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When hunting for new home insurance leads, agents would be wise to be ready to tout service satisfaction and how they can save homeowners money.

Homeowners insurance has grown significantly, led by favorable customer perceptions of the value of their policies, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 National Homeowners Insurance Study.

The message for agents is clear – alert policyholders to potential discounts and how those discounts can save them money.

The study focuses on customer satisfaction with homeowners insurance companies by studying five key factors: policy offerings, price, billing and payment, interaction, and claims.

Overall satisfaction with homeowners’ insurance companies averages 773 on a 1,000-point scale in 2009 – growing by 21 points from last year. The overall gain is mostly attributable to major improvements in the price, policy offerings and billing and payment factors. In particular, satisfaction with price has improved most notably – increasing by 46 points from just last year.

Contributing further to better perceptions of policy value are changes in the perceived prevalence of discounts. Agents can tout discounts to prospective policyholders they receive through home insurance leads.

The percentage of policyholders who report obtaining discounts has grown this year to 84 percent from 81 percent in 2008. Of the 27 insurance companies included in the study, 10 reported notable increases from a year ago in the proportion of their customers who note receiving discounts. Policyholders who receive discounts are much more satisfied than those who either do not receive discounts or are unsure of the discounts they obtain.

“To maximize the lift in satisfaction that discounts may bring, insurance companies must clearly inform customers of the number and types of discounts they are receiving,” said Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “Even if a customer’s policy doesn’t change, satisfaction may improve by more than 90 points when they’re informed of the discounts they qualify for and are getting, compared with when they have no awareness of the discounts.”

Additional data from the study finds that more than eight in 10 customers report bundling multiple policies with their homeowners’ insurance company.

Satisfaction with insurance companies’ policy offerings grows with every added policy purchased, with satisfaction averaging more than 170 points greater among customers with four or more policies with their insurer, compared with customers who hold only a homeowners policy with their insurer of choice.

“Keeping homeowners insurance customers well satisfied may pay dividends, as these customers are very likely to purchase additional insurance policies and other financial products from their insurer,” added Bowler.

The study also finds that making improvements in overall satisfaction may have a strong positive impact on renewal and recommendation rates which is good news for agents working to convert home insurance leads into policies.

As an example, bettering overall satisfaction from an average of 750 to 800 may result in a 10- to 15-percentage-point gain in the proportion of customers who state they “definitely will” renew their policies.

Similarly, this improvement in satisfaction may also lead to a 10- to 15-percentage-point improvement in the number of customers who report they “definitely will” recommend their insurer to others.

Amica Mutual ranked on top for an eighth consecutive year among homeowners insurers in the study, performing especially well in all five factors that contribute to overall customer satisfaction.

Following Amica in the rankings are Auto-Owners, Erie Insurance and State Farm, respectively. USAA, an insurance provider available only to U.S. military personnel and their families and therefore not included in the rankings, also receives a high level of customer satisfaction.

What does this mean for InsuranceLeads.com? Agents who get their home insurance leads, renters insurance leads, or any other type of leads from us should strike while customer satisfaction is hot in order to increase their business.

The 2009 National Homeowners Insurance Study is based on responses from more than 12,900 homeowners’ insurance customers.