Individual Insurance Company Reputations Better Than Overall Industry
Consumers Want Great Service And Social Responsibility, Ipsos Survey Shows
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
New York, NY — It takes more than good service to impress consumers these days, reveals an Ipsos survey of insurance company reputations.
Other than service, what distinguishes the most highly regarded and most trusted insurance companies in America from the industry as a whole is the public’s perceptions about their social responsibility and management.
“We found that the best performers are both market leaders and smaller companies that occupy a niche,” says Nicolas Boyon, a Senior Vice President with Ipsos Public Affairs and author of the study on consumer perceptions of the insurance industry. “What they have in common is a strong rapport with the public. They’ve regularly and consistently communicated their social values and contributions. They are seen to care about the community, about their employees and about being ethical.”
After Hurricane Katrina devastated many parts of the Gulf Coast in 2005, Ipsos began rigorously tracking the insurance industry’s overall reputation—and that of over 30 companies—on a continuous basis, interviewing thousands of American adults in the process, on a range of issues.
The Ipsos study shows that while the reputation of the insurance industry as a whole is relatively poor, every single individual company is doing better—and in some cases, far better, Boyon noted.
An industry with an image problem
More Americans hold an “unfavorable” opinion of the insurance industry (44%) than have a “favorable” opinion (21%) while 35% are neither favorable nor unfavorable. Among other sectors measured, only the oil and gas industry fares more poorly (11% favorable vs. 72% unfavorable). At the other end of the spectrum, the food and beverage industry, and charity sector, enjoy favorability scores of 61% and 60% respectively.
The area the insurance industry is perceived to be the best at is “being profitable and providing a good return to shareholders.” This is also the characteristic that is least likely to generate favorability from the general public, ongoing tracking shows.
The industry continues to suffer from a poor image around social responsibility, which has a much greater impact on favorability. More Americans rate the individual insurance industry’s performance as “poor” for being trustworthy, having ethical practices and for caring about communities than rate it as “good”.
Individual companies fare better
The image of individual insurance companies contrasts with that of the industry. Some of the 30 leading companies studied are viewed favorably by as many as 50% of the American public, and none is viewed unfavorably by more than 12% .
Insurance companies with the highest favorability scores tend to be those with the most policyholders and/or the better known ones, showing that, as in other sectors, market share and awareness are major predictors of favorability.
However, favorability scores are also largely driven by perceived performance related to service, social responsibility and management. This is how certain insurance companies, some large and some not so large, distinguish themselves from their competitors.
Customers as advocates
The best-regarded insurance companies also capitalize on the favorable opinion of their policyholders and can count on their active support as advocates. The best-rated companies, many of which are market leaders, receive a favorable opinion from over 80% of their policyholders.
This may explain why, one year after Katrina, an Ipsos survey revealed that that nine in 10 homeowners in the Gulf Region (89% in Louisiana and 93% Mississippi) were satisfied with their insurance company.
Results based on interviews conducted online with a representative sample of 4,167 adults nationwide, August 3-28, 2006 and interviews conducted by telephone with a representative sample of 881 adults homeowners in Louisiana and Mississippi, August 1-7, 2006.
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Senior Vice President
Ipsos Public Affairs
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