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Customers expect ‘omni-channel experience’

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About 85% of insurance consumers prefer using the internet to research, buy and check details of their policies, but 40% find buying or looking for cover online confusing, research shows.

Insurers have some way to go to meet consumer expectations, according to the survey of 1000 people in Australia and New Zealand by UK researcher Target Group.

The findings, published in the report Distribution Strategies in Insurance: Understanding the Customer View, suggest “insurers need both compelling traditional and digital channels”.

About 40% of respondents describe researching, buying or renewing a policy online as “very confusing”. The figure is even worse among the age group most likely to prefer digital channels: 47% of consumers aged under 25 find the process confusing.

Despite the surge in use of digital channels, people also favour more old-fashioned communications.

Target Group says consumers expect “the full omni-channel customer experience. The ability to talk to someone is still vital for many buyers, and in many cases that means over the phone.”

The phone is the preferred method of communicating with insurers for 47% of respondents. 52% of people aged 55 and over prefer the phone, compared with 36% of under-25s.

Of those who use the internet to search for information or buy insurance, 57% use a computer or a laptop and 11% smartphones and tablets.

Younger customers are more likely to favour a smartphone: 13% of under-25s use them, compared with 1% of over-55s. 

“Traditional channels are not going to disappear any time soon,” the report says. “Insurers that neglect them will find themselves unable to serve one or other important demographic.

“The truth is that consumers don’t want digital services instead of traditional routes; they want both. The trick will be integrating them successfully.”