Survey: Buyers Prefer Agents When Purchasing Medical Insurance

July 23, 2009

A recent online survey of more than 1,000 consumers found that those who purchased individual medical (IM) insurance through a professional agent were significantly more satisfied with their health plans than those who bought IM insurance online.

The independent study was commissioned by Milwaukee-based Assurant Health, a national provider of Individual Medical, Small Group and Specialty health insurance products. Some of its other key findings included:

  • 64 percent of those who bought through agents used the word “helpful” to describe their experiences while only 36 percent of online purchasers used this term.
  • 91 percent of those who purchased through an agent bought the plan their agent recommended.
  • 31 percent of those shopping online described the experience as “time-consuming.”
  • Despite the recent proliferation of Web-based insurance brokerages, 62 percent of the survey respondents bought their insurance through an agent.
  • In addition, consumers who purchased through an agent were significantly more satisfied in regard to how easy it was to understand their options and choose a plan that gave them the best coverage tailored to their needs than those who purchased online.
  • After being presented with information on how agents can help, and advised that purchasing through an agent does not increase their costs, nearly one out of four of those who purchased online reported that, if they were going to purchase IM insurance today, they would buy it through an agent.

Independent insurance agents play a vital role in educating consumers and helping them make informed decisions about their health plans, said Don Hamm, president and CEO, Assurant Health. “It also shows that consumers greatly value agents’ personalized services and recommendations.”

The research commissioned by Assurant Health was conducted in May/June 2009 by the Chicago firm of Beall Research & Training Inc. Some 1,003 consumers who purchased individual medical (IM) insurance within the past two years were surveyed about their shopping and purchase experiences. The respondents were recruited from a representative online panel of Americans. All differences noted are statistically significant at the .05 level.

Source: Assurant Health,

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