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Jay Basnight, Watchfire GómezPro
Jay Basnight, Watchfire GómezPro
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Trimming Online Quote Forms

In order to return an accurate and actionable quote, many questions must be asked of the customer, but carriers must also present them in ways not overwhelming to the user.

As highlighted in previous briefs, Watchfire GómezPro supports the view that online auto quote processes are a very effective way of enticing new business for insurance carriers. Given that new business is usually obtained only after an online quote is offered through the successful completion of the form's questions, firms must collect the required information in a way that is clear, effective and not time consuming for the user. In order to return an accurate and actionable quote, many questions must be asked, but carriers also must present them in ways not overwhelming to the user.

In the insurance industry, online quote processes vary widely by number of pages and number of questions presented. Some firms display a number of short, succinct pages that ask only a few questions, while others require the user to answer numerous questions on much longer pages. Earlier in the New Year, GEICO removed a considerably lengthy page from their quote application and replaced it with an application that features more pages with fewer questions on each page.

This brief will analyze the differences among the quote processes offered by Allstate, Nationwide, Progressive and State Farm by observing both the number of pages and number of questions required to return a quote, as well as analyzing the presentation of the quote materials. For the purpose of this analysis, quotes were obtained for a single male living in the state of Colorado with one vehicle and no violations. What follows are the three main approaches to quote layout taken by industry carriers:

Fewer pages with more questions
Fewer pages means shortened and ultimately more convenient load times for dial-up quote seekers. However, since there are normally many questions required of a user, fewer pages sometimes will result in longer pages with more questions to answer on each page. There are several difficulties that can arise with longer pages. First, the user is required to do a considerable amount of scrolling to view all required fields. This can result in missed questions and tends to make the process feel longer, with less obvious progress points. This also can be a problem if inputted information turns up an error and the user needs to search for the disputed entry (or even loses all of his entries). Nationwide asks a total number of 54 questions putting the firm right in the middle of the pack. However, Nationwide asks those questions on the fewest number pages of all the firms in this brief (6) and asks the most average number of questions per page (9) of the four carriers analyzed.

More pages with fewer questions
More pages can be cumbersome for users with dial-up connections if they need to update or change information on a previous page. However, for users with faster connections, completing each page quickly provides a sense of progress. However, this also can be a burden if the quote progress meter does not accurately reflect the progress made and how many pages users still need to complete. Allstate and State Farm both require a user to complete 10 pages before a quote is provided, but State Farm asks fewer questions (45) and therefore has fewer average questions per page (4.5). Allstate, in comparison, asks 61 questions for an average of 6.1 questions per page. State Farm keeps its pages short with only a few questions, and each page is rarely longer than the user's screen.

Shorter pages with fewer questions.
The primary goal of the quote application is to provide the user with an accurate quote. This can be achieved only if the carrier receives all necessary information. However, the carrier does not need to build a "one-size-fits-all" quote form that asks superfluous or repetitive questions for some users. Progressive asks considerably fewer questions (31) than any other carrier reviewed, but has roughly the same amount of questions per page (4.4) as State Farm because Progressive only requires seven pages. Progressive's quote relies on contextual relevancy and data fill technologies that make for a more tailored user experience. Progressive's quote pages are almost never longer than a user's screen and can be completed without scrolling. Errors can be noticed immediately without searching up and down a page.

There are many ways to provide a comfortable online experience for users completing the quote process. To return an accurate quote, much data is required and must be asked of a user. The ultimate goal should be to eliminate as many barriers to completion by providing the questions in the clearest and most understandable manner. Some firms take the approach of providing only a few pages, each of which are replete with many questions, while others move users through numerous, but shorter pages. Short of implementing technologies that allow for more intuitive quote processes with fewer total questions, carriers must determine the appropriate balance between number and length of pages.

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