Several life insurance and annuity companies significantly improved their standings on Dalbar Inc.’s lists of best financial websites in the final quarter of 2005 while the top-ranked companies held their position.
Among sites designed for consumers, New York Life, Fidelity Investments and Lincoln Life retained the top three places. Among sites for professionals, MassMutual, Lincoln Life and Allstate Financial also held their lofty positions as best-ranked life and annuity sites, according to Dalbar, a Boston research firm that develops the closely watched website rankings.
Dalbar rates life and annuity company sites from the viewpoint of visitors, evaluating such qualities as functionality, usability, speed and consistency.
The most improved consumer site in the fourth quarter belonged to Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, Columbus, Ohio, which climbed 17 spots to seventh place in the rankings.
According to Dalbar, Nationwide enhanced its online presence by making it easier for consumers to get around the site, using a consistent color scheme and providing easy links to the home page. It also added a “jargon translator” that explains insurance terms in simple language, beefed up its product information and improved its educational resources, including adding a Spanish language version of the site.
Nationwide recently tied its site together around the theme, “Life comes at you fast,” showing how its products could help consumers prepare for various stages of their lives.
ING-USA, a unit of ING Groep, Amsterdam, also made a significant gain, rising to 29th place from 36th by offering improved content and a more user friendly design. Among changes noted by Dalbar was a table of contents and well-organized displays of information in each section of the site. It also increased the number of calculators and other financial tools available to users, Dalbar notes.
Principal Financial, Des Moines, Iowa, rose four places to the 30th spot by adding a menu-driven navigation method that made it easier for visitors to find their way around.
One trend Dalbar noted among a number of top-ranked consumer-oriented sites was the publication of surveys probing consumers’ financial behavior in depth.