Our tables rating individual companies will be more valuable to you if you know how the data were gathered and how they should be interpreted.

Opinion Surveys

We surveyed area Checkbook and Consumer Reports subscribers for their feedback on services they have used. We also surveyed a random sampling of other area consumers. On our surveys, we ask consumers to rate their experiences with companies they had most recently used on several aspects of service. Our ratings tables show the percent of each company’s surveyed customers who provided a rating of “superior” (as opposed to “inferior” or “adequate”) for questions on our survey. We sometimes also report the percent of surveyed customers who rated each company “adequate” or “superior” (as opposed to “inferior”) for the “overall quality” question on our survey.

We have included on our ratings tables all of the companies for which we received at least 10 ratings on our customer surveys. If a company is not listed on our ratings tables, it simply means we did not receive at least 10 ratings for it.

Since many companies were rated by rather small numbers of raters, small differences between two firms in the percentage of raters who gave a particular rating (say, “superior”) should be ignored. The table below gives a rough guide to minimum differences you should look for in deciding on one company over another.

When using these survey data, remember that the questions are to some degree subjective and that the differences among companies might be explained by differences in the personalities, backgrounds, critical standards, and other characteristics of the raters or by biases these raters might have.

Timeliness of the Data

All of the data must be interpreted in view of timeliness.

Our customer survey data are from surveys conducted from January 2016 to August 2020. Survey respondents were asked to report on experiences in the preceding year. Our price data were collected in December 2019 and January 2020. Our survey of auto body shops asking for their ratings of auto insurers was conducted in February 2020.

Top Ratings

We give checkmarks to companies that score highest on a scoring system that we devise for each service field. Our scoring systems weight the various data in our tables and text based on our subjective judgment of their importance. Since the scores are based entirely on information presented, you can apply your own subjective judgments, and decide whether you prefer companies we have not given checkmarks. Where we do not have important data on a company, we cannot give our checkmark.
 

A Rough Guide for Deciding Whether the Difference Between Two Percentages is Important If one company had this number of ratings: And a second company had this number of ratings: Do not give much importance to the difference between the frequency with which the two companies experience a particular rating or result unless the difference is at least this many percentage points:
Assuming the average of the two companies' percentages is 50 percent 10
30
60
120
10
30
60
120
45
26
18
13
Assuming the average of the two companies' percentages is 80 percent 10
30
60
120
10
30
60
120
36
21
15
10