U.S. insurance consumers want their insurers to offer more personalized service and reward customer loyalty, according to Ernst & Young’s Global Consumer Insurance Survey 2012. The survey also finds that consumers of life/annuity and property/casualty policies are willing to buy multiple products from the same carrier if they are tailored to meet their individual needs, and that millennials believe the strength and health of an insurer’s brand is more important than the price of the insurance product.

Ernst & Young surveyed more than 24,000 consumers of insurance products in 23 countries across seven global regions. The most important trends Ernst & Young found focus on U.S. consumers’ expectations of loyalty, customer service and online communications. Specifically, the three themes of critical significance to life/annuity and property/casualty insurers today are:

  • Loyalty rewards. While U.S. consumers continue to be satisfied with their insurance provider, many express a desire for better service and more loyalty rewards. More than one-third (36 percent) of consumers believe the life and pensions industry lags other industries in service, and nearly half (43 percent) of consumers say it does an insufficient job in rewarding loyalty. Consumers are accustomed to having their loyalty rewarded by other industries, and increasingly expect the same from insurers. The good news is that U.S. customers want to remain loyal to their insurers. In fact, 65 percent of respondents are either “not at all likely” or “not very likely” to change insurers in the next five years.
  • Personal interactions coupled with digital ease. Consumers are becoming more comfortable with online channels for researching insurance products and carriers, but the vast majority of people still want to rely on personal interaction to make their insurance purchases. On the property/casualty side, the survey found that personal interaction is particularly important when extending coverage (71 percent), making a claim (82 percent), or dealing with other customer service issues (78 percent). In life/annuities, 82 percent of consumers think it is important to have personal interaction when making an insurance purchase. Nevertheless, customers are showing a greater desire to use online sources to inform themselves prior to making a purchase (44 percent of life/annuity customers used online comparison sites), with two-thirds (66 percent) expecting to do more independent online research in the future.
  • Millennials put a premium on brand. U.S. insurance consumers generally trust their insurance providers, despite the recent financial crisis, but require them to offer more personalized service and reward customer loyalty, according to the survey. Specifically, Millennials are bucking conventional wisdom and paying more attention to brand than cost when picking an insurer. While price is still an important factor, consumers younger than 34 are willing to pay more for a brand they trust. In fact, almost half of Millennials (43 percent in property/casualty and 48 percent in life insurance) consider the financial stability of the insurance provider as the most important factor influencing their decision to buy insurance.