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Matthew Sherwood/The Globe and Mail

Auto insurance is a sore spot for many Canadians. Many believe they are paying too much for premiums while receiving too little in return.

However, those perceptions are changing. An annual study released Wednesday indicates customer satisfaction with auto insurance has increased for the first time in five years.

The J.D. Power 2016 Canadian Auto Insurance Satisfaction Study – this is the ninth edition – measures customer satisfaction with Canadian auto insurers, factoring in non-claim interaction, price, policy offerings, billing/payment, and claims. Insurers were ranked in four regions: Alberta, Atlantic, Ontario and Quebec. Insurance is government-run in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

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Improvements were noted in each of the five categories, although pricing remained a problem.

In Ontario, for example, where the Liberal government promised to reduce auto insurance rates by 15 per cent, the survey said the percentage of customers who experienced a rate increase rose to 21 per cent, up from 20 per cent in 2015. However, Ontario saw the most significant improvement in customer satisfaction.

"Rate reductions rarely affect every customer equally, with lower-risk customers, who typically have lower rates to start with, frequently being the first, and sometimes only, customers to see an actual price decrease," said Valerie Monet, director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power. "Improvements in process and customer service benefit everyone and drive the overall improvements noted in Ontario."

The study, conducted between Jan. 21 and March 7, is based on replies from almost 11,000 auto insurance policy holders.

THE FINDINGS

Customer satisfaction (based on 1,000-point scale)

  • Overall 758 (+8 over 2015)
  • Quebec, 786 (+3)
  • Atlantic, 768 (+6)
  • Ontario, 753 (+9)
  • Alberta, 743 (+8)

Highest-ranking companies (by province)

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  • Alberta: The Co-operators, TD Insurance
  • Atlantic: The Co-operators, Intact
  • Ontario: The Co-operators, State Farm, Intact
  • Quebec: The Personal, Industrial Alliance, Promutel

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