Car insurance companies are only truly put the test when you have to make a claim, and it appears some claims can feel more like a car crash.
Which? collected information on 1,335 car insurance claims in November 2016 to find out which companies handle them well, as well as those with room for improvement.
Our car insurance claims satisfaction tables ranks 23 insurers on how well they handle claims, based on their customers’ experiences. Even the companies towards the bottom of our table get it right much of the time. Conversely, no insurer is faultless, although our tables highlight those more likely to see you right.
Here, we share some case studies in which car insurers dazzled their customers, and where things didn’t live up to expectations.
Car insurance nightmares
The survey highlights five key areas where companies tend to fall short with claims. These were speed, communication, payment, trust and premium rises.
Good: A RSA policyholder was extremely impressed after a errant driver made a cyclist crash into his vehicle. He said: ‘I was very satisfied, because it only took two weeks to sort the whole thing out and get my car repaired.’
Bad: We found many examples of people having battles to get their claim sorted. One driver told us he had been waiting for more than one year for his insurer to settle his claim after someone drove into his stationary car,
Good: Aviva impressed a claimant who’d been forced off the road by a 4×4. Their car was recovered quickly and a courtesy car provided, while the claimant was ‘kept informed at every stage of the subsequent repair and return of my vehicle.’
Bad: Companies that manage your claim well keep you informed every step of the way. One claimant was left disappointed when another driver reversed into his vehicle in a car park. He said: ‘We received next to no communication throughout the process and, whenever we called, we spent a long time stuck on hold.’
Good: NFU Mutual impressed a policyholder when she claimed after reversing into a trailer. She said: ‘There was no quibble about the settlement. We’ve insured with them for years.’ She praised the firm as ‘very professional, honest and straight.’
Bad: Feeling that you’ve got a bad deal can compound a bad claims experience. A policyholder was left disappointed by his insurer after he wrote off his vehicle. He said: ‘The settlement was below what I expected; after some negotiation, my minimum expectation was met.’
Good: When a driver was shunted into traffic while waiting at a junction, an LV policyholder was impressed with the service they received. They said: ‘My claim was dealt with very quickly, and my version of events was accepted without query.’
Bad: Some policyholders felt that their side of the story just wasn’t believed by their insurer. One was unimpressed with how her claim was handled when her handbag was stolen from her car and then when the vehicle itself was stolen from outside her house. ‘They mishandled my claim from the beginning and I was made to feel like a criminal.’ she said.
Good: Direct Line gave a fair deal to a driver who’d made two claims in a year. Although the policyholder lost some no-claims discount, they said the premium renewal price was fair and comparable to others.
Bad: Claims can often cause premiums to rise but many people in our survey received big shocks. One insurer more than doubled its own policyholder’s premium after someone drove into a customers car while it was parked outside her house. The insurer had yet to claim the money from the at-fault driver insurer, causing premiums to rocket.
What the insurers told us
When we spoke to a variety of insurance company, they told us they endeavour to provide the best service possible, that customer feedback is taken seriously and they are looking to make improvements where necessary.
In the vast majority of cases, companies said, people are very happy with the management of their claim and their own surveys confirm this.
Our car insurance reviews scrutinize 31 major insurers to reveal which companies rank best for cover and customer satisfaction.