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Superintendent of Insurance Howard Mills today issued the New York State Insurance Department’s 2005 Annual Ranking of Automobile Insurance Complaints, a document which helps consumers compare automobile insurers based on their level of customer service.

The Insurance Department when compiling the ranking analyzes the number of complaints consumers filed against their auto insurer in the previous calendar year, assesses how many were determined to have merit, and calculates these trends in the context of an insurer’s total premiums written statewide.

"This is a great time to be an auto insurance consumer in New York. Most drivers saw their premiums decline by anywhere from 3 to 10 percent in 2005," said Superintendent Mills. "But price is only one factor to consider when purchasing an auto insurance policy and the Department’s annual complaint ranking gives New Yorkers a sense of an insurer’s customer satisfaction level."

The Insurance Department’s Consumer Services Bureau (CSB) closed a total of 13,023 private passenger complaints in 2004, with 7,233 of them either withdrawn by the consumer or not upheld. 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 Insurance 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 2004 for auto insurance and the 2005 Annual Ranking of Automobile Insurance Complaints found that there was one upheld complaint for every $5 million in premiums written.

The companies at the top of the 2005 report ranked best in terms of consumer complaints closed in 2004. A total of 48 insurance companies or groups of companies were incorporated into the report, with auto insurers having written premiums totaling at least $10 million eligible for ranking.

Highlights of the 2005 Annual Ranking of Automobile Insurance Complaints include:

  • American Modern Insurance Group of Ohio placed first while Electric Insurance Company, a Massachusetts-based insurer, ranked second. Neither American Modern Insurance Group nor Electric Insurance Company received any consumer complaints which were upheld by the New York State Insurance Department in 2004. Amica Mutual Insurance Company of Rhode Island finished in third place.
  • Progressive Insurance Group placed highest among the 10 auto insurers with the largest New York market share, finishing in 16th place.
  • The three auto insurers with the most complaints in relation to their premiums written were: Long Island Insurance Company (46th), Infinity Property & Casualty Insurance Group (47th), and Empire Insurance Company (48th).

The 2005 Annual Ranking of Automobile Insurance Complaints is posted online at the Department’s Web site at (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 2005 Consumer Guide to Automobile Insurance, which offers price comparisons, is also at the aforementioned Web site and can be obtained free of charge through the Department’s toll-free number in both upstate and downstate versions (Publications #4 and #5, respectively).

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