While Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “the medium is the message” back in 1964, his hypothesis still resonates today when it comes to personal-lines insurance marketing in that the medium itself—not merely the message it delivers—has intrinsic value for consumers.
That’s one of the key conclusions that can be drawn from “The Voice of the Personal Lines Insurance Consumer,” a pair of online surveys by Deloitte Research that queried 1,080 auto policyholders and an equal number of those with homeowners’ coverage.
Indeed, with price being equal, 41 percent of the auto respondents said they would be very likely (15 percent) or likely (26 percent) to change carriers to secure the ability to communicate in multiple ways with their insurers. However, that figure jumps to 50 percent among those 18-34, compared to only 31 percent for those over 50.
Homeowners showed a similar disparity among age segments, with 31 percent overall indicating that having multiple options to communicate with their insurer was extremely (11 percent) or very (20 percent) influential the last time they decided to change carriers. Broken down by age group, 51 percent of those 18-25 and 44 percent in the 26-34 segment wanted multiple communication options, but only 19 percent among respondents over 50 indicated this was influential.
The individual percentages were slightly different among homeowner respondents, but the online-service-preference rankings were closely aligned with those of auto-insurance buyers.
Meanwhile, mobile applications are being introduced by a growing number of personal-lines insurers—but such options were not yet on the radar for most of those responding to these surveys. Indeed, three out of four auto and homeowner respondents didn’t even know whether their carrier offered mobile apps.
Age was a significant point of distinction here as well, particularly among auto respondents, with 56 percent of those 18-25 finding insurer information delivered via social media to be extremely (16 percent) or very (40 percent) useful, compared to 35 percent among those 35-50 and only 8 percent of those over 50.
The two surveys indicate that while those who are aware of these emerging communication capabilities remain in the minority for now, it is an enthusiastic and highly satisfied minority. As awareness increases, tech-savvy consumers are likely to demand more service options from insurers delivered via their laptops, notebooks, tablets and smartphones.