Personal Auto & The Online Customer

by Craig Weber, December 28, 2005


Boston, MA, USA December 28, 2005

Consumers’ views on online quoting, purchase, and service tools are evolving, and carriers may not be keeping pace.

Consumers have been gravitating toward using the Web to get quotes and purchase insurance, particularly for commoditized products such as personal auto insurance. But carriers might be surprised at just how important their online offering has become.

"Online services are no longer a novelty," says Craig Weber,senior analyst and author of the Celent report, : How to Focus on Things That Matter. "If you can’t provide solid online quoting capability and fairly robust self-service tools, you’re going to lose business to carriers that can."

Figure 1: Methods of Purchase

According to the report, 15% of consumers surveyed completed their most recent purchase of insurance online (see Figure 1). "Traditional channels are still thriving," Weber says. "But online methods now rival telephone-based sales, and every indication is that they will continue to grow."

In addition, the vast majority of consumers are getting multiple quotes before they buy, and a lot of that activity is online. "Even for agent-based sales, many consumers do some research online before they buy. That means that carriers need to really focus on their online presence," adds Weber.

Key trends discussed in the report include:

  • Preferred methods for researching and buying personal auto insurance.
  • Key drivers of carrier choice among consumers.
  • How consumer loyalty varies by carrier.
  • Payment and service preferences of auto insurance consumers, and how they relate to demographic variables such as gender, age, and income.
  • A comparison of the online quoting and purchase tools of the top 10 personal auto writers.

The report is based on a consumer survey conducted in August 2005.

A table of contents for the 42-page report is available online.

of Celent's Property/Casualty Insurance research service can download the report electronically by clicking on the icon to the left.  Non-members should contact for more information.


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Celent is a research and advisory firm dedicated to helping financial institutions formulate comprehensive business and technology strategies. Celent publishes reports identifying trends and best practices in financial services technology and conducts consulting engagements for financial institutions looking to use technology to enhance existing business processes or launch new business strategies. With a team of internationally based analysts, Celent is uniquely positioned to offer strategic advice and market insights on a global basis. Celent is a member of the Oliver Wyman Group, which is a wholly-owned operating unit of Marsh & McLennan Companies [NYSE: MMC].

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Table of Contents


Boston, MA, USA December 28,  2005

Return to report Abstract

Executive Summary 3
Introduction 6
  Key Questions 6
  Methodology 6
  Limitations 7
  About the Respondents 7
Researching & Buying Online 12
  Section Summary 12
  Research 13
  Importance of Multiple Quotes 15
  Current Purchase Behavior 15
  Looking to the Future 16
  Carrier Choice Drivers 19
  Difference Between Carriers 20
The Online Experience 22
  Section Summary 22
  Payment Preferences 24
  Switching Carriers 25
  Cross-Selling Opportunities 26
  Service Trends 27
Comparison of Online Auto Insurance Sites 31
  Section Summary 31
  Site Basics 31
  Getting Help Online 33
  Best Practices 36
Conclusions 37
Appendix A: The Survey 38
Objectivity and Methodology 41

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