The battle of life insurance and annuity Web sites continued to seesaw among the usual contenders in the third quarter, as New York Life Insurance Company topped Dalbar Inc.’s list of best consumer-oriented sites, while Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company was the top professional site.
Dalbar, Boston, rates financial Web sites on their effectiveness in assisting consumers and financial professionals. Its rating system evaluates each site on such qualities as range of functions, currency and ease of use.
Among Web sites aimed at consumers, Fidelity Investments, Boston, placed second. The company had led the list last quarter.
Lincoln Life was third, achieving an Excellent designation for the 19th consecutive quarter. Dalbar gives its Excellent rating to sites scoring 80 or better on its 100-point system.
New York Life advanced two places in the consumer rankings from last quarter by tweaking its site to make it easier for users to see where they are in the site and improving its agent locator function. It also added a quiz to test consumers’ knowledge of life insurance and offered video testimonials from satisfied customers.
The most improved consumer site was by Pacific Life Insurance Company, San Diego, which advanced nine positions to fifth place, in part, by making more consistent use of menu headings and company insignia. It also offered an online guide to annuities and other information, a review function that enabled consumers to go over transactions before submitting them and fact sheets from Morningstar Inc. about annuity subaccounts.
One recent trend in carriers’ consumer sites was the addition of educational aids aimed at women, Dalbar notes.
For instance, Prudential Financial added a “Women & Finance” section that includes a guide to creating a financial plan. MassMutual launched an online financial seminar for women, while the Principal Financial Group also added online classes and seminars for women business owners.
Dalbar also lauded a number of companies for using their Web sites to reach out to Hurricane Katrina victims, including Principal, Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. and USAA Life Insurance Company.
Among sites aimed at professional financial advisors and producers, many carriers enriched their illustration programs, offered new tools to help advisors become more efficient and generally made it easier to keep on top of clients’ business, Dalbar notes.