KC: We deal directly with customers. We
don’t have any agents in the field, so every
customer who calls us talks to an [Ameriprise]
employee. We spend a lot of time training our
people to listen to what our policyholders are
really saying and to always give honest
answers. Sometimes, in our business, we say
no. But we’ll take the time to explain our position, hopefully in sufficient detail. If there’s
any opportunity to find coverage, the client
always wins. We have a strong service ethic.
Accidents will happen
CC: What if there’s a value dispute on a
KC: With auto insurance, most disputes
come up when a car is totaled. If there’s a disagreement on the settlement price, we rely on
a number of resources, and we can show our
policyholders the average price of their car in
their market. Now, if your car has low mileage, was in great condition, if you just put new
tires on it, we will factor all that into the equation and give you a higher price. We look to
determine the honest value of the vehicle in
focus pays off
for Ameriprise and
customer service and what’s important to
think about when it comes to auto insurance.
CC: Awards and ratings aside, how do
you measure your company’s effectiveness?
KC: The overall measure I use is how well
our clients react and respond to what we’re
doing. Our retention rate with Costco members is 91 percent. We believe this is one of the
highest in the industry. We score 88 percent
consistently on our customer service. These
two things tell me we’re doing a good job.
By Will Fifield
AFTER YOU PICK an auto insurance company, do you even think about car insurance
again? If you’re like most people, you really
think about your car insurance only when
you need to submit a claim. At that point, the
best you can do is hope for a good experience.
Ameriprise Auto & Home Insurance,
Costco’s insurance service partner, was ranked
among the top five companies for overall customer satisfaction in J.D. Power and Associates’
most recent National Auto Insurance StudySM.
The study measures customer satisfaction
with auto insurance companies across five factors: interaction, price, policy offerings, billing
and payment, and claims.
The Connection recently spoke to Ken
Ciak, CEO and president of Ameriprise Auto
& Home Insurance, to discuss his views on
The Costco Connection: J.D. Power and
Associates recently recognized Ameriprise
for its customer service. How did your company achieve that rating?
Ken Ciak: Getting a high ranking from
J.D. Power was never our objective. Normally,
when we settle a claim, people are happy. The
challenge is that while the claim is being settled, the client wants to know what’s happening. That’s big for people. So, over the last few
years, we’ve worked on making sure our policyholders are informed and aware as to where
they are in the process of their claims and what
to expect. Candidly, we’ve learned a lot from
Costco about customer service. We’ve worked
together for 11 years now, and we share a lot of
CC: Are there other Ameriprise practices
that make its customer service stand out?
To learn more about Costco’s auto and home
insurance programs, visit www. costco.com
and click “Services,” then select “Auto &
CC: What do you advise people to look
for when they’re shopping for an insurance
KC: Price is important, but probably more
important than anything else is: Is the company assessing your situation and making sure
you have adequate limits of protection so if
you get in an accident and somebody sues you,
you have enough insurance to settle claims?
If you’re involved in an accident and
you’re found to be at fault, you’re going to owe
someone for his or her medical bills. If they’re
really hurt, you may also owe for other damages such as pain and suffering or lost wages
associated with the accident, and this is a
pretty claim-conscious country right now.
You want to get hooked up with an insur-
ance company that will represent you well
throughout the whole process. Once some-
one sues you or comes after you for compen-
sation, we protect you up to the policy limits.
We say, “We’ll deal with this claim. We’ll deal
with the lawyers. We’ll deal with the claimant.
And we’ll settle these claims.”
What you don’t want to end up with is
not having enough protection so that you
have to dig into your pockets or put your
other assets at risk. C