The New York State Insurance Department has issued its 2009 rankings of complaints against auto insurers.
Here are the top ten companies with the most complaints:
- Long Island Insurance Co.
- White Mountain Group
- Tri-State Consumer
- American International Group
- Mercury General Group
- Commerce Group
- Utica National Insurance Group
- GMAC Insurance
- Kingsway Group (Lincoln General)
The State has also compiled a list of the insurers with fewest complaints:
- Adirondack Insurance Exchange
- Amica Mutual Group
- Main Street America Group
- QBE Insurance Group
- American Express Group
- Balboa Life & Casualty Group
- Electric Insurance Group
- Eveready Insurance Group
- Chubb & Sons
- Erie Insurance Group
- Preferred Mutual Insurance Co. (a tie for 10th position)
After publishing this post on January 12th I received the comment below of Michael C. Austin, Vice President and Director of Corporate Communications, for Utica National Insurance Group, # 8 on the list of the carriers with the most complaints. His comment, which has been reproduced under “Comments”, provides a cogent discussion of these lists from the viewpoint of the insurance industry.
To sum-up Mr. Austin’s comments,
- The Insurance Department’s lists rank the auto insurers on the ratio of upheld complaints against premium volume.
- A small company either can be helped or hurt by the lists. The small numbers involved in a relatively small company, such as Utica, make the ratio results volatile. For example, in a previous year, there was only one upheld complaint, and that resulted in Utica landing in the best ten list. However, in 2009, there were four upheld complaints and a dip in premium volume. As a result, Utica landed in the “ten worst companies.”
- The complaints are formal complaints adjudicated before the Insurance Department. Very few complaints get tried. The lists should be read only in the context of upheld complaints against the premium volume. The rankings say nothing about fairness in settling claims, promptness in payment, and general customer satisfaction.
- The so-called top ten and bottom ten lists should not be a factor for a consumer’s consideration in buying insurance.
Mr. Austin advised the following:
We would advise consumers to get recommendations from family and friends about an insurer, and also from their independent insurance agent, who represents a number of companies and is well-positioned to advise consumers on not only price but also their broad experience with the service and claims performance of the multiple number of carriers they represent–they’ve seen literally hundreds, even thousands, of claims and they know who does it well and who give the “cut-rate price and cut-rate service” * * *.
This is sound advice which we endorse.
If you have been involved in an automobile accident, please feel free to call me for a free consultation at 800-581-1434 or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark E. Seitelman, 1/12/10 (and revised 1/15/10), www.seitelman.com.