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Car insurance companies can be rated in many different ways. Biggest can be measured by the number of customers an insurance provider may have or by the net worth of the company itself. It can also mean the number of brick and mortar offices a company maintains or the number of states in which the company is licensed to do business.
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While opinions may differ on which car insurance companies are the biggest or best at any particular time, what matters most are the experiences that individual consumers have with their own insurance providers. It matters not how big a company is, if your own experience with the company has been poor and the company has failed to meet your expectations.
The 10 Biggest
Each year, Fortune Magazine publishes a list of the 500 largest corporations currently operating in the United States. To be included on the prestigious Fortune 500 listing is a tremendous accomplishment. To be among the top 100 companies in the country is a singular honor.
Six notable insurance companies made the Fortune top 100 and there are 10 major insurance concerns in the top quarter.
Highest on the Fortune 500 list is Berkshire Hathaway at number seven, then United Health Group at 22, American International Group at 33 and MetLife at number 34. Next are State Farm 43, Prudential 55, Liberty Mutual 84, and New York Life 86. At number 100 is Nationwide Insurance. The tenth highest insurance company on the Fortune 500 list is the Travelers Companies at number 112.
10 More of the Biggest
Financial rating company A.M. Best, produces a list of the top ten property and casualty insurance companies in the United States each year. Rank is measured by the total amount of net premium business written during the last full year, 2011.
By premium dollars written, the biggest insurer in the United States is the State Farm group. State Farm wrote more than twice as much insurance business in 2011 as the next highest competitor, Allstate Insurance. State Farm wrote $50.8 million in comparison to Allstate’s $24.8 million in insurance premiums during the same period.
Number three on the A.M. Best List was Liberty Mutual at $21.5 million, followed by Berkshire Hathaway Insurance (which includes top auto insurer Geico) at $21.4 million. Fifth was the Travelers Group at $21.4 million, with American International Group close behind at $19.7 million.
The Nationwide Group appears at position number seven on the A.M. Best top ten list with $14.5 million in premium business, followed closely by the Progressive Insurance Group, which also posted $14.5 million in premiums during 2011. Farmers Insurance Group finished in ninth place at $14.1 million. Last but certainly not least, of the top ten dollar volume insurance carriers, was USAA with $10.7 million in premium revenues.
It should be noted here that USAA does not cover members of the general public, yet is consistently rated among the best insurance companies in the nation. USAA confines its business to military personnel serving their country at home and abroad. Retired service members and their families are also customers of USAA.
10 Biggest Auto Insurers by Market Share
The Independent Insurance Agent Focus Magazine periodically reports on important issues in the insurance industry. Their May 2012 issue was devoted to a discussion of the largest car insurance companies in the United States ranked by market share as determined by studies published by A.M. Best.
The term market share defines the size of a company relative to its competitors and the marketplace as a whole.
Market share is calculated by dividing the total amount of a company’s sales during a specified period of time by the total amount of sales for the same time period in the entire industry.
Over the past few years, especially during the recent recession, auto insurers’ market shares remained stagnant. It has only been during the past 18 to 24 months that the insurance industry as a whole has enjoyed a gradual resurgence with many of the top auto carriers once again vying for even larger segments of consumers’ business.
With results similar to those demonstrated above in other surveys, State Farm was found to have the largest share of the auto insurance market in 2010 with 18.2%. This represents almost $30 billion in direct premium business. Number two in market share is The Allstate Group with a market share of 10.4% representing $17 billion in premiums.
Most of the other company names on this list are familiar ones. Berkshire Hathaway is third (mostly due to the tremendous growth of its Geico division) with an 8.5% market share, followed by Progressive at 7.7%. The one new entry on this list is the international insurance giant Zurich, its American Zurich Direct division representing 6 percent of the U. S. auto insurance market.
Number 6 is Liberty Mutual with 4.5%, followed by USAA with 4.4%, Nationwide Insurance at 4.2%, then the Travelers with 2.1%. Number 10 is American Family with 2% of the U. S. auto insurance market.
Consumers’ Top 10 Auto Insurance Company Picks
Several national firms conduct periodic auto insurance customer satisfaction surveys. Among these organizations are Consumers Reports and the international market research firm J.D. Power and Associates. Before reviewing the results of the J.D. Power studies, we’ll take a quick look at another recent satisfaction survey, published by the MSN Money.
While price is always an important consideration when shopping for car insurance, the quality of the product represented and the customer service provided by the insurer are equally important for a customer to be completely satisfied with an insurance purchase.
The MSN customer satisfaction survey report was based on more than 4,500 respondents during the first half of 2011. The 20 largest companies, ranked by market share, were evaluated for this study. The top three were named as People’s Choice Award recipients.
The top company in this study was USAA, with a 98% rating. Number two was Auto-Owners Insurance with an 86% rating, followed by The Hartford at 83%.
It is interesting to note that the J.D. Power and Associates ranking of auto insurers, just released in May of 2012 has The Hartford at number one with a score of 847 out of 1000 points. USAA would have been the J.D. Power top pick if it were a company that serviced the general public. Auto-Owners finished at number 10 on the J.D. Power listing according to Forbes Magazine.
The rest of the MSN top ten list includes State Farm at number four with an 81% satisfaction rating, 21st Century and Farmers Insurance at 79%, followed by AAA and GMAC both finishing at close to 79% approval ratings. Number nine was Allstate Insurance followed by Travelers with a 77.6% rating.
The balance of the J.D. Power top ten listings included Auto Club Group number four Auto Club Group, number five was Nationwide, and number six Amica Mutual. Number seven on the Power list was State Farm, number eight Erie Insurance, nine MetLife and number 10 Auto-Owners.
Websites are Important Tools
According to a new study begun in 2012, insurance company websites have become important tools for car insurance shoppers.
Almost 75% of consumers visit at least one insurance company website. More than a third of consumers reported that they preferred to buy their coverage online.
Online shopping has leveled the playing field for insurance providers across the nation. Several of the nation’s largest insurers have no brick and mortar retail offices, only regional administrative, claims and customer service centers. Companies like Esurance, Geico, Progressive, and Zurich Direct rely almost entirely on web-based contact to manage their sizeable customer base.
Satisfaction on the Rise
Consumer satisfaction levels with their car insurance providers are definitely on the rise. From 2009 to 2010, the industry showed an overall increase in satisfaction of 1.7%. In 2012, satisfaction levels increased even more, by 2.4% over the 2011 mark.
This definitely means that auto insurance companies are doing more to earn your business. They also appear to be getting better at doing their job; that is providing the public with value for their insurance dollar backed by reliable claims service and supported with a perceived positive customer experience.
While consumers are forcing car insurance providers to work harder to gain and maintain their business, competition still drives the market. It is up to consumers to shop and compare all available providers in their region and state.
Just because an auto insurance provider appears on a number of surveys and top ten lists doesn’t mean that company best suited to provide for your insurance needs.
As noted above, insurance company websites and comparison sites provide invaluable research and other information necessary to make informed insurance choices.
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