Allstate is promising that if you buy a policy and are not satisfied with your claims service, you'll get a refund.
Under the money-back claims satisfaction guarantee, eligible customers who are dissatisfied with the service on a paid auto claim can receive a credit to their premium if they complain in writing within 180 days of the incident that caused the claim. Last year, Allstate tested the guarantee in four states -- Georgia, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio -- and had very few requests for refunds, says Allstate spokeserson Kevin Smith.
Because the guarantee was successful in the test states, Allstate is expanding its customer satisfaction guarantee to a total of 31 states, with more to follow in coming months.
"We had very few applicants for the satisfaction guarantee in those test states, which led us to believe, one, this would be successful for us and, two, our processes continue to be performing very well," Smith says.
Allstate isn't charging more for the personal auto insurance policies that come with the new guarantee. There are no qualifiers or exceptions. If customers are dissatisfied with the way their claim was handled at any time for any reason, they can apply for a credit.
"From their first phone call after the accident, to their last in the claims process, if there's any part they're dissatisfied with, that's where the claim satisfaction guarantee comes in," says Smith.
Customers will receive a credit equal to six months of their premiums, says Smith. Allstate is offering the guarantee as a way to distinguish itself from other insurance companies.
A consumer advocate's perspective
Doug Heller, executive director of the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog organization in Santa Monica, Calif., says it would be better for consumers if
Allstate promised that customers would be satisfied with the way their claims are resolved. For example, if someone receives a low payment for a major claim, returning their premium won't solve the problem, he adds.
"If you buy a rotten apple and take it back to the store, and they give you your money back, you're back where you started," he says. "But if you get your money back on your car insurance premium because you're dissatisfied with the claim service you received, you still may be out thousands of dollars in unpaid car repair and medical bills."
According to Mark LaNeve, an Allstate senior executive vice president, the guarantee is an assertion by the company that it has confidence in its claims adjusters and agency owners. If a customer isn't happy, he says, the company isn't doing its job.