Can Insurers Keep Up with Consumer Website Demands?

More and more insurance shoppers use smartphones (42%) and tablets (43%)—up 14 and 11% from 2014, respectively, according to the J.D. Power 2015 Insurance Website Evaluation Study (IWES).

And the 2014 Future One Agency Universe Study reports that independent agencies recognize this digital shift: 18% say clients are increasingly requesting apps to access agent/insurance information from mobile devices.

Is your agency’s mobile and digital presence on par with consumer demands? It may be time to take a closer look.

Measuring online consumer experiences among both shoppers looking for quotes and existing customers seeking policy servicing activities on a 500-point scale, the IWES finds that online shopping experience satisfaction improved 17 points to 369 since 2014, but service experience satisfaction declined five points to 420.

Valerie Monet, director of insurance practice at J.D. Power, attributes these divergent satisfaction shifts to industry-wide shifts in mobile and tablet website optimization. “Every insurance company’s customer base is going to be different,” she says. “It’s important for insurers to understand interaction channel preferences among their existing customers, as well as prospective shoppers that may be doing research on their website.”

As overall consumer demands continue to rise in regards to mobile, recognizing that a new shopper coming to a website has different needs than an existing customer becomes vitally important. While essential elements for current clients involve viewing policies and updating their profile, shopping customers may just need to request a quote.

“The most important aspect for shoppers is the ability to research policy information and request a quote,” Monet says, noting speedy quotes and frequent discounts are high on consumers’ wish lists when it comes to improving the quote process. Informational multimedia capabilities can also be key: 39% of survey respondents watched videos regarding policy information and found them helpful when navigating a website.

For existing customers, the IWES reports that insurance websites exceeded only 18% of customer’s expectations for the speed of paying a bill online—the biggest decline of all service-related tasks—and that 26% of consumers did not or only partially understood policy information. “Service satisfaction is higher when they completely understand their policy,” Monet says, adding that this may be an opportunity for agents to increase consumer education efforts.

The Agency Universe Study finds that effectively marketing on the Internet (46%) and keeping up with the pace of technology changes (39%) are among the top five technology challenges for agents—and many aren’t equipped with the finances and resources necessary to start the journey.

Where to start? One method taking storm is responsive design: “You only have to maintain one website for all of your devices—one shared pool of assets, and your messaging is consistent across all devices,” Monet says.

The strategy seems to be working: The IWES reports a satisfying experience among shoppers (373 responsive design vs. 365 traditional design) and current customers (421 responsive design vs. 420 traditional design) who used a responsive design website compared with a more traditionally designed website.

“Insurers that don’t address the demands may suffer,” Monet says. “There are customers out there that may choose to do business with a company that offers the communication and interaction channels they want.”

Morgan Smith is IA assistant editor.