Esurance Leads Pack in Firm’s Study of Insurance Websites

Sound content and an accurate search function put Esurance’s website on top over other insurers in a recent study of the auto insurance industry’s online presence.

Consulting firm Customer Respect Group (CRG) released the findings Monday from its study, called “Auto Insurers Online Self-Service Report 2012: Leaders and Laggards,” that analyzed the websites of 20 major insurers using 35 tasks regularly performed by Web-surfing consumers. CRG noted that Esurance performed particularly well in its content, leading all other insurers in the category, and was the only insurer whose website search utility returned reliable results.

The website of Liberty Mutual placed second overall because of easy navigation; the insurer was ranked as the best in that category. GEICO, which was ranked third overall, was also commended for its website’s navigation, with the insurer placing second in the category behind Liberty Mutual.

Consumers are increasingly going to websites to manage their policies and get their questions answered, according to the study, but “the overall level of self-serve” on those websites remains weak because the industry has failed to catch up to consumer needs.

“There is a fundamental difference of opinion about the role of the website between insurers and consumers,” CRG said in a statement. “The consumer … goes to a company website to get things done, while companies seem to think that they go there for a great experience or just to kill time.”

The study found that consumers are confused by many websites from insurers that structure their online offerings like a corporate business, with many functional tasks repeated in different parts of a website or obscured by numerous “department-inspired sections such as Product, Claims Customer Service and Learning Centers.”

“Insurance websites need to be focused on consumer tasks,” the CRG said.

In fact, insurers fall short on several fronts in making their websites consumer-friendly with content that is “missing, repeated or poorly worded,” according to the study. Inconsistent language between several parts of one website and heavy use of jargon discourages visiting customers who want to complete specialized tasks like researching no-fault policies or retrieving auto insurance quotes without personal information.

“As consumers increasingly view auto insurance as a commodity when seeking multiple quotes, they will quickly abandon sites they cannot understand,” the CRG said.

About Charles Nguyen
Charles Nguyen is an enterprising journalist who reported for Patch.com and the Desert Dispatch and was the editor in chief of the Guardian (the twice-weekly newspaper at the University of California, San Diego) before coming to Online Auto Insurance News.

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