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You Buy Everything Else Online — Insurance is Next

Consumers have high expectations of how insurers should support them with digital purchases and services. Enter digital direct insurance.

A man shops for insurance online
Research shows that 73% of consumers want to complete an insurance quote online when looking for coverage. [BONNINSTUDIO / Stocksy]

Whether it’s for our homes, cars, pets, valuables, health, or lives, we buy insurance for just about everything that’s important to us. And we’re increasingly heading online to do this. Research shows that 73% of consumers want to complete an insurance quote online when looking for coverage — and nearly a quarter say it’s absolutely necessary.

The industry’s response to rising digital demand

Accessing insurance digitally isn’t only about having a convenient option. In many areas of the world, pandemic-related shutdowns made digital the only option for vast numbers of consumers and businesses. Fast-forward a year: Policyholders now have higher expectations of how an insurer should support them with digital products and services.

And this is clearly a large opportunity for the industry. Investors are making big bets on the innovative insurtech providers that are integrating technology into direct-to-customer (D2C) models, signaling a huge market with unmet needs. Incumbent carriers are keen to meet this demand — 64% of insurance executives expect their firms to increasingly adopt a D2C approach. 

Here are three ways your business can gain a competitive advantage: 

Engage your customers throughout their digital insurance journeys

Insurers are already catching up with other industries in delivering hassle-free shopping experiences. But that doesn’t mean a customer’s insurance purchase journey is going to be straightforward.  

While online consumers typically don’t think twice about providing credit card details at checkout, they might hesitate to enter personal details for an insurance quote. According to the Baymard Institute, the online cart abandonment rate across industries is 70%. The rate for insurance and financial services is a staggering 83%. This is where an automated retargeting strategy to prompt customers to complete quotes comes into play.

But understanding what brought the customer online to buy insurance in the first place is the key to effective engagement. Often it’s the result of a major life event, such as buying a home, or having a baby. 

In short, insurance needs to respond to our circumstances. The challenge for insurers is to capture this circumstantial information to help segment their markets and shape more personalized offers. Establishing a direct relationship that allows for more regular digital touchpoints with customers is an important step. And an online presence makes it possible to reach a lot of customers instantly and at lower cost than through intermediated channels. 

We can reach the customer through any digital experience, we can quickly expand to new markets and maximize the value of data to cross-sell and personalize the experience.

Rafael Gonzalez, cEO of Singularcover

For example, SingularCover provides simple, flexible insurance for small and mid-sized businesses, self-employed workers, and freelancers. To build a better customer experience, the company offers a fully digital, tailored insurance solution. “We can reach the customer through any digital experience, we can quickly expand to new markets and maximize the value of data to cross-sell and personalize the experience to each customer,” said Rafael Gonzalez, CEO and founder of SingularCover, in a recent Salesforce webinar.

Be omnipresent — meet your customers where they want to go

Consumers are spending 56% of their media consumption time online, and as a result a lot of people start the process on a digital channel. In fact, insurers saw mobile app usage increase by 26% in 2021. But a customer might want to talk with someone before buying to better understand a specific coverage or to just feel reassured they are making the right decision. For insurance carriers, this means omnichannel processes that connect online and in-person interactions, and comprehensive customer insights that inform good advice.  

Interactions need to be fluid and consistent. If a customer enters your site from their phone and ends up abandoning their quote, they should be able to return using a different device and seamlessly finish the process without having to re-enter their data. Likewise, they should be able to contact a customer service rep who can see what has happened and, if needed, complete the process, not restart it.

Send the right messages at the right time

Digital insurance is so much more than just setting up an online quote form. Success requires personalized experiences and engaging customers with trusted advice at the right time.

Think of all the critical moments throughout the customer’s journey, including online research, obtaining a quote, buying a policy, amending coverage, and making a claim. Providing personalized guidance and recommendations at each stage can nurture customer loyalty and scale customer acquisition.

Many insurers favor a guided selling process that asks customers a minimal number of questions about their coverage needs, enriches this with external data, and provides a real-time tailored quote. SingularCover exemplifies this personalized approach. “At SingularCover the core of our business is to customize our insurance solution to the specific risk profile of our customer, and digitize the full value chain to maximize the customer experience,” Gonzalez said. “With our scalable D2C distribution, and experience-led insurance model, we can do both.”


James Webb is head of P&C insurer solutions at Salesforce Industries. Having started his career at Guy Carpenter in reinsurance, James has led software product management and marketing at technology firms, focusing on data, analytics, and process solutions supporting non-life and life insurer core operations, customer engagement, and risk management. Previous roles include positions at CoreLogic Eqecat, SunGard Financial Systems, FIS and Vlocity before its acquisition by Salesforce in 2020. He is based in London.

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