Allstate, Fidelity Retain Top Spots For Best Web Sites: Dalbar
Fidelity Investments, Boston, kept its long-standing lead among life insurance and annuity Web sites designed for consumers, says Dalbar Inc., in a report covering the second quarter of 2003.
On the producer side, Allstate Financial, Northbrook, Ill., remained the best life insurance and annuity Web site for financial professionals, according to Dalbar, a Boston research firm that rates financial Web sites on a variety of quality measures.
Standings in the rankings held unusually steady in the quarter. Only nine of the top 25 consumer sites moved upwards in the rankings, compared to 14 in the same period last year.
Among financial professional sites, seven companies advanced, compared to 14 last year.
The unusual stability of the rankings is probably more a result of the nations economic slowdown than anything else, suggests Dalbar managing director Csilla Von Csiky.
“Budget constraints on revamping company sites would account for the leveling off,” Von Csiky observes.
Nevertheless, comparisons to last year did show a number of notable improvements for many companies.
For instance, eight consumer sites earned Dalbars rating of “excellent,” which is reserved for those scoring at least 80 points out of 100 on its rating system. Only four rated excellent during the second quarter of 2002.
Dalbar ranks sites on a number of factors, such as ease of use, range of functions available, up-to-date information and consistency of content and appearance.
Among the strongest improvements in consumer sites was USAA Life Company, San Antonio, which sells insurance and retirement plans to government employees.
USAAs consumer site soared from 19th place in the first quarter to the 10th spot by improving the ability of the consumer to personalize the site and by adding new account services, Dalbar says. USAA was not even among the top 25 a year earlier.
“The site also offers individuals online forms with prefilled information,” Dalbar notes in its report on the rankings. This information is added to the form from facts supplied by the user at log in.
Nationwide Financials consumer site jumped from 19th place in the first quarter (where it had been tied with USAA) to number 11. Its site enhancements included more personalization and improved consistency in users experience with the site, Dalbar says.
Nationwide also now lets users view and change their financial profiles online and keep track of the performance of Nationwide products they have purchased. In addition, the company made it easier for consumers to move around the site.
Dalbar awarded Fidelity an “excellent” designation to its consumer site for the ninth straight quarter.
Dalbar also lauded USAA and Safeco Corp., Seattle, for providing special services to military customers on active duty during the recent war in Iraq.
Several carriers introduced customized educational materials to help clients plan their retirement, Dalbar notes.