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Friday, 22 August 2014 16:56

Two Regional Insurers and USAA get Top Grades from Oregon Collision Repair Shops

State Farm may still be the largest auto insurer in Oregon, but it’s no longer the best liked by repairers, according to the latest survey of Oregon collision repair shops.

The survey by the Northwest Automotive Trades Association (NATA) asked shops to grade the Top 20 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 was the eighth time the association has conducted such a survey since 2004, and State Farm had topped the list each time, finishing last year with a solid B+ grade. But in a year in which State Farm required its “Select Service” shops in Oregon to use PartsTrader, shops dropped the insurer’s mark by a full grade to C+, putting it in fourth place in the survey, virtually tied with Progressive, California Casualty and other insurers. Multiple shops commented on PartsTrader as the reason for giving the insurer a low (or lower than in past years) grade.

Two smaller Northwest-based auto insurers continue to be among the best at taking care of their customers after an accident, according to shops. Oregon Mutual’s grade slipped a bit from a B+ last year to a B this year, but that was still good enough to share the top spot with Mutual of Enumclaw. Both companies have consistently been among the top four insurers in the survey every year. Shops in this year’s survey commented that the two are “excellent to work with” and “take care of their customers.” In terms of market share in Oregon, Mutual of Enumclaw and Oregon Mutual are ranked 12th and 13th, respectively.

USAA nudged up from a C+ to a B- this year, jumping from sixth place to third, its best showing ever in the survey. “They really care about their customers,” one shop noted.

Farmers Insurance was the only insurer to receive a D+ this year, keeping it at the bottom of the rankings for the third year in a row.

“Just as medical providers see how health insurers take care of patients, collision repair shops interact with auto insurers on a daily basis, so we feel it’s worthwhile to ask how those insurers treat Oregon drivers after an accident,” said Barbara Crest, NATA executive director. “We believe their views will be helpful to insurance companies and consumers.”

About 500 collision repair shops throughout the state received the survey and more than 50 shops responded to the survey. Crest pointed to a number of items of interest in the findings of the latest survey:

In addition to USAA, two other insurers saw their grades improve from the 2013 survey. Geico (which had a D+ in 2012) and Safeco each nudged up to a C this year, up from a C- last year.

Though State Farm’s drop was the most severe, seven other insurers saw their grades decline this year. Travelers was ranked 4th last year with a B-, but fell to a C this year. American Family, Allstate and Esurance (which is owned by Allstate) each dropped from a C to a C-. Shops cited inconsistency in the claims staff and policies at these companies.

Progressive has continued to work its way up the list, having had a D+ or worse (and the lowest or second-lowest ranking) in every survey between 2004 and 2009. It was 16th on the list in 2012, 8th last year and 5th this year.

Farmers received a “F” from about one-in-four shops, the most failing grades received by any insurer. (By comparison, Allstate and Esurance, the other lowest-graded insurers, each received about half as many Fs as Farmers.)

About one-in-three shops gave Oregon Mutual and Mutual of Enumclaw a grade of “A.” Last year, State Farm received an “A” from well over half of shops, but this year less than one-in-four shops gave it an “A” grade.

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. This was particularly true with California Casualty and USAA; their DRP shops gave them grades of A- or better while non-DRP shops gave each of these insurers a C and C+, respectively. But even Farmers Insurance direct repair shops gave that insurer only a C.

“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.”

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