Insurance Consumers are Wooed by the Web: Accenture

Over half say they'll consider switching providers in the next year.

Over half of global insurance consumers will likely switch providers in the coming year, and many will choose between their agents or the Web for home and auto coverage, according to Accenture.

Although the convenience of online quoting and sales is drawing more consumers away from their traditional insurance partners, there’s still opportunity for agents and brokers to step in and capitalize on their strengths, findings from the management firm’s latest survey reveals.

While the majority of consumers (59%) said they’d purchased at least one of their existing policies from an agent, fewer (49%) said they’d do so in the next 12 months. But the responses predict an upward trend for online sales–34% have purchased at least one policy online, and 43% plan to do so within the next year.

That choice is often played out with P&C sales, the survey found. Consumers prefer to use agents or websites for P&C policies (40%), while 32% turn to banks for life products. Overall, 53% said they would consider switching to a new provider within 12 months.

Convenience vs. confidence

But which of the sites meet consumer needs? The respondents–from the U.K., France, Germany, Brazil, Italy and Spain–cite problem resolution (75%), pricing transparency (70%) and product availability (64%) as their top criteria in choosing a provider.

This is where brokers and agents can keep–and even gain–ground. The respondents indicated that agent and brokers were best at solving problems and finding products that best suit a client, while websites were touted for their pricing  and accessibility.

“For consumers, finding the lowest priced coverage is simply not enough. Quality of service at the first notice of loss and the ability of the insurer to provide prompt claims settlements are pivotal to customer loyalty and satisfaction,” Serge Callet, global managing director of Accenture’s insurance practice, said in a statement accompanying the findings.

Just over a third (35%) of respondents said they’re willing to pay more for personalized advice when buying a policy.

What about banks?

Banks–long seen as the top competitor for insurers–are also losing ground to the web. But they’re still benefiting from “one stop shop” convenience and 47% of respondents see banks as a trusted financial advisor. Still, only 15% of respondents say they’re sure they’ll buy an insurance product from a bank in the coming year.

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