Property & Casualty Insurance Firms Go Interactive with Online Education

by on Mar 05, 2012

altThis article first appeared in the Consulting Insights – Winter 2012 Issue.

In recent years, property and casualty insurance firms have increasingly adopted a more modern approach to marketing. Instead of focusing solely on product details and customer service, their new strategies highlight their expertise and leadership in the industry. As part of this shift, firms have added useful online resources to advise and educate prospective clients on the insurance products that may apply to their personal circumstances. Most firms still follow a more traditional route by providing educational articles, but some innovators have turned to advanced technology in the form of interactive coverage tools.

Education Remains a Priority

All twelve firms that Property & Casualty Insurance Monitor covers offer educational articles on their public sites, making them a dependable source of information. Current and prospective clients can browse topics like road safety, home catastrophe prevention or how to lower their insurance premium.

Firms update this information regularly to remain relevant to seasonal weather-related risks. For instance, in the last few months, firms such as GEICO, Liberty Mutual, Progressive and Travelers have updated their catastrophe centers with articles focused on snow storms.

Interactive Tools for Personalized Information

Over 40% of the P&C Insurance Monitor firms have embraced the Internet as more than a content-delivery medium and have started offering interactive tools that enable clients to get personalized recommendations. These advanced capabilities stand out among P&C firms’ educational offerings. In addition to their informational role, these tools can provide actionable next steps for insurance shopping.

Coverage tools are the most useful resource for prospective clients, and are generally easily accessible on the public site. Allstate, GEICO, Liberty Mutual, The Hartford and Travelers offer examples of these simple but informative tools. Each one is comprised of a few input steps leading to a recommendations page. Users must answer questions about their current situation such as their marital status, financial profile (income and assets) and properties such as cars and motorcycles. Certain firms, such as Travelers, even ask users how they value premium price relative to coverage level.

Two Types of Recommendations

Although all of these tools seem to use similar inputs, they vary in the nature of their recommendations, falling into one of two types. The first and more common approach focuses on one product type — usually car insurance — and thus does not recommend other products. These tools’ recommendations include coverage levels and provide descriptions of what the firm offers. For instance, GEICO’s “Coverage Coach” presents suggested amounts for bodily injury, property damage and uninsured motorist coverage and features expandable sections that define these coverage types.

The second kind of coverage tool tells clients the types of insurance products they should consider after each step is competed. The recommendation page helps users learn more about insurance types that they may not know about, such as renters insurance. Although firms that follow this type — Allstate and Travelers — only highlight product types without specifically pointing out their own offerings, they feature a direct link to their quote tool or provide contact information to speak to insurance agents.

Of all the firms that P&C Insurance Monitor covers, Allstate is the only one to feature a coverage tool on its private site. While closer to the second type, this tool is slightly different, as its purpose is to complement the insurance that clients already have with the firm. In addition to the personalized recommendation — based on the client’s information on file and other inputs — the firm promotes every one of its products on the results page.

Conclusion

Interactive coverage tools serve two purposes. First, they allow prospective clients to understand the level of coverage that they need before seeking a quote. Second, these tools highlight the gaps that may exist in their choice of insurance products, which can lead to greater interest in the firm’s offers to bundle products.

Personalized resources give firms a great competitive advantage in attracting prospects and pointing them to the appropriate products before ever speaking with an agent. Coverage tools are one of many developments that allow clients to explore product information online prior to purchasing, a trend that will only grow as the industry continues to invest in the online channel.

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