Car insurance online marketplaces: A better shopping experience?


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Written by
VP, Consumer Insights and Analytics
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Reviewed by
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent
UPDATED: 2018-12-27T15:33:23.425Z
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A man shopping for car insurance on an iPad, caption text: 2018 Shopping Experience Study How do consumers rate car insurance online marketplaces?

Download the full Clearsurance online marketplace report

It’s not a surprise the general consumer doesn’t like shopping for car insurance. Sure, they are willing to spend hours looking at new electronic devices, but when it comes to car insurance, few consumers want to spend more than 5 minutes. This is how online marketplaces have found a niche. Over the past few years, many new websites offering consumers comparison shopping for car insurance have launched. These websites, typically referred to as insurance lead generation or price comparison sites, serve as an alternative to working with traditional insurance agents to receive quick insurance quotes. You can read a recent Clearsurance blog that explains the differences between these companies for more information.

Due to the number of these insurance online marketplaces and their growing popularity — the top companies attract nearly 800,000 visitors from search engines each month — Clearsurance set out to understand how they are impacting consumers’ shopping experiences. Are consumers pleased with their experience? Are the sites easy to use? Are consumers concerned about how their personal information is used?

Clearsurance gathered feedback from nearly 800 consumers on their experiences with the top 10 online marketplaces, all of which are fairly new (established between 2006-2015) by insurance standards.

What did we learn from our research?

Consumers were generally pleased with their experience…mainly because of how easy it was.

Participants rated their overall experience with these companies as being positive (80 percent rated their experience as very good or excellent). Consumers talked about how easy the process was, the fact that multiple options were offered and how little time the process took.

“I liked the simplicity of the form, it only asked what was necessary and was super easy and simple to fill out.”

Consumers were comfortable with how their personal data was used.

Each of these companies require certain personal information in order to provide car insurance price comparisons or quotes. We wanted to understand if participants were comfortable with how the information they provided on these sites may be used, especially in light of recent news coverage on data breaches in other industries. You can’t watch the news without hearing something about data being compromised. Maybe there is so much coverage on it people have become desensitized when providing personal data, or maybe people are willing to take the risk if it means saving time and money. Whatever the reason, a majority of the participants in our research were comfortable with how these sites use their data.

In fact, more than 60 percent of participants stated they were extremely or very clear on what happened to their personal data. However, some of these same individuals admitted they didn’t recall reading anything regarding data use and privacy on the websites.

Follow up emails and phone calls were considered acceptable…to a point.

We asked participants about the level of communications they received after providing their information to obtain a quote. It’s clear from their responses that consumers had a higher tolerance when contacted via email versus by phone. For both modes of communication, however, there is a definite tipping point where enough is enough. For phone calls, the level of tolerance seems to end after 4-5 calls, while most were fine with 7-8 emails. Of course, emails are also easier to ignore, which might have something to do with the higher level of acceptance.

Time spent getting quotes does not guarantee a lower rate…despite what these sites might promise.

While the overall experience using these sites was positive, fewer than half of participants actually purchased a new auto insurance policy from a company that provided a quote. The primary reason given for not purchasing was the price they were offered was not low enough to justify switching. This result tells us that consumers are simply looking for a better deal, which further commoditizes car insurance premiums.

In the end…

Depending on the motivation of the user of these sites — the curious shopper who just wants to see if they can get a lower price, to the serious shopper who is definitely going to switch their car insurance company — insurance online marketplaces can be a very helpful tool to getting a variety of quotes. All shoppers should go into this process understanding you may be contacted, perhaps even frequently, and your data may be shared. Similar to the use of social media sites, consumers may be getting more comfortable with the fact that personal information is being shared when it’s provided online. Perhaps it’s accepted as a cost of convenience.

Soon, Clearsurance will be publishing consumer ratings and reviews on these types of companies to help you decide if one is right for you.

To see the complete survey results, click here.

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