Consumer satisfaction with homeowner insurance policies surged in 2009 for the first time in five years, according to an annual survey by market researcher J.D. Power and Associates.
Jeremy Bowler, senior director for insurance practice, said the overall satisfaction index for homeowners insurance rose by 21 points to 773 on a 1,000-point scale — an eye-catching increase considering that the index has been flat since 2004.
Bowler said premiums have been relatively stable in recent years. But that is being viewed more favorably now because of the recession. Consumers now are more cautious about spending and worried about their jobs, he said.
"It's not what The Hartford, State Farm or other insurance companies are doing, but the environment," Bowler said. "What has been happening around them is the recession. The consumer mind-set has been influenced by that."
The overall increase is based on favorable consumer perceptions of price, policy offerings, billing and payment policies, Bowler said.
Property casualty insurers with large operations in the Hartford area had mixed results in the survey of 13,000 homeowner insurance customers conducted from April to June. The survey is in its ninth year.
The Hartford Financial Services Group's overall ranking rose to 789, up 21 points and on the same pace as the industry's overall ranking. But Travelers increase to 735 represented a climb of just 13 points, well below the industry pace.
For the eighth year in a row, Amica Mutual ranked the highest in the survey.
Bowler said the survey found that the more policies a consumer had with an insurer, the higher the satisfaction because of added perks, such as multipolicy discounts.