Banking, Insurance Gain Interest

Consumers are becoming more comfortable with online shopping for a variety of goods and services, according to a study conducted by Opinion Research Corporation International and sponsored by IVANS, Inc.

Sixty-one percent of the consumers surveyed say they are interested in purchasing goods and services online, compared to 50 percent of consumers in the same survey last year.

Online banking and insurance stand to gain from increasing interest in online commerce. According to the study, 43 percent of the respondents say they are interested in banking online, but findings indicate there is still room for growth.

Insurance hasn’t quite established an online market, the survey found. Only 26 percent of consumers say they are interested in purchasing auto or homeowners insurance online, but the growing interest consumers have for purchasing consumer goods online indicates that there will be a larger market for online insurance services in the near future.

“The survey results demonstrate that the next logical steps consumers will take in online transactions are banking and insurance,” said Dan Carmichael, President and CEO of IVANS. “For insurance companies, developing an e-commerce strategy must be more than broadening a market by offering products and services online. Personal attention, consumer education and consumer confidence are essential criteria for insurance companies to realize the full potential of the Internet.”

Consumers age 25 to 34 are still the most likely to be interested in buying insurance via the Internet (33 percent). This age group represents more than half of the total consumers online and those expressing increased interest across the board for purchasing consumer goods and managing their bank accounts online, the study found.

Those consumers who are interested, but still hesitant, to conduct insurance transactions online say personal attention and security remain their top concerns. Although security concerns dropped across the board (28 percent down from 34 percent in 1998), security still ranks among the top reasons why consumers may not submit an insurance claim online, the study found.

“For insurance companies to be truly successful in e-commerce, consumer trust must be secured,” Carmichael said. “As more consumers come online, more information will be exchanged electronically between agents and insurance carriers. The consumer trust that is obtained today from the personal attention of insurance agents will need to be strengthened by a sound e-commerce security architecture throughout the insurance distribution system to serve this new e-market.”

The demand for personal attention is rising among consumers, according to the study. More than half (58 percent) of those surveyed say they “prefer personal attention” when submitting an insurance claim. This is up from 50 percent a year ago, and is most evident among male Internet users whose desire for personal attention jumped from 49 percent a year ago to 63 percent. And, although insurance can be a complex transaction, less than 10 percent of all consumers surveyed said they feel filing an insurance claim via the Internet would be too complicated.

The telephone survey was conducted among 2,027 adults, comprising 1,012 men and 1,015 women 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental US.

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