Better Service

Mutuals excel at service and in treating customers fairly

Mutual insurers and friendly societies according to their customers, deliver better service, really care about them and treat them more fairly than non-mutual insurers, according to research amongst over 20,000 customers of life insurance companies, of whom around a third were customers of a mutual.

The customer research was conducted through the Association of British Insurers (ABI’s) Customer Impact survey, which explores in depth the relationship a customer has with his or her life office. The 10 members of the Association of Financial Mutuals that took part in the survey and provided their results represent over a quarter of all the results.

The overall summary of the survey is the Customer Impact Index. The score for the industry as a whole fell from 52% in 2008 to 51% in 2009. For mutual insurers however the score was 58%, up slightly from 2008, and significantly higher than the industry as a whole.

The flight to quality

The results overall show that during a harsh economic and business climate, mutuals have continued to work hard to improve customer experiences. As a result, where the market as a whole witnessed falling business volumes in 2009, results posted so far by mutuals were largely positive.

However as that trend persisted whilst markets and customer sentiment recovered in 2009, it is surely a sign that customers increasingly recognise the value of mutuality- by placing their hard-earned cash with organisations that are in business to serve their best interests without the possible conflict of securing the interests of shareholders. Perhaps it is also reaffirmation of the caring, sharing and more selective society that the new Government is seeking to reflect in policy development.

The research not only clearly demonstrates the superior performance of mutuals, it also reveals that a positive customer experience with mutuals colours a client’s opinion of the entire industry. Customers of mutuals have a higher opinion of the industry as a whole: 52% of mutual customers agreed or strongly agreed that the insurance industry has an excellent reputation, compared with 48% of the customers of non-mutuals.