In the business world and maybe even within the much smaller world of insurance technology journalism there's always a tendency to over-hype the latest and greatest, whether that be in terms of a new technology or a new trend in the marketplace.
That said, there's one trend that I'm seeing that seems to be under-hyped: how growing numbers of consumers, when considering a new purchase, first turn to the internet in an effort to educate themselves on a given field or topic. As this "self-help" trend continues, there may be opportunities for insurers to turn their web sites (and the consumer-facing tools within it) into major drivers for brand loyalty, by not only providing service to existing customers, but more information to the general public.If a recent study from eHealth, the parent company of eHealthInsurance, is any indication, there certainly is a need for trustworthy, informative web sites that consumers can turn to when looking to educate themselves in preparation of making an insurance product decision.
According to the study, less than one quarter of respondents said they were very sure of what the terminology in their health insurance policy actually means. And forget all terms, even basic industry acronyms like HMO (36 percent), PPO (20 percent) and HSA (11 percent) are a mystery to many of the 1,010 U.S. adults that were surveyed.
So what does it mean? Well eHealthInsurance, not surprisingly, suggests that side-by-side comparisons of policies would be a good place to start (and their study backs that up). But I think the answer might be simpler. If an insurer created web tools that focused on educating consumers -- perhaps in designated areas of their web site that went easy on the cross-sell and up-sell -- it might be able to establish itself not just as a trusted source insurance products, but as a first-choice destination for general insurance questions and information.