More than 73 percent of shoppers begin shopping for auto insurance on the Internet
While many have bemoaned the plight of independent insurance agents in the age of the internet, one company, Boston’s Plymouth Rock Assurance, has decided to eschew the either/or approach. The Boston-based insurer, which sells its insurance exclusively through independent insurance agents, has developed a new auto insurance product to harness the ease of the internet with the expertise of an independent agent.
“Plymouth Rock is changing the auto insurance experience for consumers,” said Chris Olie, President and CEO of Plymouth Rock Assurance. “We’ve always valued the unique benefits independent agents provide to shoppers through their local knowledge and by representing multiple companies. As a company, we’ve invested heavily in our online capabilities to make it easy for consumers to buy and manage their policies online. With Prime, we’ve combined both experiences to give insurance buyers the best possible way to shop, buy and manage. It’s simple one-stop shopping backed by friendly, local, and knowledgeable service and advice.”
Plymouth Rock is changing the auto insurance experience for consumers,” said Chris Olie, President and CEO of Plymouth Rock Assurance.
Unlike other auto insurance products, Prime provides consumers online access via to buy and manage their auto insurance policy online directly from Plymouth Rock. The catch, however, is that that consumer is also assigned a Plymouth Rock agent, who can provide further guidance and counsel. Why provide both? According to a 2013 study by McKinsey and Company, that it what most consumers would like to be able to do. To search and compare and sometimes buy -on-line but with the choice to talk with a knowledgeable agent as well.
According to the 2013 report, 73 percent of all auto insurance shoppers cited the internet as their direct channel for gathering information, up from only 55 percent of consumer in 2008. As a result, 70 of those consumers ultimately ended up obtaining a quote directly from the internet. An interesting and insightful caveat to that number, however, was that at purchase point and beyond, a majority of insurance shoppers actually preferred to speak with an agent when it came time to buy a policy. Sixty percent of shoppers ultimately ended up using agency channels to bind coverage. “And while 60 percent used direct channels for post-purchase support…over 75 percent spoke with a person (either agent or call center) highlighting the importance of the personal touch during this stage of the journey.
The following graphic highlights the changing nature of auto insurance shopping:
A quick overview of how the process works
Plymouth Rock now provides both online quoting and buying directly through its website. Once a policy is purchased, however, one of Plymouth Rock’s local independent agents is assigned to that policy. If a consumer completes an online quote, but ultimately does not buy the policy, the consumer has the option of being contacted by one of Plymouth Rock’s local independent agents. If agreed to, the agent is given the lead and can then reach out to that potential insured to obtain their business by doing what agents do best. Offering a variety of auto insurance options and packages. In either scenario, the online consumer is being put into contact with local knowledge agents about their New England insurance policies.
And what Prime offers agents as well….
While agents might balk at first at Plymouth Rock’s decision to sell insurance directly from its website, Prime is not geared at taking business away from agents. Rather, this hybrid product will help independent agents compete with national direct writers by providing elite online capabilities coupled with local live expertise. While the jury is still out on the Online Consumer Portal and Google Compare, Plymouth Rock is harnessing its own local traffic in order to help independent agents compete in the Massachusetts marketplace.
Patrick Diggins, Principal of SG&D Insurance Agencies is already on-board with Prime and what it can offer his agency. “Insurance shouldn’t be treated as a commodity,” explained Mr. Diggins. “Sometimes, consumers might opt for the fastest, cheapest policy without fully understanding the coverages. As an independent agency, we take the time to educate our customers so that they are getting the right coverage for their needs and lifestyle. With Plymouth Rock, we can combine our knowledge with their online offerings to truly create the ideal insurance experience. We’re thrilled for the opportunities Prime will bring to the independent agency channel and to consumers.”
Continue on to our Agency Interview about Prime with Plymouth Rock President & CEO Chris Olie.