I saw some consumer data recently that suggested insurers have weathered the financial crisis better than banks and capital markets firms. Not in terms of finances—although that may be true in many cases—but in terms of consumer opinions.

As an industry, before this period of uncertainty we were viewed on par with used car dealers and cell phone companies. Now we are viewed, well, about the same. But at least we didn’t lose ground, or the trust of our customers. Thank the regulators, or maybe a culture of conservatism, for keeping us mostly out of trouble.

Of course the battle for consumer mindshare is never ending. That’s why the current crop of TV commercials being aired by insurers concerns me. Some national companies are positioning themselves as feeling their customers’ pain. Call me a cynic, but I have trouble imagining a set of consumers who get a warm, fuzzy feeling as they think about their insurers. As a consumer myself, I don’t care whether my insurers feel my pain. I just want good service, good value and integrity. Besides, recession kvetching is already out of fashion.

Other insurers are making hard price comparisons. Their claims are in close parallel: They all talk about how much their customers saved when they switched. Assuming the stats are true (and I do), the obvious conclusion is that switching carriers can make sense, no matter what carrier you start with and what one you end up with. Do we really want to encourage consumers to constantly spreadsheet their providers? Is all that churn good for the industry?

I’d prefer to see insurers focusing on attracting and retaining customers for longer relationships. That means understanding the risks, pricing accordingly and delivering great service. And by eliminating switching costs, carriers ought to be able to reward customer longevity, and still improve their margins.

This blog has been reprinted with permission from Celent. Craig Weber is SVP of Celent's insurance group, and can be reached at cweber@celent.com.

The opinions posted in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News or SourceMedia.

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