The Missouri Department of Insurance has published a searchable database of more than 11,000 complaints for consumers wanting to shop for coverage. The consumer complaint index report contains filings from Missouri residents about both local and national insurance companies like State Farm and American Family, Missouri Department of Insurance spokesman Travis Ford said in an e-mail to Consumer Ally.
"It takes a few months for our statistics section to put this data together, and we usually release it about this time each year," Ford said.
The scores are compiled by taking the number of company complaints divided by the average company premium. That number is then divided by the number of the industry-wide complaints divided by the industry-wide premium. The result is multiplied by 100. A complaint index of 100 is considered average; higher numbers reflect a worse complaint record. The complaint index is a score, not the number of complaints about the company.
"The beauty of the complaint index is that it takes into account the size of an insurance company, rather than just looking at raw numbers of complaints," said Ford. "It takes into account the fact that 10 complaints might be a big deal for [a] small company, while 100 complaints might not be a big deal for a large company."
Consumer Ally searched the property and casualty complaint index and found 10 companies with index numbers far above others. Only companies with average premiums for 2007-2009 over $1 million were taken into account.
10. Civic Property & Casualty: Homeowners insurance company based in California; complaint index of 728.
9. Direct General Insurance Company: Automotive insurance offered in 13 states; complaint index of 1032.
8. Omni Indemnity Company: Automotive insurance out of Atlanta; complaint index of 1170.
7. Insuremax Insurance Company: Indiana-based automotive insurance company; complaint index of 1191.
6. Homesite Indemnity Company: Part of the larger Homesite Group which operates in 47 states; complaint index of 1284.
5. First Acceptance Auto Insurance: Automotive insurance in 25 states; complaint index of 1296.
4. Trader's Insurance Company: Missouri-based automotive insurer with Midwestern reach; complaint index of 1311.
3. Affirmative Insurance Services: Headquartered in Chicago and Dallas and offers auto insurance; complaint index of 1441.
2. American Service Insurance: Midwestern automotive company; complaint index of 1532.
1. Universal Casualty Company: Illinois-based automotive insurer; complaint index of 5520.
A spokeswoman from Universal Casualty Company and American Service Insurance, both Kingsway America companies, declined to respond with a comment to our phone request.
Insurance giant Allstate received an above average consumer complaint index of 239, while Progressive landed slightly above at 126. State Farm was below average for customer complaints, with an index of 76.
"We always say don't do business with strangers, so the more you can find out about your insurance company, the better," said Ford. "Checking their complaint index gives you a good feel for how they treat their customers."
Missouri database offers scores for insurers, good to bad