2019 P&C Consumer Survey Highlights Importance of Digital Capabilities, Rise of Emerging Technologies

by on Nov 05, 2019

Corporate Insight conducted a survey in April 2019 of over 1,000 P&C policyholders who use their insurers’ digital platforms. The survey aimed to determine the tools and features consumers deem most important and identify trends and changes from our 2017 survey. We assessed policyholders’ attitudes toward existing web and mobile app capabilities and emerging technologies, as well as their overall platform usage and satisfaction. We tabulated the data across many population segments, including by age, income, gender, and whether respondents were mobile app users or telematics participants.

The results revealed increased online activity and interest in digital channels, especially among younger generations. Millennials demonstrate the highest interest in emerging technologies, including telematics programs, autonomous vehicles and smart home technology. Although overall satisfaction with online resources is generally high, insurers should be aware of shifting generational preferences, as younger generations tend to show less satisfaction with their insurers than older generations.

The importance of seamless and excellent digital experiences continues to rise as consumers come to the table with increasingly high expectations set by leading companies outside the insurance industry. Insurers must focus on improving their digital offerings to meet these high standards. In addition, other factors—such as pricing and claims processing—remain primary reasons that consumers switch insurers. With the rise of insurtechs, who pride themselves on both innovative digital experiences and quick quoting and claims processes, incumbent insurers must make structural changes by either updating their processes or adopting new technologies, practices and partnerships.

Website and Mobile App Recommendations

General satisfaction with insurers’ websites is high across all generations, as 88% of respondents reported being “satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with these platforms. However, more than half (53%) were just “satisfied,” demonstrating the opportunity for insurers turn satisfied customers into very satisfied customers who are less likely to shop around for other providers with more fulfilling online experiences. Notably, customer interactions with their insurers have increasingly turned to digital channels, with traditional methods such as calling a customer service representative or an agent becoming less popular. Compared to this year, our 2017 survey showed less website and mobile interaction and more usage of traditional phone calls. In the short two-year window, we have seen a four-percentage-point increase from 61% to 65% in website usage in the last 12 months, as well as an eleven-percentage-point decline, from 58% to 47%, in the number of respondents who contacted their insurers via phone in the same period. Mobile app usage remains rather low at 16% but has still risen five percentage points since 2017. We expect this upward trend to persist in the future.

Our survey found that the most popular reason respondents logged into their accounts online was to make a premium payment (50%), followed by accessing ID cards (49%), accessing policy documents (45%), and looking up coverage, benefit or policy overview information (44%). Therefore, insurers should ensure these five popular actions are easy to locate and perform on their policyholder sites, either by providing links directly on the homepage or offering an intuitive main navigation menu.

Interestingly, members of the Silent Gen were seven percentage points more likely than average (57%) to have logged in online to pay a bill in the previous 12 months. Only 47% of Millennials reported having done the same, which could be explained by their higher enrollment in automatic payments, since 21% of Millennials reported being enrolled in automatic payments, seven percentage points above the overall average of 14%. However, most account activities showed very little generational variation, indicating that improving these offerings would help insurers meet the needs of users of all ages.

Mobile apps are another area of opportunity for insurers to engage policyholders online. Our survey shows that mobile app usage is rising—60% of respondents whose insurers offer mobile apps reported having logged in to them in the last 12 months, compared to 54% in 2017. Moreover, Millennials reported an even higher usage rate of 73%, indicating that the importance of the mobile space will continue to grow, especially as Gen Zers reach the age of needing to manage their own insurance policies. Insurers should therefore prioritize design and ease of use of their apps, especially as 85% of respondents rated this as “important” or “very important.” Other top-ranked mobile features include the ability to view account information (rated “important or “very important” by 83% of respondents), submit a claim (83%), update personal information (81%) and update images of car accident/property damages (80%). Based on our survey results, we recommend that insurers focus on making key account activities easy to find and perform, rather than transferring every desktop capability and resource to their mobile apps.

Emerging Technologies

Certain emerging technologies—such as telematics programs, autonomous vehicles and smart home devices—are changing the industry landscape for both consumers and insurers. Unsurprisingly, Millennials demonstrated the highest interest in these new technologies, with 35% reporting that they are “interested” or “very interested” in telematics and 32% in autonomous vehicles. Millennials also reported above-average ownership of connected home devices, indicating future growth in the market as this cohort ages and becomes more financially stable. Moreover, a vast majority (91%) of smart home device owners would recommend these products to others.

Insurers are increasingly offering discounts to customers who make use of emerging technologies such as smart devices and telematics programs. Respondents answered favorably when asked about receiving discounts for installing smart devices—over half reported being “interested” or “very interested” in installing devices such as over-the-door cameras (57%) and water shutoff valves (51%). Although many insurers continue to partner with technology providers to offer discounted products to customers, only three firms in our coverage group promote smart devices on their product pages. Smart technology appears to be an area of opportunity for insurers, as the industry is projected to grow by 26.9% by the end of 2019, with an estimated sustained growth rate of 16.9% until 2023.

P&C Insurance Digital Audit

The survey coincides with Corporate Insight’s Property & Casualty Digital Audit, which benchmarks insurers’ websites and mobile apps against those of key competitors to identify strengths, weaknesses and areas of opportunity in creating a best-in-class experience. Using our proprietary Audit software, we grade P&C sites and apps across more than 175 individual attributes covering Account Information, Payments & Claims, Account Servicing, Prospect Experience, Help Resources & Tools, Design & Usability and Mobile Apps. We then weight scores based on the preferences of users, collected through our 2019 P&C consumer survey, and generate data and analysis to determine recommendations for how to improve digital offerings.

Learn more about Corporate Insight’s P&C Insurance Monitor research here. For information about our P&C Digital Audit, click here.