The auto insurance claims process can breed frustration for many drivers and lead to pessimism over the industry as a whole. However, a new study shows that the way in which insurance groups are fairly and effectively managing settlements has led to an uptick in customer satisfaction.

According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction survey, claimant satisfaction increased 6 percentage points to 852 this year. The study's authors relied on six measurements to judge satisfaction: first notice of loss, service interaction, appraisal, repair process, rental experience and settlement. While five of the six categories experienced modest upticks in 2012, the settlements factor increased the most – 9 percentage points – and is largely responsible for the overall climb in satisfaction.

The study's authors noted that fairness throughout the claims process was the leading reason Americans remained content with their insurance agency.

"Providing exceptional customer service is an important element in driving the perception of being treated fairly," said Jeremy Bowler, J.D. Power and Associates insurance group senior director. "Claimants' perception of fairness is more than just the amount of the settlement, especially for repairable vehicles, where claimants are more focused on their vehicle being returned in its pre-accident condition."

Few individuals want to put in an insurance claim for fear of the time and cost that may be tied to the process. However, insurance marketing agencies can benefit by disclosing a step-by-step guide to the process, which can make the task less daunting to consumers. In addition, when drivers know how to proceed with a claim, there is a lower risk that mistakes will be made, which can speed up the processing time and lead to more satisfied customers.

The Lift Factor is a leading marketing resource in the financial services and insurance industry, providing its clients with the most accurate, timely and relevant information in meeting their needs.