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Personal Lines Customers Still Prefer to Buy from Agents

U.S. consumers are turning to digital sources for insurance quotes and other information, but still prefer personal contact with agents when purchasing insurance products, according to an Accenture survey of more than 4,000 U.S. automobile and home insurance customers...
April 24, 2013

U.S. consumers are turning to digital sources for insurance quotes and other information, but still prefer personal contact with agents when purchasing insurance products, according to an Accenture survey of more than 4,000 U.S. automobile and home insurance customers. Among the findings:

  • More than three-quarters (76 percent) of consumers express a preference for setting up and paying for their auto and home insurance policies in person with an agent, and more than half (58 percent) indicate a preference for doing so via the Web.
  • When asked where they prefer to obtain quotes, 43 percent of respondents chose websites, while 26 percent chose over the phone and 26 percent said in person. A much smaller percentage (four percent) chose mobile applications.
  • Nearly one-third (32 percent) of respondents aged 18 to 24 said they prefer to obtain a quote in person; only the oldest respondents (aged 65 to 74) are more likely to prefer obtaining a quote in person (39 percent).
  • More than two-thirds (68 percent) of respondents aged 18 to 24 say they would be willing to pay more for personalized advice when purchasing an auto or home insurance policy.

“Much has been written about young consumers—with their strong propensity for Internet, social media, and mobile—fundamentally changing insurance distribution,” said Erik J. Sandquist, a managing director in Accenture Property and Casualty Insurance Services. “Our survey reveals that many young consumers desire personalized advice and are willing to pay more for it and a significant percentage prefers to obtain their quotes face-to-face.”

Sandquist adds that direct insurers continue to gain share as consumers grow increasingly comfortable buying policies online. “This means that insurers with an agency distribution model must adapt to customers’ changing preferences and integrate their agent networks with digital, mobile and social media capabilities.”

What It Means to Agents: This survey indicates a strong consumer preference for face-to-face interaction with insurance agents; significantly, this preference is stronger with younger consumers who are assumed to be most comfortable with buying online. The survey also tracks a rising comfort level with online insurance transactions, indicating that agencies offering digital options in addition to in-person contact are best positioned.

Accenture Survey: Personal Lines Customers Still Prefer Agents (National Underwriter 4/23/13)

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