More than two-thirds of insurance customers are now digitally transmitting photos or videos when filing property claims, decreasing claim cycle times and helping drive the highest overall satisfaction scores ever measured, J.D. Power Associates said.

The market-research firm’s 2021 U.S. Property Claims Satisfaction Study found that homeowners who filed property insurance claims ranked satisfaction with their claims experience at an average of 883 on a 1,000-point scale. J.D. Power said that was the highest average score in the 14-year history of the annual survey.

Metlife ranked highest of 19 carriers that were rated with a score of 904, followed by Auto-Owners Insurance at 900 and Chubb at 896. Homesite ranked last at 862, with Auto Club of Southern California a notch higher at 865 and Erie Insurance at 869.

USAA also received a top rating of 904, but it was not included in the rankings with the other carriers because it sells only to military families.

J.D. Power said it surveyed 6,112 homeowners who filed a property claim within the previous nine months. Customers were asked to rate their satisfaction with (listed in order of importance): settlement, claim servicing, first notice of loss, estimation process and repair process.

Insurers were increasing use of self-service apps to transmit claims data even before social distancing measures were imposed last spring, but the trend accelerated during the pandemic, the survey shows.

“Insurers have been touting digital first notice of loss, mobile apps and software for pre-claim home content inventory cataloging, but customer adoption stayed stubbornly low—until COVID-19 hit,” Robert Lajdziak, senior consultant for insurance intelligence at J.D. Power, stated in a press release. “Overall use of technology—particularly on behalf of the carriers—increased significantly during the past year, creating direct benefits such as faster claims and secondary benefits such as a more consistent claims process for all customers.”

Lajdziak said in an email that 68 percent of customers sent photos or videos to claims adjusters during the pandemic, compared to 65 percent in early 2000, before social distancing measures were imposed. The percentage of claims with customer photos increased from 56 percent in 2018 to 62 percent in 2019.

Carrier use of those photos also increased. Lajdziak said carriers accepted 63 percent of the photos transmitted to them in the prior-year survey. The acceptance rate was 61 percent in early 2020 but jumped to 68 percent post-pandemic.

Most of the time, claims were resolved faster when customers transmitted their own photos. Lajdziak emailed a graphic that showed that for homeowners who engaged fully in digital claims processing, including accepting the insurer estimate and digitally transmitting the first notice of loss, payments were sent in 9.7 days on average. Customers who did not send photos or a digital FNOL received payment in an average of 14 days.

Claim resolution was slower when the digital chain process is broken, such as when customers did not accept the insurer’s estimate or the insurer did not accept the materials sent to them.

Lajdziak’s graphic shows the initial payment was received in 15.2 days when the customer submitted photos or videos but did not accept the insurer’s estimate. Payments were made in an average of 11 days when the customer accepted the insurer estimate.

Lajdziak said when photos were transmitted digitally but not accepted by the insurer, the initial payment took longer than if no photos has been transmitted at all.

He said insurers need to be address lingering issues that create “breaks” in the digital claims process.

“The process breaks when digital reverts to an offline experience and customers spend more time and energy to achieve the same outcome,” he said.

*This story ran previously in our sister publication Claims Journal.

Topics Carriers Claims Property