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The number of consumers who research individual insurance and annuity products online has increased by more than 60 percent since 2006, according to a new research.

LIMRA, Windsor, Conn., published this finding in a summary of results from a new survey.

The report reveals that 61 percent of consumers who research individual insurance or annuity products look online, a significant increase over the 38 percent of consumers who did so in 2006.

Mary Art, a LIMRA research director, notes that nearly 7 in 10 consumers (69 percent) continue to seek information from agents, brokers and advisors, who are “often viewed as the most valuable and influential information sources.”

The report states that the top three reasons consumers seek information online include:

  1. Research companies and product offerings
  2. Seek general product information
  3. Compare prices

These reasons apply across all age-groups and income levels, the survey adds.

The study finds that more consumers value information gathered online in 2012 than did in 2006, although this value still lags behind insurance professionals. In 2006, only 18 percent of recent researchers considered Internet sources to be their most valuable sources, significantly less than the 25 percent found in 2012.

In contrast, 37 percent of consumers rate insurance professionals as most valuable in 2012, eight percentage points lower than those who did in 2006. Additionally one in six (16 percent) of consumers cite workplace sources as most valuable.

Most consumers of every generation use insurance professionals and online sources for information on individual products. Only 14 percent of consumers who recently researched individual products used neither the Internet nor insurance professionals. The report notes this is true across generations.

The study also reveals that men and younger, higher-income, better-educated consumers look online more often than do other demographic groups. Sixty-five percent of men use the Internet for research, compared with just 58 percent of women.

Also, consumers without children are more likely to seek information online (67 percent) compared with those who have children (58 percent).

As expected, more Gen Y consumers (73 percent) seek information online than Gen X and Baby Boomer consumers (61 percent and 56 percent, respectively). The Internet is the most frequently used information source for Gen Y consumers and they are more likely to rate online sources as their single most valuable information source, to seek online recommendations for companies, and to use agent locators relative to older consumers.

Consumers are most often triggered to seek information about product needs by offline sources, such as insurance professionals, people they know, life events and employers.

Online sources prompt only 5 percent of consumers to seek additional information. In contrast, 25 percent of consumers who recently considered individual products were first led to consider the product by insurance professionals.