Consumers name favourite life insurer

by Jamie Henry06 Apr 2015
Canadian insurers should take a leaf from the book of the single most-respected life insurer in the U.S.

Brand Keys’ Customer Loyalty Engagement Index named Allstate Insurance the preferred life insurer for consumers.

“I'd simply opine that Allstate's 80-plus years in business, along with prudent and conservative investment management skills that have kept its nose largely clean of financial crises, have painted a positive image for the company,” wrote Sean Williams, of the Motley Fool, a leading online publication tracking the extensive survey results around customer loyalty.

Allstate returned $2.8 billion in 2014 to its shareholders in the form of stock buybacks and dividends and announced a pre-tax yield of 4.2 per cent on its investment portfolio.

“Allstate's financial position is superior to many of its peers', leaving consumers to perceive they can trust Allstate to take care of them or their family when the time comes to collect on a life insurance policy,” wrote Williams.

Another of the key reasons Allstate has made on impression on consumers is its marketing, with spokesperson Dennis Haysbert now a well-recognized commercial figure.

Indeed, Allstate advertising led 17 per cent its surveyed customers to select the company as its insurer, according to Insure.com.

Progressive actually finished above Allstate for luring customers with advertising, but second place is good considering it was consistent across numerous categories.

The brand’s success can also be traced back to Patty VanLammeren, currently a senior vice president and chief field business conduct officer, who introduced initiatives including monthly meetings with executives aimed to improve customer satisfaction, making numerous presentations to thousands of employees, and holding individual business unit owners accountable for their actions in improving customer service.

“Put simply, Allstate recognized that keeping the customer happy would keep its bottom line healthy, and its No. 1 brand ranking clearly shows this is working,” said Williams.

This is a lesson Canadian insurers would do well to learn as consumer trust seems to be at an all-time low.

An Ernst and Young survey found the industry the lowest trust rating on a survey that included numerous other industries.

Only 59 per cent of Canadian consumers trust life insurance companies, which is the lowest rating compared to pharmaceutical companies (61 per cent), car manufacturers (64 per cent) and banks (81 per cent).

“Canada’s score was worse than America’s and worse than the global one,” said Marc-Andre Giguere, EY Partner and Canadian Financial Services Insurance Leader.

“Mature markets have lower scores than developing markets.  If you think of the Canadian market, the Canadian life insurance market is much more mature than most other countries. We have less competition here, which I think effects how much branding and how much new technology or new initiative the companies bring to the customers.”

Luckily for advisors, consumers haven’t tarred them with the same brush as they have insurers.

“Based on our surveys and talking to companies, I think customers view their advisors vs the insurance company very differently,” said Giguere.

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