5 Tips for Choosing an Insurance Company
When you're choosing an insurance company, price and coverage are essential considerations—but what about customer service and financial strength? When accidents happen, you'll want to be sure you can reach someone, not just an answering machine. And you'll certainly want to choose an insurance company that will pay what they owe and settle your claim fairly."
While purchasing insurance can feel overwhelming, following these tips will help you choose the right insurance company and learn the importance of having insurance in the first place.
When you're owed money, the last thing you want to hear is that your insurance company can't pay out your claim because of its poor financial results. By selecting an insurance company that is financially sound—not just today but in the years to come—you can help ensure that you will always be protected.
The Insurance Information Institute (III) advises that you start your search by looking at how independent rating agencies have rated each company. Ratings agencies, such as Moody's and Standard & Poor's, assess insurance companies using standards they've developed.
Westfield, for example, has been in business since 1848 and has been given an “A" rating from ratings company AM Best every year since 1934. This means that the company's financial strength is “excellent or higher" and is “a key differentiator" that speaks to the company's stability and long-term financial health, explains Serena Winbigler, an auto claims leader who has worked for Westfield for 30 years.
Knowing what customers say about an insurance company is important and can also help you narrow down your search. People often just pay their insurance premiums and don't think much about the reputation of their insurance company until they actually need to file a claim and have to interact with someone, Winbigler explains.
“An insurance company that has a good reputation is one that's there for you when you need a claim handled," Winbigler continues, noting that according to an Overall Claim Satisfaction Survey around 91 percent of Westfield's customers report being satisfied with how their claims have been handled over the past year. “If you can't give a customer what they need in a timely manner, they're going to go somewhere else."
To learn what customers think about their insurance provider, take a look at the company's net promoter score. This can give you helpful information because it tells you the percentage of customers who are likely to recommend a company, product or service to a friend. It's usually more reliable than online reviews, where people often rant about having a one-time bad experience, Winbigler says.
In addition, the III says that your state insurance department will also be able to tell you if the insurance company you are considering has had many consumer complaints about its service relative to the number of policies it sold.
Having good customer service is crucial for an insurance company. Deductibles, claims, conditions—policies can get complicated fast. But by choosing a company that is devoted to explaining the ins and outs and helps you when you need it, you can be sure that you've made the right choice.
When choosing an insurance company, find out if they have a designated customer care center with a phone line and customer care reps dedicated to taking your call quickly. You'll absolutely want this if you're filing a claim and have questions and need a speedy response.
Westfield provides 24-hour claims reporting and has a customer care team ready to assist customers from 8 am to 8 pm Monday through Friday. The team even texts with customers for added convenience.
“We're no longer living in a time when customers will call us up and feel comfortable waiting 24 to 48 hours for a response," Winbigler says. “Customers' needs are immediate. Being able to reach a company's customer service team to have your questions answered is more important than ever."
So much of our world is digital now and filing an insurance claim or paying your bill online shouldn't be any different.
“Digital is quickly changing the landscape in the insurance industry," Winbigler says, noting the increased move to online interactions. “Digital empowers today's customers who want the flexibility to choose how and when they interact with their insurance carrier."
Texting with customers is a new service that Westfield rolled out in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic for safety reasons, and the response to the convenient service has been resounding.
“Traditionally, we may have completed home or car inspections in-person to survey damages, but now we're offering customers the option to send us photos they've taken of the damage, and we can prepare estimates from those photos," Winbigler explains. “Quite honestly, our customers are flourishing in the environment and have adapted very quickly to remote interaction."
Many people shopping for insurance focus on pricing. And while it's a good idea to get several price quotes, it's an even better one to choose an insurance company that will go the extra mile and helps you understand the meaning behind the numbers.
“If you choose a policy with a lower premium, you may not understand exactly what you're getting because you're just looking at the bottom line," Winbigler says. “If you have an accident, and you've hit a semi or something very large, then you realize how important coverage limits can be."
Choosing a company that can help you understand what you're buying and the circumstances in which it applies is just as important as the price of the policy itself. The best-rated insurance companies won't be just the ones who offer you the cheapest option—they're the ones who have excellent customer service, can handle your questions and file your claims with diligence and care. To find a Westfield agent near you, click here.
Hear what a few Westfield customers have to say about their claims experience: