It's happened – customers now like websites more than real insurance agents

New study's claims could shake the industry

It's happened – customers now like websites more than real insurance agents

Insurance News

By Ryan Smith

Insurance company websites have officially surpassed agents in terms of importance to client interaction and service, according to J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Auto Insurance Study. This is the first time in the study’s 21-year history that websites have surpassed agents.

“We’ve seen this trend developing for several years, but this is the first time that the digital channel has become the preferred means of interacting with auto insurers, exceeding one-on-one communication with agents,” said Robert Lajdziak, senior consultant for insurance at J.D. Power. “This has huge implications for the industry because it puts the focus squarely on digital investment to notably expand creating seamless customer touch points. It’s an area in which the major national carriers excel, versus hyper-local, albeit knowledgeable, agent networks.”

Key findings of the study include:

  • Digital investments pay dividends: Customer experience with auto insurers’ websites contributed more to satisfaction than agents, according to the study. Websites accounted for 34% of an average insurer’s total interaction score, while agents accounted for 33% of total interaction satisfaction. The trend toward increased reliance on the digital channel at the expense of the agent channel has been building for more than a decade, J.D. Power said.
  • Record-high satisfaction was driven in part by digital: Customers’ overall satisfaction with auto insurers hit a record high of 835 (out of a possible 1,000). National carriers like GEICO, State Farm and Allstate saw some of the most significant gains, aided by the growth of their digital channels.
  • Strong correlation between trust and overall satisfaction: On average, a one-point increase in trust (on a five-point scale) correlated with a 118-point increase in overall satisfaction, according to J.D. Power. However, despite the importance of trust, just 42% of auto insurance customers said they “strongly agreed” that they trusted their insurer.
  • Loyalty heavily influenced by claims history: Customers were least likely to renew their policies when part of an insurance claim was denied, the survey found. When customers made claims that were fully approved and settled, on the other hand, satisfaction was significantly higher.

Highest-ranking auto insurance brands by region

  • California: Wawanesa
  • Central: Auto-Owners Insurance
  • Florida: Allstate
  • Mid-Atlantic: State Farm
  • New England: Amica Mutual
  • New York: State Farm
  • North Central: GEICO
  • Northwest: GEICO
  • Southeast: Farm Bureau Insurance – Tennessee
  • Southwest: American Family and GEICO (tie)
  • Texas: Texas Farm Bureau

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