Life insurance companies score well in customer satisfaction

By Maryalene LaPonsie on December 16th, 2011

Life insurance companies top both health insurance companies and banks in pleasing customers, according to the 2011 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

For 16 years, the index has tracked consumer perceptions of goods and services offered in the United States. On a 100-point scale, life insurance companies scored 80 overall, with Northwestern Mutual ranking highest among larger insurers.

Gauging customer satisfaction

Within the finance and insurance sector, ACSI surveyed customers of banks, credit unions, health insurance plans, life insurance companies and property and casualty insurers.

Credit unions topped the sector with a score of 87, followed by property and casualty insurers and life insurance companies. Customers indicated the least amount of satisfaction with health insurers, which had an average score of 72.

Consumers also reported high levels of satisfaction with their life insurance companies in the 2010 survey. At that time, Claes Fornell, founder of ACSI, attributed the high ranking to the fact that life insurance premiums "typically are fixed for the duration of the policy, and once a policy is in place, a customer might never again interact with the insurer."

2011 ACSI life insurance rankings

Life insurance companies scored an overall average of 80 on the 2011 ACSI. Small insurers fared best with a score of 82. Among the larger life insurance companies, Northwestern Mutual had the highest level of customer satisfaction.

The difference between the highest- and lowest-scoring life insurance companies was only four points:

  • Northwestern Mutual: 81
  • New York Life: 80
  • Prudential: 79
  • MetLife: 77

In addition, all the companies saw their 2011 ACSI score increase from the previous year with the exception of MetLife. Customer satisfaction with MetLife decreased 1.3 percent in 2011, according to the index.

The ACSI looks at a number of factors when making its rankings, such as customer expectations, perceived quality, customer complaints and customer loyalty. Perceived value is also factored into the score, although the ACSI indicates price becomes less important after an initial purchase.

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