The behaviors and expectations of consumers shopping for insurance have changed over the last few short years, and in order to appeal to them these days, insurers will need to use a high-performance digital environment to provide an experience that brings agent interaction together with online insurance technology research capabilities.
An ever increasing number of insurance companies are now discovering that the internet is the place where the majority of customer relationships begin. Customers are using digital media – such as the internet, blogs, social networking, and video – on their desktop computers, laptops, smartphones (mobile commerce), and tablets, to gain access to a wide and instant mass of information.
With this access, they are performing searches, educating themselves, and obtaining recommendations regarding the insurance providers, products, and services that are available to them. In fact, there are now more American consumers who are using the internet to interact with insurance companies than there are who use the phone. Digital channels have become the primary preference for deciding which insurance products and services to purchase and from which insurer to buy them.
Within the American auto insurance sector – worth $158 billion – 72 percent of consumers used the internet to obtain information about vehicle coverage. Furthermore, within the last 12 months, 67 percent had obtained an online auto insurance quote. In 2009, there had been 38.8 million auto insurance quotes in the United States, alone, and this number is rapidly growing. An increasing number of people are also purchasing their auto insurance policies online. In 2009, that number had reached 2.8 million.
Though many may wonder if this shift toward the digital ecosystem will minimize the need for insurance agents, research has shown that among consumers who had the intention to purchase or renew their insurance within the next 12 months, 67 percent planned to do so through agents. The remaining 43 percent said that they intended to purchase or renew the product online.
No matter what choice the consumer makes for the channel that will be used for the purchase, it has become quite clear that the digital channel is the one that has the greatest influence over consumer insurance decisions.