Many life insurance company Web sites appear to be treating customers poorly.[@@]

Researchers at the Customer Respect Group, Ipswich, Mass., have presented that conclusion in a review of a study of 50 life company Web sites.

The overall “Customer Respect Index” for the life industry sites was 5.1, compared with an average CRI of 5.8 for all company sites assessed, according to CRG.

CRG is especially critical of life insurers’ tendency to share Web visitors’ personal data.

About 66% of the companies evaluated “state that they share personal data either with affiliates, business partners or third parties,” CRG says. “This does not compare favorably with other industries surveyed in 2006.”

In other industries, only 46% of the companies share Web visitors’ personal data, and 44% of the companies in other industries let customers opt out of information-sharing arrangements.

In the life industry, only 18% of the companies let visitors opt out, CRG says.

In other industries, only 8% of companies are still unclear about privacy policies, but 26% of the life companies are still unclear, CRG says.

Meanwhile, only 44% of life insurers responded to all electronic-mail queries, compared with 67% of the other companies studied, and none of the life insurers consistently provided prompt, helpful responses, CRG says.

About 22% of the companies in other industries provided prompt, helpful responses CRG says.