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Lockton, XL lead J.D. Power insurance industry rankings

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Lockton Cos. L.L.C. was named the highest-performing insurance broker and XL Group Ltd. was the highest-performing insurer in J.D. Power & Associates’ 2016 customer satisfaction survey of the large commercial insurance sector, released Monday.

The Costa Mesa, California-based market research company said the study, now in its third year, measures customer satisfaction with commercial insurers and brokers.

Kansas City, Missouri-based Lockton, which got 863 points on the 1,000-point scale, was followed by Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. in the second spot with 823 points and Aon P.L.C. in third place with 811 points.

J.D. Power said the most significant single attribute driving the results for brokers is the quality of advice and guidance the broker provided, “demonstrating for the second consecutive year that brokers who have an in-depth expertise and establish a hands-on, consultative relationship with their clients are consistently driving the highest levels of customer satisfaction.”

The study, conducted from April to July of this year in conjunction with the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc., also shows the inverse to be true, J.D. Power said, noting that among the 20% of customers who said their broker does not completely understand their business needs, satisfaction declined by an average of 136 points.

XL, which got 773 points in the insurer rankings, was followed by CNA Financial Corp. with 767 points and Chubb Ltd. in third place with 765 points. The results, J.D. Power said, suggest “the most profitable insurers are able to support more flexible underwriting standards to meet customer needs more effectively.”

The study also points to a link between insurer profitability and overall customer satisfaction, J.D. Power said, “suggesting that the more profitable the book of business an insurer has, the greater the likelihood that the insurer will also have high levels of satisfaction.”

Lockton had a 40-point lead over the second-ranked broker and surpassed some of the largest names in the industry, according to the survey. Greg Hoeg, J.D. Power’s vice president of its U.S. insurance practice, said it can be easier for a smaller company to be more nimble and responsive to their customers’ needs.

Lockton is the ninth-largest insurance broker in the world, according to Business Insurance’s latest ranking.

“The fact is that with a soft market, competition on pricing isn’t as dynamic as it used to be,” Mr. Hoeg said. “The place where you really have to compete is going to be in terms of customer service. And to the extent that companies can stand out in some fashion, they’ll win. That’s a much more prominent need for smaller firms.”