The Importance of Online Reviews

Many times, a consumer’s digital insurance experience starts with an online search with a long-tail keyword search such as “cheapest car insurance” or “best home insurance in Florida.”

As these individuals and businesses educate themselves on the options available to them, their search becomes more specific. For example, instead of searching for “best auto insurance companies,” consumers may undertake branded keyword searches for “Geico reviews” or “reviews of insurance agents near me.”

As shoppers near a purchase, they turn to the online community seeking validation. Even if a consumer isn’t making the end purchase online, they want to read more about the experiences others have had before making a final decision.

Everything Happens Online

With the increasing digital footprint, ratings and reviews have become an integral part of the shopping process today – not just for items purchased on Amazon, but all things, insurance included.

The statistics on the importance of online ratings and reviews are staggering. A survey by BrightLocal found:

  • 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses (including 95% of people aged 18-34)
  • Consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local business
  • 89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews

Insurance agents and agencies ignoring the role their online reputation plays in whether a potential customer relies on their services will quickly start to lose business to competing agents and agencies who are proactively soliciting and responding to reviews to win local search results in their zip code.

Personal Relationships Still Matter

The recommendation of a neighbor or family member still carries a lot of weight. But so too, does the recommendation of an online reviewer.

Unfortunately for insurance agents and agencies, the current ratings and reviews landscape for insurance skews disproportionately negative. In other cases, companies are selling agents on review collection and promotion services that collect only five-star reviews to manipulate the rating. This doesn’t accurately depict the average consumers’ experience and consumers know a manipulated rating when they. see it.

The existing ecosystem consists of websites like Yelp and BBB, which aren’t specific to insurance and utilize a one size fits all review form that does not really get to the heart of why an insurance consumer rates their experience the way they do.

Without reviews from consumers at random touch-points throughout the insurance life-cycle and value chain, reviews tend to be from policyholders venting after a rate increase or poor claims experience. However, this doesn’t represent a majority of the policyholder sentiment.

Tyler Asher, president of independent agent distribution at Liberty Mutual Business Lines and Safeco Insurance, recently told the Independent Insurance Magazine, “we see a significant need for agents to really make sure they’ve got a strong digital footprint to continue to reach millennial consumers for many years.”

More than a quarter of millennials say they learned about an agent through digital engagement (online search, reviews or social media) – more than any other age group, according to a survey by Liberty Mutual and Safeco. This survey also found that about 80% of millennials own a car, 45% own a house, and most of the remainder plan on buying a home in the next decade. As such, millennials account for a huge growth opportunity for agents.

According to a study by, millennials not only account for a huge growth opportunity for agents but are actively researching new options to reduce existing insurance costs. Millennials are known for spending more time researching the best solution as opposed to selecting the first solution that may have been presented on a reviewer site. With this digitally savvy age group, it will be crucial for insurance agents to establish a strategy to attract and acquire this demographic online.

Your customers are online. Are you?

Article By: Mike Crowe

Source: Property Casualty 360