct-served customers is 780, compared to 731 among customers who are served by an Agency. Drivers of Customer Satisfaction Index Model 41.4% Interaction 58.3% Local Agent 20.2% Call Center 18.4% Policy Offerings 15.6% Web Site Overall Satisfaction Index 15.3% Billing and Payment 5.9% Automated Phone 12.5% Price 12.3% Claims Figure MD-2 Source: J.D. Power and Associates 2009 National Auto Insurance Study SM 2009 J.D. Power and Associates, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 3

6 Average CSI and % Change in GDP 1 1 % GDP Change Overall CSI 10% 8% 6% 4% 2% 0% -2% -4% -6% -8% Q 1 Q 2 Q 3 Q 4 Q 1 Q 2 Q 3 Q 4 Q 1 Q 2 Q 3 Q 4 Q 1 Q 2 Q 3 Q 4 Q 1 Q 2 Q 3 Q 4 Q 1 Q 2 Q 3 Q 4 Q 1 Q 2 Q 3 Q 4 Q 1 Q 2 Q 3 Q 4 Q 1 Q 2 Q 3 Q 4 Q 1 Q Figure MD-3 1 Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis Average CSI and % Change in Motor Vehicle Insurance CPI 2 10% 2 % Motor Veh. Ins. CPI Change Overall CSI 8% 6% 800 4% 2% 0% -2% -4% -6% -8% Q 1 Q 2 Q 3 Q 4 Q 1 Q 2 Q 3 Q 4 Q 1 Q 2 Q 3 Q 4 Q 1 Q 2 Q 3 Q 4 Q 1 Q 2 Q 3 Q 4 Q 1 Q 2 Q 3 Q 4 Q 1 Q 2 Q 3 Q 4 Q 1 Q 2 Q 3 Q 4 Q 1 Q 2 Q 3 Q 4 Q 1 Q Figure MD-4 2 Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Figure MD-3 illustrates the relationship between industry average customer satisfaction with personal auto insurance and Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Charting the percent change in GDP (based on chained 2000 dollars), customer satisfaction last declined in 2001 and 2002, during and shortly after the last U.S. down turn. Then, as now, a few key insurers sought to gain market share by keeping rates low. Figure MD-4, which charts the percentage of change in the Consumer Price Index for Motor Vehicle Insurance, shows that insurance rate increases lagged the downturn in the U.S. economy by approximately one year. Once the auto insurance market started to harden in 2001, customers who were already less confident because of the wider recession became significantly less satisfied with their pricier auto insurance policies and, consequently, their insurers overall J.D. Power and Associates, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 4

7 Presently, these same two graphs depict the early satisfaction felt by insurance customers whose premiums have been declining in contrast to higher gas and utility prices, increased food costs, and the heightened risk of underemployment in the current recession. However, there are early indications that, once again, the insurance market is starting to harden approximately a year after the onset of this current recession. If history again repeats itself, a decline in average customer satisfaction could be anticipated as a result. Yet, such upheaval in the marketplace creates opportunities for insurers to differentiate themselves and gain competitive advantage. In the 2002 National Auto Insurance Study, companies that competed mainly on price tended to suffer the greatest setback in satisfaction scores, with average declines of 40 to 45 index points. Meanwhile, those companies that tended to compete less on price and more on quality of services or through affinity relationships experienced more modest declines in overall satisfaction. By focusing on the quality of each service interaction, and proactively reaching out to discuss the need for rate increases, an insurer or their agency can often significantly mitigate the dissatisfaction customers may feel at renewal. Additionally, while engaging a customer prior to the renewal notice to offer to discuss a rate increase is just one of the critical service standards (also referred to as Key Performance Indicators or KPIs), identified in the 2009 National Auto Insurance Study, it serves to illustrate the tangible impact that focusing on these key behaviors can have on individual policies and, hence, an insurer s overall book. When customers are notified in advance of a rate increase greater than $100 and their insurer or agency offers to discuss the coverage or policy options available to them to perhaps mitigate the price change, those customers tend to be significantly more satisfied with their insurer overall. (Figure MD-5) However, there are early indications that, once again, the insurance market is starting to harden approximately a year after the onset of this current recession. Premium Change Discussion $100 or Less More than $100 $100 or Less More than $ % 80% 844* 837 Breakpoint KPI Overall CSI Index 60% 40% % 36% 56% % 700 % Premium 20% Increases 9% 15% 600 0% 500 Increased, Notified, Options Discussed Increased, Notified, No Options Discussed Increased, Never Notified Figure MD-5 Total N = 2,431 Survey Question: AIS Variable Notes: 4, 5*, J.D. Power and Associates, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 5

8 Customer Satisfaction and Financial Performance The 2009 National Auto Insurance Study explores the value of improved satisfaction related to three drivers: Increased customer retention Reduced cost to acquire new customers earned through positive recommendations Low price inelasticity when insurers satisfy their customers Year-over-year, the study consistently shows a favorable relationship between these three profit levers and higher customer satisfaction. In 2009, the linkage between satisfaction and financial return is once again confirmed even with several important insurers changing relative rank position. The linkage analysis includes segmenting profiled insurers into one of three tiers based on their Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) scores. Those with a CSI that is statistically higher than the industry average are included in the high satisfaction tier, while those with a CSI that is significantly lower than the industry average are included in the low satisfaction tier. Those with a CSI that is not significantly different from industry average are included in the medium satisfaction tier. (Figure MD-6) Despite the past 12 months of recession, high satisfaction insurers continue to achieve higher retention, lower acquisition costs, and pricing power. Customer satisfaction, as measured by the index model for the 2009 National Auto Insurance Study, has a strong correlation with financial outcome measures such as retention and new-business generation. (Figure MD-6) Financial Return By Insurer Satisfaction Tier Retention-Related Acquisition Cost-Related Company OSAT Index Actual Rentention 3 Definitely will Renew Definitely Plan to Shop Acquisition Cost 4 Definitely will Recommend No. of Positive Recommendations Will Not Switch for Any Price High-Sat % 67% 12% 15.2% 56% % Medium-Sat % 49% 23% 16.7% 39% % Low-Sat % 37% 31% 19.3% 27% % 3 Source: 285,000 households screened by J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Insurance Study SM 4 Source: Standard and Poor s; Based on 2008 statutory findings Insurance Expense Exhibit (Part III) of NAIC s Annual Statement. Figure MD J.D. Power and Associates, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 6

9 Retention J.D. Power and Associates retention analysis reflects both actual retention (measured by surveying more than 285,000 customers regarding their insurer disposition year-overyear) and stated intent to renew (determined by respondent ratings in the survey for this study). Both metrics show a significant positive relationship to the overall Customer Satisfaction Index. As shown in Figure MD-6, the average annual policy retention rate for the high satisfaction group of insurers is 7 percentage points higher than for the medium satisfaction group and 13 percentage points higher than for the low satisfaction group. Conversely, the proportion of customers who indicate they plan to shop (first step to defection) for a new insurer increases as overall satisfaction declines. Overall Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) and Intent to Renew 90% NJM Insurance Co. USAA 80% 70% Amica Mutual 60% 50% % Definitely Will Renew 40% COUNTRY CSAA American Family Alfa Auto-Owners Nationwide Farmers GEICO ACG Allstate The Hartford Other Grange Ameriprise Mercury Liberty Mutual MetLife Progressive GMAC Hanover Safeco Esurance Commerce Encompass 21st Century Travelers Erie Insurance ACSC ANPAC Shelter State Farm R2 R = = 30% AIG 20% Overall Overall Satisfaction Satisfaction (JDPA (JDPA Index) Index) Source: J.D. Power and Associates 2009 National Auto Insurance Study SM Figure MD J.D. Power and Associates, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 7

10 Acquisition Costs There is a clear advantage for high satisfaction insurers regarding acquisition costs, as measured by the Insurance Expense Exhibit (Part III) of the NAIC 2008 annual statement. These insurers have an acquisition expense advantage that is 1.5 percentage points higher than the medium satisfaction group and 4.1 percentage points higher than the low satisfaction group. (Figure MD-6) Many factors affect acquisition costs, such as distribution channel, state concentration, policy tenures, and risk profiles. Customer satisfaction has significant influence on controlling these costs, as word of mouth sales through recommendations generate lowcost leads and influence higher close rates. One indirect measure is the level of customer referrals relative to customer satisfaction. As displayed in Figure MD-6, more than half (56%) of customers of high satisfaction insurers state they definitely will recommend their insurer, compared with only 27% for low satisfaction insurers. The number of actual reported recommendations averages 2.5 per customer for high satisfaction insurers and 1.6 for low satisfaction insurers. These results flow down to the individual customer level, suggesting that there are benefits for improvement regardless of the insurer s overall index ranking. (Figure MD-9) 2009 J.D. Power and Associates, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 8

11 Overall Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) and Intent to Recommend 1 80% NJM Insurance Co. USAA 70% Amica Mutual 60% ACSC 50% 40% % Definitely Will Recommend 30% GMAC ANPAC Shelter Erie Insurance Alfa State Farm CSAA GEICO Auto-Owners The Hartford COUNTRY Nationwide Ameriprise American Family ACG Farmers Esurance Grange Other Progressive Allstate Liberty Mutual Mercury MetLife Commerce 21st Century Safeco Travelers Encompass Hanover R2 R 2 = 0.88 = 20% AIG 10% Overall Overall Satisfaction (JDPA (JDPA Index) Index) Figure MD-8 Source: J.D. Power and Associates 2009 National Auto Insurance Study SM 2009 J.D. Power and Associates, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 9

12 Price Flexibility Price flexibility is measured as a customer s willingness to switch insurers when a price differential exists. When asked what price would entice them to change insurers, 34% of customers stated, I wouldn t switch for any price. (Data not shown.) However, among high satisfaction insurers, this proportion increases to 46%, and drops to 22% among low satisfaction insurers (at the insurer company level). (Figure MD-6) While recognizing the difficulty of leveraging this flexibility in a regulated environment, it has benefit nonetheless. View at Individual Customer Level The analysis thus far has been at the overall insurer level. At the individual customer level, satisfied customers behave far more favorably, regardless of the insurer. This suggests improvements are possible for each insurer if they are able to successfully move additional customers into a more satisfied category. For purposes of illustration, customers have been segmented into three satisfaction tiers: When asked what price would entice them to change insurers, 34% of customers stated, I wouldn t switch for any price. High Satisfaction (31% of total) Represented by overall index scores of 901 or higher Medium Satisfaction (60% of total) Represented by overall index scores between 551 and 900 Low Satisfaction (9% of total) Represented by index scores of 550 or lower Financial Return By Customer Satisfaction Tier Customer Definitely will Renew Plan to Shop Definitely will Recommend No. of Positive Recommendations Will Not Switch For Any Price High-CSI 85% 9% 78% % Medium-CSI 40% 24% 27% % Low-CSI 10% 42% 5% % Source: J.D. Power and Associates 2009 National Auto Insurance Study SM Figure MD J.D. Power and Associates, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 10

13 Summary Approximately 12 months into the current recession, the personal auto insurance market is just beginning to show signs of price hardening. A similar recession lag was observed in insurance pricing at the start of this decade, with the hardened market precipitating a decline in insurance customer satisfaction. However, those insurance companies that most effectively built customer relationships founded on service and value rather than merely price were less affected and have seen generally stronger policy retention rates throughout the decade. Building such customer relationships depends on a strong, consistent level of service aimed at meeting or exceeding customers expectations at each step in the customer life cycle. The 2009 National Auto Insurance Study provides an in-depth analysis of customer needs and desires at each service moment of truth and details the top service practices, or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This study provides valuable information that will help insurance companies prioritize strategies targeting those areas most important to customers. There are direct benefits to satisfaction when the industry delivers a level of service that is heavily focused on: However, those insurance companies that most effectively built customer relationships founded on service and value...have seen generally stronger policy retention rates throughout the decade. Managing customer expectations Effectively communicating both internally and with customers Providing convenient and flexible service at each step The KPI analysis is designed to be an important first step toward the full implementation of these service practice metrics, as well as many others. However, these initial steps can be more effectively prioritized by linking them to the financial levers of retention and advocacy. Along with access to J.D. Power s staff of industry experts, subscribers to the 2009 National Auto Insurance Study also have access to a performance improvement statistical modeling tool for an additional fee. Built around your company s current KPI performance levels, the J.D. Power Direct Action Planner SM is purpose built to model the impact of one or more performance improvement initiatives on customer satisfaction and subsequent policy retention rates J.D. Power and Associates, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 11

14 End Notes: 1 Significantly better than 2008 at a 90% confidence interval. 2 Significantly worse than 2008 at a 90% confidence interval. 3 Other is not shown. 4 Key Performance Indicator. 5 *Caution: small sample size (n<100). 6 USAA is an insurance provider open only to U.S. military personnel and their families, and therefore is not included in the rankings. 17 Excludes respondents who have tenure of <1 year or who made a policy change during the past year. 24 High Satisfaction is defined as 4 or 5 JDPower.com Power Circle Ratings TM (5 Power Circles = Among the Best; 4 Power Circles = Better than Most). Medium Satisfaction is defined as 3 JDPower.com Power Circle Ratings TM (3 Power Circles = About Average). Low Satisfaction is defined as 2 JDPower.com Power Circle Ratings TM (2 Power Circles = The Rest). 27 NJM Insurance Co. is an insurance provider open only to New Jersey Business & Industry Association members, State of New Jersey employees. Authors: Jeremy Bowler Senior Director Stephen Crewdson Senior Research Manager Jay Meyers, Ph.D. Director, Marketing Sciences Carol Fletcher Senior Research Manager Marcus Skerske Research Associate Advertising claims cannot be based on information in this publication. This publication may not be reproduced, used, sold, quoted, excerpted, or distributed, in whole or in part, without the express written permission of J.D. Power and Associates by J.D. Power and Associates, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved J.D. Power and Associates, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 12

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