Auto Insurance Buyers

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Auto Insurance Buyers

Online vs offline auto insurance shoppers prefer to spend less time on documentation and have access to easier comparisons between insurance providers. Complete details about the consumer behavior of buyers who purchase auto insurance online and offline are presented below.

Offline Vs Online Buying

  • In a study commissioned by Facebook and comScore of 1,010 US adults who had purchased a car recently, 61% reported believing that researching insurance online before making a purchase was important. However, "of the respondents who purchased offline, 45% said they purchased through an agent and 10% through a call center.
  • Even amongst heavy mobile users, "52% sought information from an agent" along their auto insurance shopping journey.
  • While the study didn't differentiate between online vs. offline behaviors in other areas of the report, it should be noted that it did find that 30% of respondents selected a provider in one day; 60% reported a week-long shopping window.
  • The full report includes a discussion on the shopper journey that includes reactive observance, a trigger moment (e.g., policy renewals, better prices, other life events), proactive shopping, and then purchase.
  • One news report highlighted that differences between online and offline auto insurance shoppers include that online users want to avoid extensive documentation, save time, exercise more control of "add-ons," and have access to easier comparisons and renewals.
  • "While shopping starts online, 50% of auto insurance shoppers close a purchase through direct contact with an agent and 22% do so by phoning a call center."

Price-Driven Behavior

  • For all auto insurance buyers, price has been shown to be a leading driver of behavior. For instance, for 62% of the auto insurance buyers who switched providers, the price was the driving factor. Many auto insurance shoppers are even encouraged to seek out agents after price-shopping to work directly with an agent to get more competitive rates.
  • According to Facebook and comScore, millennials are often motivated by price when shopping for auto insurance.

Information From Agents

  • Qualtrics, in a survey of 800 US auto and renter insurance shoppers, found that "aside from friends and family, the top sources for learning about auto insurance providers are review sites, agents, and search engines" (in that order). When asked about their preferences for setting up new auto-insurance policies, survey respondents reported that the order of preferences was in person, on the phone, and then online.
  • In fact, 53% of the consumers surveyed plan to use an agent while shopping for a new policy. Of the respondents who used an agent, 69% found them helpful enough to use again; 19% hope to use one "next time."
  • Of people surveyed, 19% feel that speaking with an agent (24/7 support with a salesperson) would have made their auto-insurance shopping easier. Only 6% of users feel that getting auto insurance advice is easier online. Online chat with a salesperson would have made auto-insurance shopping easier for only 10% of survey respondents, which may hint to a preference for auto insurance shoppers to chat in-person or over the phone.
  • Many auto insurance shoppers might seek out agents because of confusion about what is covered on their policies; "31% of auto-insurance customers say that their provider doesn't make it easy to understand what is covered by their policy."
  • 37% of auto insurance consumers prefer to call their agents directly, while 30% preferred using a website.

Generational and Cultural Differences

  • Interestingly, in Europe, only 23% of shoppers prefer to use agents for auto insurance-related items. But in North America, 43% prefer using "the broker channel."
  • 23% of millennials use an agent/broker but only 16% of them feel it is preferred. However, 61% of GenX and Baby Boomers use an agent and 50% of them prefer it.
  • Another report noted that millennials and Gen Z prefer to call directly and speak with an auto insurance agent; Gen Z is more likely to meet in person.

Additional Resources

  • LexisNexis commissioned a 2019 study of US consumer auto insurance shopping behavior. However, the report requires registration. While it is essentially behind a paywall for the research team, it might prove beneficial after providing a work email address.
  • Another "locked" study that might be beneficial to pursue is J.D. Power's US Insurance Shopping Study.
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