New York Life Tops Dalbars Consumer Web Site Rankings Lincoln Life remains best rated for its professional site
by Trevor Thomas
Fidelity Investments consumer Web site has relinquished its longtime hold on first place among life insurance and annuity company Web sites ranked by Dalbar Inc., Boston.
In the final quarter of 2004, New York Life Insurance Company moved into first place among consumer sites in the widely watched quarterly rankings by Dalbar. New York Lifes success ended a run of 15 straight quarters for the life insurance arm of Fidelity Investments as Dalbars top consumer site for life insurance and annuities.
Among life-annuity sites aimed at financial professionals, Lincoln Life, a subsidiary of Lincoln Financial Group Inc., Philadelphia, and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Boston, remained in a virtual tie for first place.
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Dalbar credited New York Life with enhancing customer service on its consumer site, including more detailed company contact information and links to corporate prospectuses. The insurer also included new wireless capabilities so clients can view their accounts and get other information over their cell phones or personal digital assistants.
Dalbar also gave points to New York Life for adding financial advice to African-American business owners.
Although Fidelity slipped slightly in its score from the previous quarter, it retained Dalbars Excellent rating among consumer sites for a record 16th straight quarter. Dalbar gives that rating to insurers that score at least 80 on its 100-point grading scheme, which evaluates sites on such factors as ease of use, consistency and number of helpful functions.
Among other firms showing impressive improvements in Dalbars consumer site rankings were MassMutual, which shot into fifth place from 16th after providing better account access to consumers, improving its financial education and adding a variety of online calculators to aid consumers in a variety of financial tasks such as retirement and tax planning, Dalbar said.
Western Southern Life Insurance Company, part of the Western Southern Financial Group, Cincinnati, moved up 9 places to number 14 in part by its use of “iframes” technology, which allows several external documents to be included on the same Web page. Western Southern used iframes to let visitors take a site tour without leaving the home page.
AXA Financial Inc., New York, gained four spots, rising to No. 9, by introducing a system that automatically alerts clients when documents such as new account statements and prospectuses are available.
Dalbar also singled out these companies for notable improvements to their consumer sites: