Auto Insurers’ Digital Channels ‘Remarkably Resilient’, Finds J.D. Power Study

May 21, 2024

Auto insurance websites and apps are doing a good job of delivering foundational functional capabilities, bringing in more customers than agents and call centers. But far fewer are providing the type of value-added services that set them apart.

With auto insurance rates higher than ever and more consumers in the market shopping for policies, digital channels have become a critical component of the overall auto insurance shopping and service experience.

“Engagement is the name of the game with insurance digital channels,” said Justin Suter, research manager at Corporate Insight. “The more customers engage with multiple different digital tools, the better experience they have and the more likely they are to develop a favorable overall impression of their auto insurance provider.”

The J.D. Power 2024 U.S. Insurance Digital Experience Study evaluated the digital consumer experiences of property/ casualty (P/C) insurance shoppers seeking quotes and existing customers conducting typical policy-servicing activities. The study examined the user-friendliness and customer satisfaction tied to desktop, mobile web and mobile apps based on navigation, speed, visual appeal and content. The study was conducted in collaboration with Corporate Insight.

Relative to overall customer satisfaction scores with auto insurers in general—which fell 12 points in 2023 from 2022—the digital channel is performing admirably.

Overall customer satisfaction with the P/C insurer digital shopping experience is 516 (on a 1,000-point scale), down five points from a year ago. Overall customer satisfaction with the P/C service experience is 698, down four points from a year ago. Of the companies included, Auto Club Group (AAA) ranks highest in the shopping segment, scoring 546. Auto Club of Southern California (AAA) (536) ranks second, and Erie Insurance (533) ranks third. Progressive ranks highest in the service segment, scoring 737. American Family (717) ranks second, and Nationwide (716) ranks third.

“When you consider the sharp declines in customer satisfaction we’ve been seeing across all aspects of the auto insurance industry during the past year, digital channels have been remarkably resilient when it comes to delivering a good user experience and helping to get customers and prospects the information they need,” said Stephen Crewdson, senior director, insurance business intelligence at J.D. Power.

More than half (53%) of first-time buyers start relationships with auto insurance providers through digital channels, compared with 29% through agents and 18% through call centers. Similarly, digital is the first choice for 42% of switchers and 46% of retained customers. All of these have grown significantly during the past four years, J.D. Power said.

Overall customer satisfaction scores are considerably higher when customers use their insurer’s website or assisted digital contact methods as a first line of interaction than when they use another initial contact method.

“Customer satisfaction plummets when users of digital channels need to pick up the phone and contact the call center if they can’t find what they need online,” Crewdson said, adding that insurers still have work to do when it comes to keeping customers on their websites and apps to answer all questions and provide critical information.

However, the study found that while most insurer digital channels deliver foundational tools and navigation capabilities, fewer make it easy for customers to perform more advanced tasks. In the service category, 83% of customers said digital channels delivered foundational experiences, but only 30% said they found the channels to be foundational, findable and valuable.

Topics Carriers Auto

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