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Agents Should Note Consumer Auto Insurance Buying Habits

For the insurance agents out there who are not paying attention to consumer shopping habits, it is time to tune in.

A recent report from ComScore notes there is continued growth by consumers when it comes to quoting and buying auto insurance online. While many consumers still purchase their coverage offline and like dealing with an agent, more and more are surfing online for coverage.

With that being the case, independent agents can keep on succeeding in this venue if they build their own online presence with a Web site that is both informative and attractive. Using social media to bring in more "fans," incorporate online consumer quoting and quality responses can all add up to potential sales opportunities.

According to the report, online quoting remains the initial visit point for consumers looking for auto insurance.

Online quoting grew 21 percent from the prior year's survey to nearly 39 million quotes submitted online. In 2009, 54% of all consumers hit the Internet to obtain auto insurance quotes, while 72% have visited the Internet to locate auto insurance details at some time in their lives. For individuals shopping online for auto coverage, the largest increases were between ages 18-24 and 25-34. The study noted that all ranges beyond age 35 decreased.

More numbers from the study show that the majority of respondents (83%) are going straight to insurer Web sites, while only 17% are going to aggregators and online agencies.

The numbers also indicate that 22% of consumers took their search to a multiple-carrier agent, a drop of 3% from the prior year.

Independent agents still have an upper hand on consumer attitudes related to purchasing.

The study shows that a record 2.8 million policies were acquired online in 2009 - a jump of 22% from 2008.

Analysts looking at the study note that the opportunity for independent agents lies with helping the consumer in realizing his and/or her insurance requirements. Seventy-eight percent of consumers are still acquiring insurance offline, with the largest factor being they want to talk with a person when making this decision.

The leading four reasons consumers' state for working through an agent are:

  1. 38% wanted a real individual to visit with or call;
  2. 34% have always gone through an agent;
  3. 26% sought a local agent from one insurer who could assist with all their insurance needs;
  4. 25% indicated the agent quoted the best price.

On the flip side, the leading four reasons consumers declined to work through an agent for their purchase was:

  1. 27% noted it was more convenient to utilize the Web site or 24-hour toll free number;
  2. 23% claimed it was faster to purchase online on through a toll-free number;
  3. 23% received a quote with a toll-free number and then chose to purchase;
  4. 16% showed preference for a Web site or toll-free number.

Finally, agents should take note that a large number of insurance shoppers are heading online to research auto insurance premiums.