Welcome a new Breed of Insurance Consumer – the Internet Shopper

By Lee Romanov, Insurance Hotline

Sept. 2004 – Everyone’s shopping, looking for a lower insurance rate. InsuranceHotline.com deals with these “shoppers,” taking the “quoting load” off the brokers. When a “qualified” lead is found, InsuranceHotline delivers the completed quote and all of its underwriting details to both the broker and consumer. When contact is made, both parties are working from the same rating and underwriting information.

These days, consumers will readily buy a $35,000 car online. Why shouldn’t they buy a $1,600 insurance policy online?

That’s the thinking of Stephanie Lewis, Account Executive with Barstow Insurance Brokerage in Scarborough. It’s paid off handsomely for her; she estimates she writes a million dollars in premiums annually.

Ms. Lewis proclaims. “You’ve got educated consumers out there. They’re computer literate, and they’re informed. They want to know they’re dealing with a big company that’s been around for a while.”

Ms. Lewis is registered with www.InsuranceHotline.com, which puts her in contact with the type of clientele she’s looking for. Her clientele is pre-qualified, quoted and delivered – in real time – to her office. And her Compu-Quote service downloads the quote into her rating software.

“I love doing business with the online client,” she says. “They’ve already spent time filling out their information online, with details like postal code, the make and model of their car. I don’t have to wait for them on the phone while they try to figure out the year of their car.”

As a result, Ms. Lewis says she only needs to spend four minutes dealing with an internet client. She estimates it takes seven minutes just to complete an application over the phone with a call-in client.

Lee Romanov, President of InsuranceHotline.com, says, ”The online consumer is a hot prospect. They’re already thinking about their insurance and know what their renewal rate is. When they log onto www.InsuranceHotline.com, right away they know there are 30 companies registered here and they’ll find the best fit.”

Ms Lewis goes on to say, “This person would rather use email, which allows them to collect their thoughts and their information,” she adds. “It speeds up the qualifying process since the broker usually gets all the information they need in one email. The online consumer is a smart shopper who’s business like and cost-effective. They don’t want to play phone tag, and if I do get a voicemail from them, they will usually leave full details of their name, phone number and policy number.”

Ms. Romanov explains, “The technology available to brokers helps make the process efficient. Any other advertising vehicle creates lots of calls and lots of unqualified leads. This takes up valuable time from your staff playing telephone tag and quoting business your brokerage may not want or be competitive in.”

InsuranceHotline.com provides pre-qualified, quoted referrals for auto, home and commercial insurance. Your brokerage selects the markets they want to write and the volume of business they want to receive.

For auto insurance, a broker can specify the type of clientele they are looking for. Certain city areas, no tickets, no accidents, age group, and so forth, is the type of information that can be screened.

“Our system is set up to only take six-star drivers,” Ms Lewis explains. “We can download the quote from CompuQuote directly into our application software ‘The Office Manager’ (TAM).”

Likewise, Ms. Lewis uses CompuQuote to set up coverage packages. “It lets me put together various standard packages with standard rates for deductibles and comprehensible, instead of inputting information every time.”

She emphasizes that in order to take full advantage of the internet client, it’s important to respond quickly. “Sometimes, the prospect may still be online. They’ve got their renewal in hand, and are happy to have it confirmed that they can get a better rate,” she chuckles.

Best of all, the information provided by the internet client is most likely to be accurate and truthful. “Most of the time, the consumer who calls up will not tell you everything,” Ms. Lewis says. “On the internet, they’re quoting for themselves, so they’re far more likely to tell the truth. It’s anonymous.”

Ms Lewis reports, she closes between 75% of her internet referrals. And that, she says, makes it a win-win situation for everyone.

How it works is simple. InsuranceHotline.com quotes approximately 2,000 people a day for either their auto, home or commercial insurance needs. For auto and home insurance, it quotes and directs the consumer to the three top insurance companies that have the best rates for their underwriting profile. It also gives the participating brokers the consumer’s contact information for the type of “qualified leads” they wish to write. Enhanced retention occurs after placing the consumer with the right insurance company and brokerage.

For more information on InsuranceHotline.com call Lee Romanov at 416 699-4378.