The chief economist at global reinsurers Swiss Re said: “A quiet revolution is underway” with internet and mobile devices empowering consumers and providing insurers and advisers with so-called “big data”, which could help them to learn more about their clients.
The 43-page report, Digital Distribution in Insurance: A Quiet Revolution, stated that the role of intermediaries is becoming more precarious as people can search, review and purchase insurance policies.
Price comparison websites, as well as social media, are also playing a growing role in the pre-sales process. Already insurance products, such as car and property insurance, are increasingly being sold online, and life and criticial illness cover could well follow suit.
Ginger Turner, co-author of the study, noted that “with mobile and telematics technology, consumers can now interact with their insurance advisers and providers anytime and anywhere”.
According to the report, the dynamics are also changing for insurers who can use big data to access information about customers. This can help them understand client’s needs and behaviours, enabling them to realign their design, marketing, sales and pricing accordingly.
The report claimed that it was clear that technology was creating significant change, allowing customers buying insurance to become more savvy and armed with more information to help them in their choices.
Dan Clayden, director of the Devon-based Clayden Associates, said: “More people are prepared to buy products direct online, although there is still a quiet majority of individuals that lack confidence to do this.
“It also depends on the complexity of issues. For example, home and car insurance is easier to buy online, but many clients might be unaware of what the policy actually covers and want to discuss further.
“Sometimes people have several policies that cover the same thing, so while you can get cheaper cover online you don’t get the service and advice.”