New York State
Insurance Department


NEW YORK STATE INSURANCE DEPARTMENT RANKS
AUTO INSURERS BY CONSUMER COMPLAINTS

New York, December 16, 1998

Superintendent of Insurance Neil D. Levin today released the Department’s annual ranking of consumer complaints against New York State’s automobile insurance companies. The companies ranked at the top of the list performed the best in 1997 in terms of consumer complaints. The ranking reflects the claims-handling ability of these insurers and serves as an indicator of policyholder satisfaction.

TIG Insurance Group—with no complaints upheld against it—took the top spot in the ranking for the second year in a row. Amica Mutual Insurance Company ranked number two, followed by USAA Group and Netherlands Insurance Companies. Amica and Netherlands were also among the top five performers in the 1996 ranking. USAA, in 12th place in last year’s ranking, writes only military personnel and their dependents.

For the third consecutive year, Country-Wide Insurance Company had the most complaints per $1 million in two-year average premium. Country-Wide, with a complaint ratio of 1.15, was followed by Winterthur U.S. Holdings Group and Legion Insurance Company. It should be noted that Legion Insurance Company writes only physical damage coverage, i.e., collision and comprehensive.

The complaint ratio is calculated by dividing the number of private passenger auto complaints upheld against an insurer and closed by the Department’s Consumer Services Bureau in 1997 by the insurer’s 1996-1997 average private passenger auto premium volume in New York State.

This year for the first time, the complaint ranking includes 161 complaints upheld against insurers for late payment of no-fault arbitration awards. Automobile insurance policyholders with disputes about no-fault claims can seek independent arbitration. No-fault regulations require insurers to pay these claims within 30 days of an arbitrator’s decision.

"Under Governor Pataki’s leadership, the auto insurance marketplace in New York is more competitive than ever," said Superintendent Levin. "For the last two years we have seen overall rate decreases for auto insurance, and we expect that this trend will continue. In addition to cost, consumers are concerned with service. The complaint ranking provides consumers with an invaluable tool for comparison shopping for auto insurance."

Last year marked the first time since 1974, when no-fault insurance was implemented, that overall auto insurance rates in New York decreased. In 1997, however, 31 insurance companies filed for rate decreases. So far in 1998, 48 auto insurers have filed for rate decreases.

The ten best performers in 1997 were:

1997
Rank

Company or Group

Complaint
Ratio

1996
Rank

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9

10

TIG
Amica Mutual
USAA
Netherlands
State-Wide
Allmerica Financial
Farm Family
Tri-State Consumer
Berkshire-Hathaway (GEICO)
Atlantic

0.00
0.01
0.03
0.03
0.04
0.05
0.05
0.06
0.09

0.09

1
4
12
5
24
20
36
9
11

18

 

The ten insurers with the highest complaint ratios were:

1997
Rank

Company or Group

Complaint
Ratio

1996
Rank

51
50
49
48
47
46
45
44
43
42

Country-Wide
Winterthur US Holdings
Legion
Leucadia
Merchants Mutual
AMEX Assurancel
American International
Eveready
PW Group
Utica National

1.15
0.55
0.46
0.44
0.44
0.41
0.33
0.32
0.29
0.28

52
47
*
50
46
32
53
2
*
25

* Did not appear in the 1996 ranking.

 

The Five largest auto writers in New York State are ranked as follows:

Company or Group

1997
Complaint
Ratio


1997
Ranking

1996-1997
Average
Premiums
(in millions)

Allstate
State Farm
Berkshire Hathaway (GEICO)
Travelers
Nationwide

0.18
0.21
0.09

0.18
0.18

30
36
9

28
31

$1,537.5
1,080.8
689.6

450.9
405.2

The Insurance Department encourages any New Yorker unable to resolve a complaint against an insurance company, broker, agent or adjuster to contact our Consumer Services Bureau. The toll-free number is 800-342-3736. Copies of this ranking are available by writing to the Department’s Publications Unit at Agency Building One, Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12257. In addition, the ranking is available on the Department’s Website at www.ins.state.ny.us. Complaint forms can also be printed from the Website.


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