According to an article by Insurance Networking News the number of consumers shopping for car insurance has declined to the lowest point in five years.  This comes from a study by J.D. Power and Associates “2012 U.S. Insurance Shopping Survey.”

The numbers are enlightening.  According to the study 25% of insurance customers shopped for new insurance this year which represents an 8% decline from the previous year.  But, 43% of those switched carriers.  This is a 3% increase from 2010.

The study points out that the average savings from switching, fell to $359 in this year from $412 in 2010.

Other findings from the study are important to insurance marketers to consider.  As customer retention rates rise, the spending on marketing efforts is increasing.  Advertising expenditures were up 12% in 2011 industry wide.

The number of customers who want to do it themselves is also increasing.  A full 1/3 of insurance shoppers want to conclude the transaction online.  They want to shop and bind online; the entire process under their control.  Current laws require a licensed agent and most insurance companies take that to mean personal contact via a phone conversation. 
52% of customers start their insurance shopping online and 73% of those visit at least one insurer’s website.  The number of insurance shoppers only using online processes for estimates is now 32%; this is double from three years ago.

The challenge for agents is that most online insurance shopping takes place at night, when offices are closed.  The big insurance companies are of course set up to handle this and to take advantage of it.  Shoppers are going as far as they can on a given insurance site, but more and more want to bind online also.  They keep moving from site to site till they get one who will do that.

In the same study, insurance companies were ranked for three factors:  distribution, channel and policy offerings and price.

The top 5 (from the top) were The Hartford, Liberty Mutual, American Family, Nationwide and Amica Mutual.  The bottom five (from the bottom) were: Mercury, GMAC, Progressive, AAA NCNU Ins, Exch 816 and Allstate.

The study represents the findings from over 16,000 consumers who requested online auto insurance in the last year.  The study was conducted January – February 2012.