Online consumer rating and comparative quoting tools got off to a great start in the late 1990s. InsWeb, one of the first online insurance marketplaces to emerge, and was even named by Yahoo as one of the 50 most useful sites on the internet in 1999. At the turn of the century, it was a foregone conclusion that insurance and the internet would work well together.
But in the years that followed, online rating and comparative quoting tools have failed to keep pace with consumers’ digital expectations. After a solid start, progress with online marketplaces essentially stalled, according to Laird Rixford (pictured), CEO of Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC). For the past decade, consumer raters have functioned like an online insurance form, creating a shopping experience that falls short of what insurance customers want and need today.
“It’s the same old boring form that asks the consumer for their name, address, VIN number, driver’s license, and so on – and it’s not a very fun or interactive process,” Rixford told Insurance Business. “Then, throughout the late 2000s and early 2010s, we saw a lot of insurtech companies coming in and looking to disrupt the online market by creating a consumer first experience for their visitors. That included fun, interactive, engaging online experiences, which have traditionally been out of reach from the agent and broker perspective.”
In a new whitepaper, titled ‘The Next Generation of Online Consumer Rating’ – which is free to download here – Rixford and the ITC team explain how insurance agents and brokers can learn from the insurtechs and up their customer experience game.
“Technology can be helpful to agents without replacing them,” the team states. “In the years since the start of the insurtech movement, it’s become obvious how important agents are. Anyone who assumed they can replace agents with chatbots and exclude those agents from the distribution chain are missing a critical piece of the industry. To remain relevant to today’s customers, agents and carriers must embrace technology while maintaining their personal touch. In a sense, agencies must discover how to think like an insurtech start-up while providing the value of an independent agent.”
One thing agencies must think about today is the mobile experience. Whether they offer an app or a mobile-first responsive website, that is now the minimum standard for the online shopping experience. The ITC whitepaper defines a mobile-first experience as one that “gives the user touch-friendly links and buttons and makes data entry easy.” It also incorporates time-saving technologies like driver’s license scanning and data prefill services so that consumers aren’t stifled by long and boring data entry forms.
“Next, they need to focus on making the online marketplace a fun, interactive and engaging place to be for consumers,” Rixford added. “That might include personalizing the shopping experience for clients, and making the process more visually engaging by using fun, lighthearted graphics. Insurtech start-ups know that the modern consumer does not want to buy insurance. Instead they expect to be sold through a fun, engaging process – and agents need to get on board with that.”
Only when agencies master the mobile experience and make use of time-saving technologies, like data prefill, to make the customer experience slick and efficient, will they be able to provide what Rixford describes as “an insurtech level customer experience”.
To learn more about how to create a best-in-class online consumer experience, download ITC’s free whitepaper ‘The Next Generation of Online Consumer Rating’.