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ISSUED 12/29/2004 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SUPERINTENDENT ISSUES AUTO INSURER COMPLAINT RANKING

Annual Report Helps NY Consumers Evaluate Overall Customer Service

Superintendent of Insurance Gregory V. Serio today issued the New York State Insurance Department’s 2004 Annual Ranking of Automobile Insurance Complaints. Based on data that determines the number of consumer complaints the Insurance Department upheld during the previous calendar year, the report offers New Yorkers an easy way to compare the state’s private passenger automobile insurers on the basis of customer service.

The Insurance Department’s Consumer Services Bureau (CSB) closed a total of 16,194 private passenger complaints in 2003. Upheld complaints are ones deemed to have had merit after the CSB assessed the facts in each individual case. Recognizing the difficulty in comparing insurers of various sizes, the Department’s report ranks insurers by using a complaint ratio, the number of auto insurance complaints upheld against an insurer as a percentage of that insurer’s premium. New Yorkers spent more than $10 billion in 2003 for auto insurance and the report found that there was one upheld complaint for every $3.7 million in premiums written.

The companies ranked at the top of the 2004 report performed best in terms of consumer complaints closed in 2003.

"As auto insurance rates begin to decline in New York, more and more consumers are trying to get the most value for their insurance dollar by aggressively shopping for coverage. The Department’s annual complaint ranking is a unique resource designed to help New Yorkers evaluate policyholder satisfaction among auto insurers," said Superintendent Serio. "When buying insurance, price, of course, is important, but the service an auto insurer provides should not be overlooked. This guide is an important tool for smart consumers."

Price information is available through a separate Department publication, the 2004 Consumer Guide to Automobile Insurance.

Highlights of the 2004 Annual Ranking of Automobile Insurance Complaints include:

  • The three highest ranked (i.e., best performing) insurers, Amica Mutual, USAA Group and Erie Insurance Group, also finished among the top 10 in each of the past two years. Consumers should note that USAA markets private passenger auto insurance exclusively to military personnel and their families.
  • Of New York’s three largest auto insurers State Farm, with a 13% market share, ranked 15th ; Allstate, New York’s largest writer (16.6% market share) was ranked 32nd ; while GEICO, with a 13.9% market share, ranked 38th.
  • The three auto insurers with the most complaints in relation to their premiums written were: the Leucadia Group (49th), Interboro Mutual Indemnity Insurance Co. (48th) and the Infinity Property & Casualty Group (47th).

The 2004 Annual Ranking of Automobile Insurance Complaints is available on the Department’s Web site at http://www.ins.state.ny.us (along with previous rankings for year-to-year comparisons). The report is also available by calling the Department’s toll-free number at 1-800-342-3736 (Publication #6). In addition, the Insurance Department’s Consumer Guide to Automobile Insurance is also available on the Web site and through the Department’s toll-free number in upstate and downstate versions (Publications #4 and #5, respectively).

 

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