State Farm and several smaller Northwest-based auto insurers continue to be among the best at taking care of their customers after an accident. And some of the other larger, best-known insurers –including Progressive, Allstate, Safeco and Farmers Insurance — are among the worst. That was the finding of a new survey of businesses that interact with auto insurers on behalf of vehicle-owners every day: Oregon collision repair shops.
“Collision repair shops on a daily basis see how various insurance companies take care of Oregon drivers after an accident, so we felt it was worthwhile to ask how they rate the various insurers,” said Barbara Crest, executive director for the Northwest Automotive Trades Association (NATA), which conducted the survey of Oregon shops. “We believe their views will be helpful to insurance companies and consumers.”
About 650 collision repair shops throughout the state received the survey, which asked them to grade the top 22 auto insurers in the state in terms of how well each company’s “policies, attitude and payment practices ensure quality repairs and customer service for Oregon motorists.”
This is the third time the association has conducted such a survey since 2004, allowing for some comparisons of how shops’ views of insurers have changed.
Crest pointed to a number of items of interest in the findings of the latest survey: • State Farm held on to the top spot, receiving an overall grade of B+, a slight drop from the A- it received in the two earlier surveys.
• In addition to State Farm, three Northwest insurers — North Pacific/Liberty Northwest, Oregon Mutual and Mutual of Enumclaw –were again the only three to receive grades of B or B-, ranking them in the top four each time the survey has been conducted.
• Four companies received below-average overall grades of D+ or lower. These companies were Farmers, Allstate, Progressive and Safeco.
• The other 14 auto insurers on the survey — including Hartford, Liberty Mutual, USAA, American Family, California Casualty and Nationwide — received overall grades of between C+ and C-.
• In most cases, the grades given a particular insurer from shops involved in that insurer’s direct repair program (DRP) were higher than those given by shops that are not part of that insurer’s program. That was particularly true with Progressive, GEICO, USAA, AIG, whose DRP shops gave them grades of B- or better while non-DRP shops gave these same insurers grades of C- or lower (a D- in the case of Progressive). But even Farmers and Nationwide’s DRP shops gave those insurers only average grades of C.
• California Casualty, American Family, AIG and GEICO received slightly higher grades in the 2008 survey compared to the 2006 survey. Country Financial is the only insurer to improve in each of the last two surveys, moving from a C- in 2004 to a C in 2006 and to a C+ this year.
• Allstate showed the largest decline in grade and ranking compared to 2006, when it was about in the middle of the pack with a grade of “C”. This year, shops gave Allstate a grade of D+, dropping it to the second-to-last spot in the rankings.
• Safeco, which received a grade of C in 2004, has since remained near the bottom of the rankings in the two most recent surveys with a grade of D+.
• Progressive improved slightly from a D- in the last survey to a D this year, but remained at the bottom of the rankings. Only Progressive and Farmers have ranked in the bottom four among insurers in all three NATA surveys.
“Collision repairers say the insurers receiving the highest grades, which includes both larger and smaller insurance companies – do the best job of taking care of Oregon drivers after an accident,” Crest said. “We hope consumers will take these ratings into account when choosing an auto insurer, and that insurers that received lower grades will work to improve their performance.”
More than 100 shops from 48 Oregon communities responded to the survey. These shops had an average of 11 employees and have combined total sales of an estimated $144 million.
Northwest Automotive Trades Association is a Portland-based trade association representing a diversity of the automotive trades industries in Oregon. NATA has produced the “Collision Repairer Report Card” since 2004.