Using a websites to service a current auto insurance policy is easier than using one to shop for a policy, according the “2013 Insurance Website Evaluation Study,” from J.D. Power & Associates. Among the 20 insurance websites studies, Esurance, GEICO and Progressive were found to perform particularly well for both shopping and servicing with their websites, J.D Power said.

The study examines website functionality rather than look and feel, the global marketing information services company said, and measures customers’ online shopping and service experiences on a scale of 1 to 5; 1 being “very difficult;” 3 being “neither difficult nor easy;” and 5 being “very easy.” Task ratings are used to compute an overall experience index, based on a 500-point scale; the industry average for the overall shopping index is 347, and 414 for the average overall servicing index.

“More than one-half of all insurance shoppers today use the Web to scout their options and many further seek to obtain quotes online,” said Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the global insurance practice. “Since policy shopping frequently includes the tasks of finding policy information and requesting a quote, it is understandable that customers who did not find those tasks to be particularly easy tend to abandon one brand in favor of others, often providing a low rating for that site.”

When customers can easily view their policies, change their contact information and perform other self-service activities, they are more likely to return to the site as well as recommend the insurer to friends and colleagues, J.D. Powers found.

The shopping evaluation included the following:

Requesting a quote

Comparing policies

Finding policy information

Finding discount information

Finding company contact information

After customers rate each task, each is weighted to determine the extent it influences the site’s usability. The most heavily weighted tasks, finding policy information was rate (3.6) and requesting a quote (3.8) were the hardest perform; company contact information was easiest (4.2).

Policy price is a significant factor in a purchase decision, a positive experience on the website can influence customer preferences; higher-rated sites that offer lower prices close the shopper’s business 90 percent of the time and higher-rated sites offering higher-quoted prices closes the business 60 percent of the time.

“Since customers indicate that finding contact information is easier than requesting a quote, at least some of them will use that contact information to obtain quotes by other means, such as contacting a company’s call center,” Bowler said. “The cost of using human resources to address these questions and requests is much higher than an automated system on a website, which means that companies may be able to realize savings by improving the process through which shoppers request quotes online.”

For the service portion of the study, customers evaluated :

Account log-in

Profile management

Paying bills

Viewing policy information

Researching claims processes

Requesting a replacement insurance ID card

Adding a driver or vehicle

Enrolling in paperless billing.

Bill payment received a 4.5 rating; printing or request a replacement insurance ID card and adding a driver or vehicle to a policy both were rated 4.2.

“A positive online experience for customers has measurable benefits for insurers, both in terms of existing customer satisfaction and attracting additional shoppers to their websites,” said Bowler.

Of those who said they had a positive experience, 68 percent said they “definitely will” return, compared with 21 percent of those who had negative experiences; and 65 percent of those who had a positive experience said they “definitely will” recommend the website to others. Conversely, 16 percent who had a negative online experience said they “definitely will” recommend the website to others.

Companies included in the study (in alpha order):

Allstate

American Family

Ameriprise

Amica Mutual

Auto Owners Insurance

Erie Insurance

Esurance

Farmers

GEICO

Liberty Mutual

Mercury

MetLife

Nationwide

Progressive

Safeco

State Farm

The Hartford

Travelers

21st Century

USAA

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Digital Insurance content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access