The American Innovation Index

Customers Identify the Most Innovative Auto, Property, Casualty Insurance Providers

USAA took the No. 1 spot among auto, property and casualty insurance providers in the third annual American Innovation Index™, which measures how customers experience innovation in doing business with their insurance providers. USAA also ranked at the top on customer perceptions of being socially innovative.

The American Innovation Index™ is a project of Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business, New York; the Norwegian School of Economics, Bergen, Norway; and market research firm Rockbridge Associates Inc., Great Falls, Va.  The index score is based on the customer perceptions of companies as being innovative, creative, pioneering and transformational.

Following San Antonio, Texas based USAA, the top 5 auto, property and casualty insurance providers (from highest to lowest) included:

  • Geico
  • American Family Insurance
  • Allstate, and
  • Progressive Insurance

The study also had customers evaluate institutions on the Social Innovation Index™, which includes perceptions of the company caring for and innovating for the greater good of society and the environment.  The top 5 ranked institutions, starting with the highest, consisted of USAA, Geico, American Family Insurance, Liberty Mutual, and Allstate.

“Our research shows that brands are viewed as more innovative when customers notice changes in the products and services, the ease and speed of service delivery, customer care and physical and digital presence,” Charles Colby, Principal at Rockbridge Associates and the chief methodologist for the study.

The scores are based on the experiences of consumers interacting with auto, property and casualty insurance providers over a 12-month period.  In the auto, property and casualty sector, ease of business, responsive customer service, and unique discounts and deals are top factors driving customer perceptions of innovativeness. Customers pinpoint efficiency, original ways of submitting claims, and being kept up to date as innovative developments in the industry.

Social innovation consists of perceptions of a company being a leader in and placing a priority on benefiting society and the environment. In the auto, property and casualty industry, customers focus on solutions that promote environmental sustainability, as well as incentives for behaviors that promote green energy. At the national level, customers notice efforts in the industry to go paperless, as well as rewarding good driving behaviors, driving energy efficient vehicles, and giving discounts to customers who are in school and in good academic standing.

One specific area that may stand out to customers and led to rating USAA high in innovation is the implementation of “USAA Labs.” Through USAA Labs, members get a first look of newly launched innovations. It gives members a chance to enroll in some of these pilot programs. For instance, USAA partnered with Google Cloud Work to simplify the claims experience. Together, both companies developed machine learning models that will allow nearly real time damage estimates from digital images. In the auto sector, USAA partnered with CarAdvise®, an online marketplace for vehicle maintenance and repairs. With over 20,000 locations nationwide, customers can choose where they want their vehicle serviced and reduce human interaction and enable social distancing due to Covid-19.

USAA also continues to be involved in local communities by adopting business practices that preserve the environment. “USAA increased their recycling and going fully paperless efforts aggressively in the past couple of years. In their San Antonio headquarters alone, USAA saves millions of gallons of water a year through recycling efforts, thus, conserving adequate water supply to the community, reducing pollution, and conserving fuel resources,” said Charles Colby.  USAA also invests in programs that encourage educators to continue developing their professional development, provides local families and individuals basic needs resulting from hunger and homelessness, and has a strong presence in natural disaster response.

In general, the auto, property and casualty insurance industry performs slightly higher than other sectors on their innovation index, according to the study. Out of 173 companies, the American Innovation Index™ Scores range from 84.2 (by top-ranked Ikea) to 51.4, with the median score being 68.2. USAA (76.7), Geico (71.9), American Family Insurance (70.0), and Allstate (69.0) are the companies in the industry that landed above the median.

Ikea took the No. 1 spot overall in the survey this year, proving the most innovative companies are not always tech firms. Apple (No. 2), Trader Joe’s (No. 3), John Deere (No. 4), and Weber (No. 5), a manufacturer of grilling equipment, complete the top 5 customer-perceived most innovative companies. Major tech brands such as Twitter (No. 71) and Facebook (No. 137) lag behind.

“This year, the American Innovation Index™ observed an across the board increase in innovation scores by companies, a phenomenon driven by their response to the unprecedented challenges caused by the pandemic, economy and social movements.  While most companies were seen as more innovative than in the past, the ones that leap to the top of their industry will experience the most positive growth and financial performance,” said Lerzan Aksoy, professor of marketing at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business. “The American Innovation Index™ is unique because it recognizes the companies with the highest innovation index scores based on customer ratings.”

“Companies can excel in satisfaction, but if they do not deliver an innovative customer experience, they face extinction in challenging times as we experienced in 2020,” said Gina Woodall, President of Rockbridge. “Your industry does not matter. For example, among supermarkets, Trader Joe’s is an innovation leader while other supermarkets rank near the bottom.”

The American Innovation Index™ study was conducted in July 2020 and covers 173 firms from 20 industries. The researchers surveyed 5,012 consumers and covered more than 23,000 customer-company relationships.