News: Consolidator Report
Oregon collision repair shops say that State Farm and two smaller Northwest-based auto insurers continue to be among the best at taking care of their customers after an accident, while GEICO, Allstate, Farmers Insurance and Safeco are among the worst. That was the finding of a new survey conducted by the Northwest Automotive Trades Association (NATA).
“Collision repair shops on a daily basis see how various insurance companies take care of Oregon drivers after an accident, so we feel it’s worthwhile to ask how they rate the various insurers,” said Barbara Crest, executive director of NATA. “We believe their views will be helpful to insurance companies and consumers.”
About 600 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 fifth time since 2004 the association has conducted such a survey. Crest pointed to a number of items of interest in the findings of the latest survey:
Repairers have consistently given the same three companies a grade of B or better all five times the survey has been conducted. State Farm and Oregon Mutual have held on to the top two spots, each receiving an overall grade of B+ again this year. Another Northwest insurer, Mutual of Enumclaw, maintained a grade of B to again finish third. State Farm is the largest auto insurer in Oregon; Oregon Mutual and Mutual of Enumclaw are ranked 14th and 15th, respectively.
Overall, shops gave insurers slightly better grades in this survey than they did in late 2009. Six insurers, including Unitrin, USAA and Travelers, finished with above-average grades of B- or better (compared to just four last year), and only one, Allstate, received anything lower than a C- (whereas four insurers received a D or D+ in the previous survey). Ten insurers improved their grades compared to 2009, and only two saw declines in their overall grade.
Although its D+ grade didn’t change, Allstate slipped to the bottom spot in the rankings as other insurers improved their grades. Although high grades from some shops helped pull Farmers Insurance up to an average grade of C, more than one in four shops responding to the survey gave that insurer an “F,” the most failing grades received by any insurer. By comparison, Allstate, which received the lowest overall grade this year, received only about half as many “F” grades as Farmers did.
Progressive, which finished last in the survey for several years, has continued to improve its grade, jumping from a D+ in 2009 to a solid C in the latest survey. It ranked 16th in the survey, the first time it was not among the bottom four insurers. Other insurers showing notable improvements were Unitrin, USAA, Travelers, American Commerce, GEICO and Safeco.
For the first time since the surveys have been conducted, North Pacific Insurance was not ranked in the top four. It slipped from a B- in the previous survey to a C this year, dropping to No. 12 in the rankings. North Pacific was acquired by Liberty Northwest (part of Liberty Mutual) in 2002, and several shops commented that its claims practices have changed since Liberty Northwest’s acquisition of Safeco in 2008.
In most cases, the grades given a particular insurer from shops involved in that insurer’s DRP were higher than those given by shops that are not part of that insurer’s program. This was particularly true with Farmers, USAA, The Hartford, GEICO, Esurance and 21st Century (formerly AIG), whose DRP shops gave them grades of B or better while non-DRP shops gave these same insurers grades of C+ or lower. But even Ameriprise, Nationwide, Safeco and Allstate direct repair shops gave those insurers only average grades of C+. USAA and 21st Century saw particular improvements in grading from their direct repair shops in the latest survey.
North Pacific’s grade among shops not participating in its DRP fell more than a full letter grade from a B+ in 2009 to a C in the latest survey. Progressive’s overall grade was buoyed most by improvement in how shops that are not on its DRP rated the insurer (an average C rather than a D in the previous survey).
“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 throughout Oregon communities responded to the survey. These shops had an average of 11 employees (down from an average of 13 in the 2009 survey but equal to the average in 2006).
2011 Insurer Report Card
What grade do Oregon collision repair shops give auto insurers in terms of how their “policies, attitude and payment practices ensure quality repairs and customer service for Oregon motorists”?
|Insurer|| Overall Grade (plus 2009 grade)*
||Non-DRP Shops **||DRP Shops **|
|Oregon Mutual||B+ (B+)||B||A|
|Mutual of Enumclaw||B (B)||B||A-|
|American Family||C+ (C+)||C+||B+|
|Country Companies||C+ (C+)||C+||N/A|
|The Hartford||C+ (C+)||C||B+|
|American Commerce||C+ (C)||C+||N/A|
|California Casualty||C+ (C+)||C||N/A|
|North Pacific||C (B-)||C||B-|
|21st Century||C (C)||C-||B|
|Liberty Mutual||C (C+)||C||B-|
|Farmers Insurance||C (C-)||D+||B|
n/a = Insufficient responses from shops on the DRP to assign a grade.
* Based on responses from all shops.
**Based only on responses from shops participating in (or not participating in) that insurer’s DRP.