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Insurance Buyers Kick Off Purchase Process on Mobile, Finish Offline

Research from call tracking firm finds that customers flock to mobile devices to begin their search for coverage, but still lean on a local touch.

Half of consumers report that they begin their search for insurance coverage on a mobile device, according to research from Telmetrics, a call tracking company. But when it comes to closing the deal, more than half of those searchers still turn to offline channels.

The research indicates that insurance is a true multichannel industry at this point in time, says Telmetrics CEO Bill Dinan.

"There's a lot of research out there in mobile, but it's generalized, and we realized by different categories convert at different rates on mobile," he says. "Insurance is very interesting. It is more of a cross-media type industry than I had imagined."

While many consumers are leaning heavily not just on mobile, but PC-based internet searches during the information-gathering process, when it comes time to convert they tend to pick up the phone, the research found. Forty-four percent of insurance buying processes that began online ended on the phone, and those phone calls are about evenly split between calling a "home office" or a local agent.

"One of the things you see here is that the majority of purchasers are looking for an insurance location within five miles of them" even if they don't call that agent during the process, Dinan says. "In insurance, it's people looking for a national brand with a local presence -- someone they can talk to if they really need to."

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But the potential remains for increased sales through the mobile channel. A quarter of mobile searches ended up with a sales conversion through the mobile channel as well. Tablets are more popular than smartphones with those consumers, Dinan says.

"Insurance companies should realize that a lot of research is happening on a tablet, and they should optimize for that," he says. "If you can hook those users in the early research phase, they will follow through."

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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