Ten years have passed since the Web made its debut, threatening to eliminate intermediaries in the insurance sales process. But, after all these years, only a small percentage of insurance consumers actually purchase their policies online.The Internet has evolved, however, and it serves an important role in insurance.
These are the findings of a recent survey of personal auto insurance policyholders conducted by Celent LLC, a Boston-based financial services research and advisory firm.
"The Web has proven an inconsistent substitute for the product advice, the process awareness, and the persistent call to action provided by agents," according to Celent analyst Craig Weber.
In fact, only 15% of consumers surveyed by Celent purchased their current auto insurance policy via a carrier's site (11%) or via a comparative Internet site (4%).
The majority preferred human contact: 63% purchased their auto policies from an agent and 20% bought theirs from the carrier by phone.
Still, online methods are gaining traction, especially for research and service, according to Celent.
For instance, 28% of consumers contacted their insurance company by e-mail when researching an auto policy, 43% used third-party comparative Internet sites and 49% used a carrier site.
Not surprisingly, neither technology nor the human touch trump price and policy features, which rank highest among factors consumers consider when buying auto insurance.
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