Growing Worry Over Consumers’ Auto Insurance Shopping Tendencies

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  • These days, many consumers are still facing tight bottom lines. And, as such, they’re always on the lookout for ways they can reduce their ongoing insurance costs in particular. To that end, many auto insurance companies market heavily toward consumers who may be dissatisfied with their current coverage for whatever reason, but the ways in which they do so may be inefficient based on Americans’ actual shopping habits. Insurance agents who can lock in on potential customers’ actual preferences may therefore be able to do a better job in either attracting or retaining business going forward.

    In the 12 months ending in February, auto insurance shopping was down some 3 percent on an annual basis, thanks in large part to the fact that fewer people with active credit standings sought out new coverage (15 percent, down from 15.4 percent a year earlier), according to the latest Auto Insurance Shopping Index from the credit monitoring bureau TransUnion. This was the third year in a row in which there was a drop in credit-active consumers actively shopping for new auto policies, following three years of improvement.

    “We are finding that despite billions of dollars being spent on advertising each year, the percentage of consumers shopping for auto insurance has been dropping for approximately the last two years,” said Mark McElroy, executive vice president of TransUnion’s insurance business unit. “This places additional pressure on insurance carriers as their pool of potential customers declines.”

    When do consumers shop?
    Interestingly, there seems to be an uptick in interest among consumers in finding more affordable coverage when the weather thaws every year, the report said. Shopping activity generally peaks in March, and also spikes again in August – exactly six months apart – but bottoms out at the end of the year, in November and December. It’s possible that young people may drive much of these increases in interest, particularly in August if they’re shopping for coverage ahead of the new school year. March, meanwhile, is generally when people begin receiving their tax refunds, while November and December could be slow as a result of the holiday shopping season.

    Insurance agents might be able to take these consumer preferences into account when formulating their agendas for the coming months, and may want to use the intervening time to better connect with their current clients and do more to ensure they don’t go shopping themselves.