Manitoba drivers may enjoy some of the lowest auto insurance premiums in the country, but that isn't enough to keep some of them happy, according to a new customer satisfaction survey by J.D. Power & Associates.
The global marketing information services company said a new survey of 2,458 auto insurance claimants in Canada found Manitoba had the lowest customer satisfaction rating in the country, with 753 out of a possible 1,000 points.
In fact, the bottom three finishers were provinces with compulsory public-auto-insurance programs, rather than a private-auto-insurance system. Quebec had the highest rating, at 840, and it has a hybrid system where a government agency covers bodily injuries and private insurers cover damages to property, including vehicles.
J.D. Power's senior partner, Lobo Li, said he suspects philosophical differences may be the main reason why the three provinces with compulsory public-auto-insurance programs -- Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia -- had the lowest satisfaction ratings.
"When you do that (impose a mandatory system) you take choice away from the people, and a portion of the population are ideologically against that kind of approach," Li said. "And I have to believe that would influence their perception (of customer satisfaction levels)."
The J.D. Power report, entitled 2013 Canadian Auto Claims Satisfaction Study, looked at customer satisfaction in six key areas: the initial claims process, the damage appraisal process, the tow truck or car rental process, the repair process and the final settlement process.
It found that nationally, the two stages that had the biggest impact on overall satisfaction were the first (initial claim) and the last (final settlement). Li said if the insurer rated poorly in either or both of those categories, that tended to drive down the overall satisfaction rating.
While that kind of detailed breakdown wasn't done at the regional level, Li said Manitoba likely didn't score as well in those two areas.
However, Brian Smiley, media relations officer for Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI), said he's puzzled by the study's findings because the Crown corporation's own quarterly customer surveys consistently show high satisfaction levels.
He said the last survey of 800 claimants found 89 per cent were satisfied with their overall dealings with MPI, 95 per cent said they were satisfied with their initial contact with the corporation, and 86 per cent said they were happy with the way their adjustor handled their claim.
"So that is in complete contrast with this other study that has come out."
He also noted another recent national study by Deloitte found Winnipeg had the lowest auto insurance premiums of any major Canadian city.
"So all of that combined creates a very positive outlook for MPI."
Li said even though Manitoba had the lowest regional rating, 753 out of 1,000 is still not a bad score.
"And it's not that dramatically different from Saskatchewan."
But he also said while Manitoba's rating isn't that bad and it's a monopoly situation here, it's still important for MPI to strive for the highest possible level of customer satisfaction. And Smiley said it does.
"Our customers expect top level service... and we look forward to providing that," he added.
The J.D. Power study was based on responses from auto insurance customers who settled an auto insurance claim within the past 18 months. It was conducted between April and June, and excluded claimants whose vehicles incurred only glass/windshield damage, was stolen or who filed a roadside assistance claim only.
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