It can be tricky when shopping for insurance to try and choose the right insurance company. You can look at the reviews of customers and study the ratings given by insurance rating organizations such as A. M. Best or Fitch to discover how financially secure a company is to help you make this decision. Another helpful tool is to check out an insurance company’s record with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to find out how a company handles and resolves customer complaints.
About the Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau was first founded in 1912 as a non-profit organization as a way for consumers to find reputable businesses in the marketplace. The BBB has become a trusted name to find reliable information and business reviews. There are over 100 BBB independent organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada with company headquarters located in Arlington, Virginia. The BBB is not related to or regulated by any federal agency.
While a company is under no obligation to seek BBB accreditation, it is a way for consumers to know that the company cares about resolving any consumer complaints. BBB accreditation and membership is optional for companies. Even companies who are not members are eligible to receive assistance in resolving customer complaints. To be eligible for BBB accreditation, it must meet eight BBB Standards.
- Build trust
- Advertise honestly
- Tell the truth
- Be transparent
- Honor promises
- Be responsive
- Safeguard privacy
- Embody integrity
The BBB will give you general information about a company including the type of company and entity, its licensing and contact information, the number of employees, service area, business category, key employees, location and any alternate business names. In addition, you can see if the insurance company you are searching for has a BBB rating and whether there are any government actions regarding the company’s marketplace conduct.
Until 2008, BBB ratings were either listed as satisfactory or unsatisfactory. Now, it uses an A-F rating system. Here are some of the factors used to determine a company’s BBB rating:
- Type of business
- Time in business
- Competency licensing
- Complaint volume
- Unanswered complaints
- Unresolved complaints
- Serious complaints
- Complaint analysis
- Complaint resolution delays
- Failure to address complaints
- Government action
- Advertising review
- Background information
If a company has an “NR” or “No Rating” listed, it means that the BBB did not have sufficient information about the business to assign a rating. The BBB gives a disclaimer that the BBB grade is not a guarantee of a business’ reliability or performance.
Filing a Complaint With the BBB
When the BBB receives a complaint or dispute from a consumer against a company, it contacts the organization with an offer to help mediate this dispute. The organization is not required to be a member of the BBB to receive its assistance. You can use the BBB’s online complaint form to file a dispute against a company. The company is forwarded the complaint within two business days and it has 14 days to respond to your complaint. You will be notified of the company’s response to your complaint when it is received by the BBB.
The Bottom Line
Shopping for insurance and trying to get the best value on an insurance policy is never an easy task. It pays to do your homework and find a reputable insurance company with financial stability and with a strong customer service record. When you view an insurance company’s BBB file, you can see the customer complaints filed, read how the company responded, how the issue was solved and whether the customer was satisfied with the response provided. Just think about how important this information is to know—how is your insurance company going to respond to you if you have a problem? The information provided by the Better Business Bureau is another tool you can use to help you find the right company for your insurance needs.