Buying Car Insurance?  Don't Forget Service

TORONTO (November 29, 1999) -- Consumers who buy car insurance in Ontario should get the whole picture before making a decision, according to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO).

"Car insurance is a significant mandatory purchase for consumers -- it protects them, their families and their investment in their vehicles," said Dina Palozzi, FSCO's Chief Executive Officer and Superintendent of Financial Services. "While price is a key consideration in buying car insurance, service is equally important."

To give consumers insight into how well individual auto insurance companies handled claims as viewed by their customers, FSCO has released its 1999 Claims Satisfaction Survey. It shows that Ontario consumers enjoy a high level of satisfaction with the way in which their claims are dealt with. The total satisfied average is 84 per cent. This represents an increase of 1.7 per cent from the previous year.

This is the second year for the survey, which compares the claims service offered by 48 car insurance companies and the Facility Association. FSCO has improved the margin of error from the previous year's survey to ±3.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

"Consumers must have access to information that empowers them to make wise decisions when purchasing car insurance," said Ms. Palozzi. "Educated, informed consumers are a key component of a thriving, competitive financial services marketplace."

The 1999 Claims Satisfaction Survey is included in FSCO's publication entitled "Shopping for Car Insurance," which provides key information on what consumers need to know about car insurance. To get a copy of the claims survey or the "Shopping for Car Insurance" booklet, visit FSCO's website at or call FSCO's Publications Line at (416) 590-7298.

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According to FSCO's 1999 Claims Satisfaction Survey, consumers are generally very satisfied with the claims service provided by Ontario's property and casualty insurance companies. FSCO followed up on the survey with interviews with consumers from across the province. Here are some of their comments about their experiences.

"They were awesome," says Susan. She had her 1996 Dodge Ram stolen from her driveway in the middle of the night. When she called her insurance company the next morning and left a message on the answering machine, an official from the insurance company called her back right away. Consumers are normally asked to wait for 72 hours following the theft of an automobile, as the stolen automobile usually can be tracked down within that time. However, Susan's insurance company offered her the option of having a rented car right away. Her car did surface the next day, and she had a cheque to cover the repair bill immediately. "I can't say enough about them," says Susan, "they were awesome".
Susan Schofield -- Barrie

"Generally, I think insurance companies are awful", says Colin. "It always seems like it's very easy to buy insurance, but very hard to get, in fact, what you think you're entitled to." After having his car totalled in an accident, Colin soon changed his mind. The company called to tell him exactly what he was entitled to, right down to the replacement of his damaged licence plate holder. In addition, "the person I spoke to was so nice and always phoned back, always asked the right questions. I had a cheque for thousands of dollars within a week."
Colin Hopper -- London

David sums up the experience he had with his car insurance company as "probably the most positive circumstance I've had in the last 10 years." The person he dealt with at his insurance company was prompt, considerate and responsive, and David says he found that to be "very unusual in business. Most service providers that I deal with -- it's a chore -- this was a pleasure."
David Wright -- Toronto

Gary says that when he had to file an insurance claim with his insurance company, he was "very, very pleased with the service I received." As a professional in the painting and decorating business, he deals with insurance companies on the job. When he had to file his own claim, he wasn't sure what to expect, but he says his company was "very professional, very efficient, and I was impressed with how fast they handled my claim."
Gary Padgett -- Sturgeon Lake

After filing a claim with her insurance company, Hélène was "blown away by how quick and nice they were. I had a cheque within a week, which was way faster than I expected, and the girl was extremely helpful, extremely nice. I can't say enough about her." Hélène says she has always got good service from her insurance company, with each of the three claims she has filed handled to her complete satisfaction. She wrote to the company to thank them for their excellent service and "wouldn't change insurance companies for the world."
Hélène Gour -- Ottawa