We all know how pertinent an online presence is in today’s digital world. With multiple devices that access Internet any time or place, customers now expect to find the information they need with their fingertips.

How does the digital world intersect with the car insurance industry? Is online shopping for coverage that common? What are customers buying patterns?

According to comScore’s Online Auto Insurance Shopping Report, over 71% of car insurance shoppers shop online for their policies. That’s a large segment of shoppers and it has been increasing each year. More and more customers are starting their search online or on various mobile devices.

Where does that leave car insurance agents? With an increasingly important job:

While many may enjoy shopping online, customers do not always purchase there.

Individuals like the ease and convenience of searching for quotes online, yet many are unlikely to purchase a policy without first speaking to an agent. That’s why it’s so important to capture the attention of these online consumers at the relevant time.

Agents are still the top passage to purchase among all age divisions.

Over 81% of insurance buyers that research a quote online and decide not to purchase online and instead choose to buy car insurance offline through an agent.

Why is this? Customers still care about personal interaction. Having contact with real people and speaking with them over the phone or in person is effective. Despite all the digital sharing, or because of it, person-to-person communication is highly valued.

Speaking face-to-face or through a phone call provides customers with the knowledge they need to feel at ease. Information can be confusing online and customers like to hear the details and learn directly from an agent that they know they can trust. Just like a customer may research mortgages lenders online and then decide to borrow through their local bank, customers may research auto insurance quotes online and then decide to purchase a policy only after speaking with an agent. 

How do you reach the attention of the 71% of consumers who shop online? By providing a smooth transition from online shopper to offline buyer. If individuals who decide not to buy auto insurance online can easily switch into contact with a recommended agent, the majority of them will make a purchase. Of course, timing is key. Online consumers must be approached at the appropriate time to increase the rate of success. A marketing plan is necessary to successfully reach these online consumers. There are also various marketing tools, such as online leads, that can help you reach those consumers in an effective manner.

What’s the Takeaway?

Consumers start their searches online, but usually choose to purchase offline. Price still drives purchasing decisions and is a prominent deciding factor for customers. With car insurance, many customers wish to speak with agents before signing on rather than just purchasing online. While mobile quoting is emerging, it currently isn’t as prominent as online shopping.

Remember these three points:

  1. An increasing amount of customers start their search for auto insurance online and look for an average of 3 quotes.

  2. A marketing plan with quality tools and online leads are important as they can help reach customers online.

  3. 81% of customers that don’t buy car insurance from the process online will purchase offline through an agent.

Customers have a process when shopping for auto insurance and that process starts online. It is important that the attention of online consumers is gained at the most relevant time so that agents can be an influential piece of the consumer shopping process. Person-to-person contact is valued and agents can use that knowledge to help customers find and purchase the right policy for them. A smooth transition from online quotes to offline contact is key. 

Photo credit (top image): Chris Potter, CWCS Managed Hosting, Wikimedia