J.D. Power: On Websites, Auto Insurance Service Bests Shopping

Thousands of consumers visiting auto insurance websites say those sites are better with servicing their policies than meeting their shopping needs, according to a recent study from J.D. Power and Associates.

The 2013 Insurance Website Evaluation Study evaluated “functional aspects” of 20 auto insurers’ websites and scored the average service index for all websites at 414, compared with 347 for the shopping index on a 500-point scale.

The study measured website evaluations through five shopping factors on a 1 through 5 scale:
–Requesting a quote
–Comparing policies
–Finding policy information
–Finding discount information
–Finding company contact information

The hardest shopping tasks to perform on websites were retrieving policy information (3.6) and requesting quotes (3.8), while finding company contact information was the easiest (4.2), according to the study.

The study also looked at website evaluations through seven service factors on a 1 through 5 scale:
–Account log-in
–Bill payment
–Viewing policy information
–Researching claims processes
–Requesting a replacement ID card
–Adding a driver or vehicle
–Enrolling in paperless billing

The easiest service tasks on websites were paying bills (4.5), requesting replacement coverage ID cards (4.2) and modifying policies for more drivers or vehicles (4.2).

Website Service Has Role in Customer Retention

The Insurance Website Evaluation Study, the second go-around for J.D. Power, expands on last year’s research, surveying seven more insurers’ websites and thousands more evaluations from website users.

Like last year, J.D. Power noted GEICO and Esurance for overall website quality again this year; Progressive was also mentioned this year for performing “particularly well” in both service and shopping needs.

J.D. Power found in its latest study that websites with easy-to-complete service tasks will generate more visitors who both return to the website and recommend the auto insurer to acquaintances. At the same time, the survey found that a bad online experience can hurt the chances for either of those things happening.

Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed with a positive experience at an insurer’s website had said they would “definitely” use it again, far above the 21 percent who said the same with a website where they had a negative experience. The study found a similar gap between those who would recommend it to others, with 65 percent responding that they would “definitely” recommend a website after a good experience, compared to 16 percent who had a negative experience.

“A positive online experience for customers has measurable benefits for insurers, both in terms of existing customer satisfaction and attracting additional shoppers to their websites,” Jeremy Bowler, J.D. Power’s senior director for the global insurance practice, said in a statement.

Also, website quality may temper the role that coverage prices play into a consumer’s decisions, according to the study, which found that most higher-rated sites still complete purchases at a rate of 60 percent even when they offer higher-quoted prices.

In the study’s inaugural release last year, J.D. Power also emphasized the importance of a “fast and simple” quote process, highlighting a 245-point swing in overall satisfaction between shoppers who received quotes faster than expected compared with those who received them slower than expected.

Switching ‘Particularly Easy’ For Dissatisfied Website Users

The importance of an insurer’s website is increasingly crucial, especially in light of another recent J.D. Power study that shows auto insurance shoppers are switching companies at an all-time high rate.

It is “particularly easy” for consumers to ditch a company for another if they find tasks difficult to complete online, Bowler said in this year’s study.

In J.D. Power’s study published last month, the research firm reported that 24 percent of those surveyed said an insurer’s website played a vital role in their insurance purchase, up from 22 percent in the previous year. A recent consumer survey from Accenture showed that websites are used for coverage shopping while agents are used for coverage purchases.

About Ben Zitney
Benjamin Zitney has been covering the auto insurance industry for the past 2.5 years. Before coming to Online Auto Insurance News, he produced an extensive company history of the 30-year-old California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and worked at the Cal State Long Beach Daily Forty-Niner as a reporter, copy editor and news editor.

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