Shopping For Auto Insurance Goes Online

Auto insurance customers are increasingly looking to insurers’ websites in the early stages of the buying process, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study.

The study found that for the first time, a majority of new buyers of auto insurance  Ã¢â‚¬“ more than 54 percent  Ã¢â‚¬“  initiated their policy purchase by applying for a rate quote online.

J.D. Power noted that the importance of an insurer’s website in generating new business among new buyers has been increasing steadily for the past five years, at the expense of more traditional local agency or call center channels.

Now in its fifth year, the study examines consumer shopping and purchasing behaviors and overall satisfaction among buyers who recently purchased from an auto insurer across three factors: distribution channel; policy offerings; and price.

Within the distribution channel category, the study found the website now accounts for more than one-fourth of the importance weight, second to the local agent.

A press release quotes Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the global insurance practice at J.D. Power and Associates:

This transition to websites as the dominant lead-generation channel is an important shift for insurers to recognize and address in their marketing and sales strategies.

While nearly one-half of all accepted Web quotes are closed either by an agent or call center representative, customers are clearly more often looking to insurers’ sites or third-party sites in the early stages of the shopping process.†

The study was based on responses from more than 15,500 shoppers who requested an auto insurance price quote from at least one competitive insurer in the past 12 months.

For related information, check out the I.I.I. backgrounder on buying insurance: evolving distribution channels.

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