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Superintendent of Insurance Howard Mills today issued the New York State Insurance Department’s 2006 Annual Ranking of Automobile Insurance Complaints, a document which helps consumers compare automobile insurers based on their level of customer service.

When compiling the ranking, the Insurance Department 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," said Superintendent Mills. "Over the past two years, we have been able to secure record cuts in auto insurance premiums for new and existing customers, bringing the total savings for New York policyholders to about $500 million. Most drivers saw their premiums decline by anywhere from 3 to 10 percent."

"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," continued Superintendent Mills.

The Insurance Department’s Consumer Services Bureau (CSB) closed a total of 9,939 private passenger complaints in 2005, with 5,286 of them either withdrawn by the consumer or not upheld.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 2005 for auto insurance and the 2006 Annual Ranking of Automobile Insurance Complaints found that there was roughly one upheld complaint for every $6.6 million in premiums written.

The companies at the top of the 2006 report ranked best in terms of consumer complaints closed in 2005. A total of 52 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 2006 Annual Ranking of Automobile Insurance Complaints include:

  1. Doubling the number from last year, four insurers topped this year’s complaint ranking, each boasting no upheld complaints in 2005: Drivers Insurance Company, Fairfax Financial Group, Eveready Insurance Company and Atlantic Companies.
  2. Central Services placed highest among the 10 auto insurers with the largest New York market share, finishing in 11th place.
  3. The three auto insurers with the most complaints in relation to their premiums written were: Country Insurance & Financial (50th), Royal & Sunalliance USA (51) and Long Island Insurance Company (52nd).

The 2006 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. In addition, the Insurance Department’s 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.

Department of Financial Services


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