Canadians demanding more from insurers than ever before: Ernst & Young survey

Three-quarters of customers feel a need for change

(Toronto, 29 February, 2012) Confusing product choices and poor customer service are just some of the concerns Canadians have with their insurance companies, Ernst & Young says in a recent first-of-its-kind global survey. Some 24,000 people were surveyed for the report, with three-quarters of North American life and annuity respondents agreeing that the insurance industry lags behind others in both quality of service and rewarding customer loyalty.

“Insurers would be wise to think about how they can innovate to meet the changing needs of their customers,” says Doug McPhie, Ernst & Young’s Canadian Insurance Leader. “We’re seeing a perfect storm of increased expectations and accessible technology, which means the insurance industry is now facing a more demanding customer than ever before. The choice is clear: suppliers must move toward a more consumer-centric business model, or risk being left behind as clients seek alternatives.”

Working with Ipsos to gather the research, Ernst & Young’s Voice of the customer: time for insurers to rethink their relationships report found that consumer behaviour around the world is changing rapidly, and insurers must do more to respond to their customers’ evolving expectations.

Additional highlights from Canadian and global findings reveal:

  • Consumers across the Americas are increasingly turning to online channels for research of insurance products, and this growth trend is expected to continue. Respondents clearly voiced a desire for simultaneously improving online access while continuing with personal contact.
  • While present levels of cross-selling are relatively low according to the research, customers are interested in buying multiple products from an existing provider if the process to do so is convenient and there is an additional incentive.
  • Most customers still want personal interaction when purchasing products, but a growing minority favour doing it themselves and want the ability to research products from online sources.
  • While price is an important component of value, other factors such as brand, product features and access to information are becoming increasingly important to consumers.

“If insurers don’t adapt to the ‘new’ shape of the consumer here and elsewhere, non-traditional providers with more consumer-friendly business models will seize the opportunity to take market share,” McPhie warns. “Certainly, these are challenging times. But there’s a great opportunity here to really fine tune a suppliers’ approach, and differentiate a company by being the one that understands customer needs, and caters specifically to them.”

About the Global Insurance Customer Survey

Ernst & Young surveyed 24,000 insurance customers globally to better understand what customers want from their insurers. Ernst & Young’s Global Insurance Customer Survey 2012 included 1,000 Canadians.

About Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Worldwide, our 152,000 people are united by our shared values and an unwavering commitment to quality. We make a difference by helping our people, our clients and our wider communities achieve their potential.