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Policy Administration

04:25 PM
Tim Carpenter, Watchfire GomezPro
Tim Carpenter, Watchfire GomezPro
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Analysis from Watchfire GomezPro: Better Customer Experience, Questionable Online Security

The most recent Watchfire GómezPro Insurance Carrier Scorecard revealed industry-wide trends around improving the length and relevancy of quote forms, cost-reduction initiatives and improving the contextual experience. However, the Scorecard also uncovered an uneven approach to online security, trailing the progress made in other industries.

The most recent Watchfire GómezPro Insurance Carrier Scorecard revealed industry-wide trends around improving the length and relevancy of quote forms, cost-reduction initiatives and improving the contextual experience. However, the Scorecard also uncovered an uneven approach to online security, trailing the progress made in other industries.

Progressive Insurance returned to the number one Overall position after being unseated by Allstate in the Q4 2004 Scorecard. Implementing a long list of enhancements, Progressive paced the industry, winning three of four categories (Functionality, Ease of Use and Privacy & Security), tying for first place in the fourth (Quality & Availability) and winning four of five task rankings (Get Insurance, View Policy, Get Service and Learn & Plan). GEICO (Chevy Chase, Md.) ranked number one for the Check & Pay Bill task and tied for the top spot in Quality & Availability. This article discusses the top three issuers by Overall results in greater depth:

Progressive: The Mayfield, Ohio-based carrier provided the most intuitive and tailored quote process in the industry, with particular attention paid to Ease of Use, Coverage Assistance and Contextual Messaging. Progressive also offered the most comprehensive secure site auto insurance experience in the industry. It has made significant enhancements to its quoting interface, registration process and secure site offering.

GEICO: Competing closely with Progressive with respect to online policy service, GEICO delivered more-vital policy, policyholder and billing information immediately upon log-in than any other firm in the analysis. The carrier also made significant enhancements to the quoting, binding and registration processes. It placed first in the Check and Pay Bill task as well as the Quality & Availability category. GEICO took second in the View Policy, Get Service and Learn & Plan tasks.

Allstate: Northbrook, Ill.-based Allstate had the strongest online offering of any traditional insurance carrier and assists coverage selection during the auto quote via contextual education and guidance tools. Allstate placed in the top six for all four categories and is ranked second, third and fourth respectively for the Get Insurance, Check & Pay Bill and Learn & Plan tasks. The carrier has planned enhancements to its quoting and registration processes that will keep it in the running for the top spot.

In addition to highlighting best practices, the Q2 2005 Scorecard also revealed that carriers are refining their online presence to better support mission-critical tasks and keep a closer eye on the bottom line. Unfortunately, the Scorecard also found that carriers are by and large failing to keep up with best practices in privacy and security.

When it comes to communicating with online users about privacy and security we found that nearly every insurance carrier has room to improve, and some have neglected this conversation wholesale -- with dangerous implications for both carrier and consumer. Only five of the sixteen Scorecard carriers offered explicit links to both privacy and security policies at the critical juncture of the login screen. Compare this with the Q1 2004 Credit Card Scorecard, which showed 15 out of 16 credit card issuers taking this step. Further, only Liberty Mutual (Boston) provides explicit links to education and instructions regarding online identity theft available from key pages, as compared to nine credit card issuers. All sixteen credit card issuers timed out secure sessions after 20 minutes of inactivity, while only five insurance carriers did so. Further, while all Scorecard carriers support 128-bit encryption, only two of sixteen actually require customers to use these settings when entering their login credentials.

Site analytics have shown insurers that lengthy and confusing quoting applications drive down conversion rates. To combat this, at least five carriers have either completed or are currently working on streamlined quoting applications. These improved applications take a strategic approach to which questions to ask first, using the answer to each question to omit irrelevant and time-consuming questions. The result is a process easier to use and quicker to understand.

As they roll out paperless billing, integrate online purchase and registration processes, introduce electronic documents and signatures initiatives, and encourage online sign-up for paper suppression and automatic-debit plans, online channel managers across the industry are demonstrating a focus on investments for which they can make an ROI case to company executives.

The Q2 2005 Insurance Carrier Scorecard showed that companies are refining their online presence to better support a number of mission-critical tasks. Carriers are consistently striving to better understand the behavior and needs of their online users and are evolving their online strategies to address clutter and build quicker, more-intuitive and accessible online task flows. While firms are keeping up with industry trends around supporting customer behavior and encouraging adoption of cost-saving services, they must also make themselves aware of emerging industry standards around educating users on privacy and security. While security and identity theft threats have touched other online financial services industries more directly, this trend is affecting online behavior across the board and will threaten customer acceptance of personal information-intensive quote forms should carriers fail to incorporate stronger trust-building measures.

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

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