It’s good times for Canadian and US life insurance companies.  Job and some slight wage growth has spurred an increase in life insurance sales, both through the employer as well as individual life insurance sales.  At the same time,  90+ million Millennials are moving into the life stages of home ownership, parenthood, and marriage that prompt life insurance sales. By 2020, more than 9 in 10 new life insurance sales will be at least influenced by digital, including online searches to find life insurance companies–and their advisors; learning about the best coverage options; and applying for a life insurance policy on the insurer’s website.  But many of the top life insurers in the US and Canada are blowing these digital sales opportunities. What are they getting wrong? Their websites offer poorly executed or missing online sales features, and even poorer digital user experiences.  Worse, those expensive advisors don’t follow up on web leads, and just two life insurance companies bothered to follow up on our abandoned “shopping carts”–those quotes in progress that at least show an intention to buy. To see how prepared Canadian and US life insurance companies were in meeting the needs of life insurance shoppers, we used our Industry Wave methodology to see how well the top  life insurance firms did at using digital touchpoints to win new business.  What did we learn in our second evaluation of North American life insurers?  For starters, Canadian life insurance firms improved their performance, while US life insurers worsened, in some cases substantially.  Our 2018 evaluation revealed that:

  • US and Canadian life insurers are good at priming the sales funnel. Our slate of 14 life insurers are effective at attracting consumers to their websites. They offer home pages that feature simple, persuasive language that makes it easy for novice buyers to understand the value of life insurance. Canadian advisors, for the most part, turned to email to follow up on leads, while US advisors clearly preferred to pick up the phone: we received multiple telephone follow ups from the US advisors we tested.
  • But they fall far short when it came to helping customers learn, pick, and buy. Websites are supposed to make it easy for interested prospects to decide on a policy and then convert if they want to. Insurance digital teams should aid this by connecting consumers to content, tools, and advisors who can close the sale. Major failures here were numerous and included poorly executed advisor locators; limited or no cross-selling of other insurance and non-insurance services that would be relevant; missing information about acceptance and underwriting decisions; and a lack of basic online or offline help in getting the online application completed.

Canadian and US life insurers must act urgently to fix their big web and usability issues, including taking a customer-first approach to content and helping customers navigate between digital and human help, to ending undisciplined sales follow up. Want to learn more about which of the 14 firms were Leaders, Strong Performers, Contenders, or Challengers when it came to digital sales functionality and user experience?  Check out Forrester’s two new  Life Insurance Wave™ reports: Canadian Sales Websites, Q2 2018 and US Sales Websites, Q2 2018 (subscription required) and our upcoming Forrester webinar on Thursday, June 14th at 1:00 pm ET where we’ll dive into recommendations of how to improve the digital sales and user experience.