Insurance distribution models continue to evolve in response to customer demand. In the first wave, insurers such as Progressive offered a way to quickly and easily request and compare quotes, bind and buy auto insurance policies online, sometimes at a steep discount to traditional "main street" agents.

Now, as many as half of small-business owners say they would be willing to buy insurance direct over the Internet, according to Deloitte's "Voice of the Small-Business Consumer" survey. And a fifth of those who bought property, general liability business-owners policies and professional liability insurance have initiated such a purchase online, either through an insurer's website or an aggregator site to shop multiple quotes. However, until recently, opportunities to do so haven't been widely available. Of those respondents, 21 percent had purchased individual auto, homeowner or life insurance online, Deloitte found, and nine of 10 were satisfied with that purchase.

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