Keynote: Auto Insurance Web Sites Main Consumer Source for Quotes

May 24, 2005

New competitive intelligence from Keynote Systems, The Internet Performance Authority, reported that the Web is the primary resource for auto insurance consumers with 87 percent visiting sites with the intention of obtaining a quote and 58 percent willing to purchase auto insurance online.

The results of two companion studies in the Keynote report (the Keynote Customer Experience Rankings for Auto Insurance Web Sites and the Keynote Service Level Rankings for Auto Insurance Web Sites) indicated that auto insurance Web sites that provide comparative quote information and in-depth research have a significant advantage over competitors.

The Keynote studies evaluated the Web sites of the following auto insurance companies: AIG, Allstate, American Express, Esurance, GEICO, GMAC, Liberty Mutual, Met Life, Nationwide, Progressive and State Farm.

“The Web has caused dramatic shifts in the way consumers research and buy auto insurance,” said Dr. Bonny Brown, director of research and public services for Keynote. “Our market intelligence shows that consumers are very likely to comparison shop and to purchase online. In order to stay competitive, auto Insurance companies need to make sure their sites positively impact their brand reputation and make it easy for prospective customers to research and purchase products on their web sites.”

In a major finding, Keynote reported that more consumers obtain auto insurance quotes online (68%) than over the phone (55%). To better facilitate the quote process, consumers turn to the Web for convenience and background information on policy coverage. Progressive, Allstate and State Farm led the overall customer experience rankings with superior online quote and research processes.

Consumers were reportedly fond of Progressive’s detailed quote comparison chart, giving the auto insurer high marks for providing competitive quotes on its own site. In addition, consumers responded favorably to Progressive’s online guidance for decision making, easy to complete forms, customizable coverage options, and frequently asked questions links. Customer frustration was reportedly experienced on industry sites that weren’t able to deliver quotes, detailed information on premiums and deductibles, or guide consumers through their transactions.

“Excellent customer experience also depends on the health of the Web site application itself. Unless critical quote and online purchase pages load quickly and reliably for consumers in various geographies and on different connection speeds, end-users will be unable to unleash the full potential of the convenient online functionality and valuable content,” said Chris Loosley, general manager, service level business for Keynote. “That is precisely why the Keynote Service Level Rankings measure which companies’ sites provide excellent technical performance, including high reliability, error free processes between tasks and fast page downloads, to support an overall quality user experience. Satisfied consumers are not likely to abandon the quote or purchase process, so Web site performance is critical to overall site success.”

GEICO, State Farm and Liberty Mutual were the leading sites in overall service level rankings and maintain high site quality, with GEICO and State Farm dominating in most of the 10 key performance factors measured. GEICO led in response time consistency and had the least amount of outage hours.

Overall, auto insurance Web sites reportedly have excellent dial-up performance, making them accessible to a wide range of online users. Additionally, half of the industry-leading sites exhibited strong reliability with better than 99.4% uptime, indicating that leading industry sites proactively monitor and focus on site quality and health.

The Keynote Service Level Rankings examined service levels at leading auto insurance sites, testing speed and reliability by running 5000 simulated transactions on each site. To benchmark leading auto insurance sites in customer experience, the Keynote Customer Experience Rankings examined 2,000 consumers as they interacted with 10 leading sites, capturing more than 250 behavioral and attitudinal data points for each consumer.

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