If you had to rank the most important criteria for buying car insurance what would be the items on your list? Would you only be concerned about price? Unfortunately, that seems to be the one deciding factor causing people to sign with one insurance company over another. Yet while price is important, you can’t forget the idea of customer service. You will need good customer service if you ever have to:
- deal with billing issues
- make changes to your policy
- file an accident claim
It’s great to be able to get cheap car insurance for just a few hundred dollars per policy period, but if the customer service doesn’t exist you could end up spending more money in the long run. Customer service should definitely be near the top of your list of criteria.
Measuring Customer Service
It’s easy to look online and find prices for various car insurance companies. When it comes to customer service, it’s a little trickier. The best place to start is with a professional market research company like JD Power and Associates. Market research is all JD Power and Associates does, but they do it extremely well. In fact, they may be the most well respected firm in the business. They rate car insurance companies according to a list of factors, customer satisfaction being among them.
The next thing you can do is simply search for customer reviews of a given insurance company; customer review websites are a dime a dozen across the Internet. You’ll find lots of anecdotal stories, some more detailed than others, chronicling the experiences various customers have with their insurance companies. The only thing to remember about these sites is that the vast majority of comments are going to be negative. Don’t be alarmed by this. Studies have proven that unhappy customers are far more motivated to leave reviews than happy ones.
Third, do an informal survey among your friends and relatives. Find out what car insurance companies they use, whether or not they are happy with the price, and whether or not they’re happy with the customer service. Since they have no professional or personal interest in seeing their insurance company succeed you’re likely to get pretty honest answers from them.
In the event you have a customer service issue with your car insurance provider you do have recourse. Every state requires insurance companies operating within their borders to be licensed and overseen by the state insurance department. As such, consumers can file complaints with their state agencies accordingly. As long as the insurance company has not broken the law the state can’t require them to perform a specific action, but just knowing they are being watched keeps many insurance companies in line.
In the event that filing a complaint with your state insurance department proves unsuccessful you can retain the services of an attorney. The threat of potential litigation is something car insurance companies try to avoid if they can. In most cases a skilled attorney can settle with your insurance company out of court. If you do decide to pursue this option just be sure to use an attorney who only charges if you win your case. You don’t want to be stuck with legal bills should you end up losing.
Hopefully customer service is not something you’ll ever have to deal with when it comes to your car insurance. But if you ever have accident that requires a claim, poor customer service will rear its ugly head. When you’re searching for affordable car insurance make sure you find a company that treats its customers well.