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|Friday, August 28, 1992
State Ranks Homeowner, Car Insurers;
By: THOMAS S. MULLIGAN
Farmers complained that its Farmers Insurance Exchange unit, with only $20.6 million of premiums written in 1991, was listed separately from its much larger ($300.4-million) Fire Insurance Exchange unit, which had one of the 10 best complaint records.
Thursday's survey followed one released on Wednesday ranking sellers of health and life insurance.
For No. 1-ranked, USAA it was the second straight year that it made both 10-best lists.
Ridgefield, N.J.-based National Colonial had the worst complaint ratio among auto insurers, with 2.48 justified complaints per $1 million of premiums written, compared to an average of only 0.29 for auto insurers.
The department defines a justified complaint as one involving a violation of insurance laws or regulations or one in which a consumer could not get a response from the insurance company.
Frank Bishop, claims manager for National Colonial, acknowledged the poor record. But he said that he joined the company this year in part to address the problem and that he has "drastically changed" and improved the way complaints are handled.
Garamendi hit Republic Financial Services of Dallas for landing three homeowners subsidiaries--Republic, Vanguard and Blue Ridge--on the 10-worst list.
Both Republic and Coast National Insurance Co. of Westminster, which was second-worst on the auto ranking, criticized the survey's methodology. They said a complaint ratio based on dollar-volume of premiums instead of number of policies written works against companies that write a lot of low-price policies.
Garamendi said he heard similar "whimpering" about the previous day's life insurance survey. Rather than quibbling about methodology, he said, insurers should focus on satisfying customers.
The survey noted that the 50 largest auto insurers
handle 93.5% of the state's business, while the top 50
homeowners insurers have 91.2% of the market.
Justified Complaint Company Complaints Ratio
Copyright (c) 1992 Times Mirror Company
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