Insurance websites are not keeping up with exceeding customer expectations, finds J.D. Power and Associates in its 2016 Insurance Digital Evaluation Study.

Now in its fifth year, the report measures online consumer experiences for auto insurance shoppers seeking quotes and existing customers in search of typical policy assistance. This year’s study is based on responses from 3,854 shopping evaluations and 3,340 service reviews of auto insurance websites. Consumer ratings were used to compute an overall index for shopping and servicing experiences based on a 500-point scale.

Despite overall improvement in both the shopping and service categories, growth for insurers was minimal at just seven and four index points, respectively. Users found some of the more rudimentary tasks, like printing or requesting new or replacement ID cards, updating user profiles and adding a driver or vehicle to a policy, too difficult. Additionally, the speed of the quoting process and paying bills online exceeded only one-quarter of customer’s expectations, the study found.

“We find insurers are focusing more on digital and on the quoting experience,” said Valerie Monet, director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power. “Digital channels can improve their ability to acquire more business and help with simple needs. Customers won’t always dial into a call center for help so its vital insurers ensure their tech is ready before they push people toward it.”

Insurers' biggest problem may be communicating policy information to new and existing customers. Nearly one fourth of customers do not fully understand the policy information offered on insurance websites, the firm said.

“Companies are still struggling to communicate some of that more complex information to customers. They must find ways to educate people and make it easy for them to find what they are looking for,” said Monet. “It’s vital for insurers to remember customer perceptions are set by other websites they use regularly, such as banking or shopping sites.”

Among the 20 insurance companies included in the study, Esurance, GEICO, Mercury, Safeco and USAA performed the best in the service index, while Erie Insurance, Esurance, Liberty Mutual, Travelers and 21st Century topped the shopping index.

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