‘Go Web, Young Man’? Some Agents Just Say No
Buying insurance online offers no more convenience than meeting an agent in person, consumers say.
“You eventually get a packet in the mail, so its the same thing as doing it offline,” says Maria Dynia, assistant scientist, LIMRA, Hartford, Conn. This consumer attitude is promulgated in a soon-to-be-published, mail-panel LIMRA study of Internet users, “Our Connected Society: Finances and Insurance Online.”
After getting their feet wet on the Web, some agents echo consumers sentiment that the Internet does not make the business of insurance more convenient.
“We dont even try to sell over the Web; our reputation is built on the service we give to the client,” says Don Beery, vice president/partner, Eustis Insurance Inc. The Web site for the New Orleans-based business, www.eustis.com, is informational only.
“For the most part, I feel most insurance is still a people business,” Beery says. “We dont think the service our clients can get over the Internet is the service theyre looking for.”
Insurance products that can be purchased on the Web tend to be “grocery store, one-size-fits-all” types of products, Beery says. A consumer cant alter the product to fit her situation, and “there is no consultation to determine if that product is what” the client needs.
Despite the perceived drawbacks, however, Beery considers the Web “a great tool.
“I think its going to grow and be even more important in the years to come,” he asserts. “Theres a new generation coming up who are used to doing things on the Web, but whether [agents] can sell a sophisticated product that way, we dont know.”
Although the Eustis Web site has been up for more than a year, “were still getting used to it,” Beery says. But it isnt fear of a new way of doing things that keeps Eustis from selling online; instead its the belief that personal contact is essential in running ones business well.
“We feel its important to have contact and tailoring unique to the client rather than something off the shelf,” Beery explains. “One size fits allit just doesnt happen.”