Although price should be your primary consideration when shopping for auto insurance, you’ll want to consider it in relation to the quality of service companies provide, especially their claims-handling service. Our auto insurance comparison tool shows you how area auto insurance companies stack up on price and quality.

Our Survey of Policyholders

We asked area consumers (primarily Checkbook and Consumer Reports subscribers) who had recently made auto insurance claims to rate their companies “inferior,” “adequate,” or “superior” on several elements of service. Our auto insurance comparison tool shows what percentage of policyholders rated each company “superior” on each survey question. Click here for a further description of our policyholder survey and other research methods and how to interpret them.

Our ratings reveal big differences in how customers rated companies. For “speed of claim payment,” for example, scores range from 51 percent for MetLife to more than 90 percent for Amica and USAA.

Ratings from Auto Body Shops

We also asked area auto body shops to rate the insurers “poor,” “fair,” “good,” “very good,” or “excellent” on “treating their customers (car owners) fairly.” Our auto insurance comparison tool shows the percent of surveyed shops that rated each company “good,” “very good,” or “excellent,” and the number of ratings each company received.

Surveyed shops gave highest marks to Amica, Arbella, Norfolk & Dedham, Quincy Mutual, and USAA. Shops rated Allstate, Ameriprise, and Progressive lowest.

Complaints

Another way to assess quality is to look at the number of complaints filed against each company with state regulators. While policyholders might rate a company less than “superior” if its deficiencies are minor, filing a formal complaint with a government regulatory agency presumably reflects serious dissatisfaction.

Our auto insurance comparison tool reports counts of private passenger auto insurance complaints filed with the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation during 2011, 2012, and 2013, the most recent years for which data were available when we checked. It also reports a “complaint rate,” which takes into account the fact that companies that do much more business than others are likely to incur more complaints. It is calculated as the number of complaints per $10 million in private passenger auto insurance premiums written.