Insurance Networking News: Younger Insureds Prefer Agents

The Kids Are Alright With Agents

Accenture survey finds younger consumers still prefer to purchase insurance through agent networks.

Insurance Networking News, May 25, 2011

Bill Kenealy

While nobody can dismiss the progress the insurance industry has made developing distribution channels to reconcile with the tastes of millennials, a new survey from Accenture suggests these new channels will augment rather than supplant long-established ones.

The survey, which queried 2,500 individuals in North America, found that the agent network remains the preferred method to buy insurance among respondents. Indeed, even among 25- to 34-year-olds, 59% said they prefer buying insurance from agents as opposed to the 31% who indicated a preference to purchase online.

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Nonetheless the numbers indicated a proclivity for younger consumers to use the Web and social media as a research tool. For example, 75% of 25- to 34-year-old respondents said they would be interested in using insurance aggregators prior to buying a policy, while only 55% of the entire sample population expressed an interest in doing so.

“With the rise of Internet usage, new purchasing behaviours have emerged that insurers cannot ignore,” says Erik Sandquist, a senior executive in Accenture’s Insurance practice. “Before buying, more and more consumers perform their own research online, compare options and seek recommendations from others, using social media sites or referral sources. This is very common in sectors like travel and electronics, but our survey demonstrates that insurers should expect similar purchasing behaviours from their customers.”

Sandquist adds that insurers will need to re-examine their technology stacks and product mix to ensure they are to best serve these multiple distribution channels.

“While our research points to significant opportunities for insurers who can reach consumers with the right products through the right channels, the personal lines insurance market remains extremely competitive,” he says. “Our survey shows that consumers want speed, products that fulfill their needs and competitive and transparent pricing. It is increasingly important for insurers to align their channels to meet these rising expectations.”

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