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11:43 AM
Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter
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Analysis from Watchfire GomezPro: Divergent Approaches to Auto Insurance Quotes

Today, insurance carriers, especially direct ones, are prioritizing auto insurance quoting above any other online initiative.

Today, insurance carriers, especially direct ones, are prioritizing auto insurance quoting above any other online initiative. Oddly, unlike other industries, there is not yet agreement within the industry on the best way to implement online strategy relative to quoting.

This brief will highlight the divergent approaches taken by four direct auto insurance carriers, 21st Century, Esurance, GEICO and Progressive, in allowing users to arrive at, view and modify an auto insurance quote, and will identify particular approaches that, while not currently the industry standard, should and could be standards.

Arriving at Your Quote

Today, there is no convergence in the industry for how quote seekers at different carriers arrive at a quote, let alone how quotes are then presented. Most carriers still make users choose individual coverage levels before they are eligible to receive a quote. Some, like GEICO still require individual limit/deductible choices before providing a quote, but pre-fill the most common choices for the user, thereby providing some level of assistance in the process. Increasingly, however, carriers are providing means to reach a quote without selecting individual coverage limits. Some carriers such as The Hartford's AARP offering give the user the option to conveniently bypass individual coverage limit choices by allowing them to select amongst several coverage packages (e.g., minimum, regular, premium, etc.) before receiving their quote. Still others including 21st Century and Progressive do not require the user to select individual coverage limits or packages before receiving a quote. Instead, users skip this step altogether and go directly to the quote results page where they are offered multiple quoted packages, and from there can choose a package or modify the individual coverage limits.

Different Ways to Present Multiple Quotes

There are subtle yet important differences in how different carriers display multiple quoted packages on the quote results page. While both Progressive and 21st Century deliver multiple quoted packages to the user, Progressive goes one step further by suggesting one coverage package over the others based on responses during the quote. While both carriers list four or more quote packages on the results page, with corresponding prices, Progressive uses the majority of the initial results page to deliver the details of the suggested package's quote. 21st Century, meanwhile, delivers no quote details on the initial page and users must click on one of the packages first in order to view details. Progressive also offers an option no other carrier has, a pop-up comparison chart that lists all coverage limits and deductibles for all five packages on a single page. While GEICO does require the user to select individual limits during the quote, its results page leads with the details of its custom quote, but also offers the option of viewing four different quote packages, which are listed by name only and don't include the cost until clicked. While this saves the carrier money by not delivering multiple quotes to the user until requested, it lessens the incentive to investigate alternative packages further.

Presenting the Details of Individual Quotes and Facilitating Modifications

When designing a quote results page, carriers must choose what information to disclose, how to lay out the details, whether to provide help in the form of definitions and how to support quote modifications. GEICO, Esurance and 21st Century provide easily digested layouts with separate distinct columns for coverage type, limit and price (ex: bodily injury, $100,000/$200,000, $91.60).

GEICO is the only carrier of the four that does not allow users to click on an individual coverage type and receive a pop-up definition. This makes it harder for the user to know whether coverages are appropriate or if they need to be modified. Further, once a GEICO user decides to make modifications, they must click the "Change Coverage" button and arrive at a new page before making changes.

Esurance, 21st Century and Progressive present coverage limits via drop-downs and a user can modify coverage selections directly from the quote details page. While Progressive's combining of the limit and price column is not ideal in terms of layout, it does allow users to see the price of each alternate limit before selecting it. As new limits are selected at 21st Century and Progressive, the page dynamically updates to display new limits, prices and total. Esurance requires users to hit a "recalculate" button after modifying limits. While modifications to drivers or vehicles from the quote results page are more rare, Progressive is the only firm that provides explicit links for these changes.

Don't Forget the Discounts

Overlooked by many carriers is the clear messaging of discounts when delivering a quoted policy, which can be a key selling point. While all carriers offer discounts in one way or another, most fail to highlight this in a personalized manner within quote results. GEICO does the best job presenting discounts, stating at the very top of the quote results page the total savings in discounts that are included in the quote and then following up at the bottom of the page with the specific discounts they qualified for, the savings attributed to each and definitions.

Progressive does not present discounts as prominently, but does list specific discounts applied on the right side of the page and provides a link to greater detail.

While differences in how carriers present the returned quote details page appear subtle, they affect the user experience significantly. The user that is able to most easily compare available quote packages, determine what each limit covers and determine price differences between options for each limit is more likely to be confident in their choices and able to move forward. Ultimately though, the area where one can expect some level of future convergence is how users arrive at quotes.

Many carriers that have traditionally relied upon agent forces are hesitant to suggest specific coverage limits or offer coverage packages that might not be ideal for the specific quote seeker. However, online users who prefer human advice or validation before purchasing are precisely the ones that need greater assistance choosing coverages online. It is established convention in the industry that online quote seekers desire a quote they have confidence in before moving to the next step. In addition to being less sure of their ability to choose coverage limits on their own, online quote seekers who lean toward agent-based carriers also require confidence that their chosen limits roughly resemble what the agent will later customize for them. Otherwise there is no confidence in the quote's accuracy and the entire process has been a moot exercise. Quote packages offer both a ballpark estimate of the spectrum of coverages/prices and a starting point for making individual limit adjustments, either online or offline. While packages may not assure the user that individual coverage levels are calibrated exactly as they should be, they do succeed in getting users unsure of desired coverage limits closer to the purchase stage.

Tim Carpenter is an insurance industry analyst with Watchfire GomezPro in Waltham, MA. He can be reached at [email protected]

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