Price comparison sites have enjoyed a meteoric rise in the last 15 years and they’re here to stay. But they haven’t completely taken over the world. Nor will they.

Customers still buy by the phone when looking for a quote

Consumer Intelligence’s behaviour tracking shows approximately a fifth of home and car insurance customers buy by phone when looking for a quote.

Many consumers use both channels: Some 88% of people who shopped around motor insurance providers at renewal time used a price comparison site while 26% got a quote by phone. 


Quote Channel

Aggregator  87.9%
Web Direct 22.6%
Telephone 25.5%
Cashback 8.2%
Face To Face 2.8%
From A Broker 1.7%
Other 22.8%


When it came to completing the transaction, phone was the second most popular channel in motor, accounting for one in five purchases. For home policies, it was the third most popular channel with 17% of policies arranged by phone.


Motor Purchase Channel, Q1 2016

Channel All Switchers Aged 50+ Under 50
Aggregator 54.2% 45.7% 60.8%
Web direct 16.4% 17.8% 15.2%
Telephone 20.2% 26.4% 15.4%
Cashback 7.4% 7.0% 7.6%
Face to face 0.6% 0.8% 0.5%
Broker 0.9% 1.8% 0.4%
Other 0.3% 0.6% 0.0%

Home purchase channel, Q1 2016

Channel All (Switchers) Aged 50+ Under 50
Aggregator 48.2% 41.7% 56.0%
Web direct 21.7% 22.3% 21.0%
Telephone 16.9% 23.0% 9.6%
Cashback 8.0% 6.6% 9.6%
Face to face 2.0% 2.4% 1.5%
Broker 2.3% 2.8% 1.7%
Other 0.8% 1.0% 0.4%


Over 50s used the phone more often than under 50s with different preference particularly pronounced in home customers (23% of over 50s took out a home policy by phone vs 9.6% of under 50s.


So what drives consumers to pick up the phone?

    • lack of confidence in online service
    • fears over security of payment details
    • needing help understanding product details
    • lack of information online
    • need help with something specific to their policy
    • or just simple reassurance from an actual person

We have tested what happens when consumers call insurers (both with and without a quote from an aggregator site). The feedback makes uncomfortable reading for some, with clunky systems keeping customers waiting and irritating them before they were even connected to a sales agent.


Insurance customers have told us:

“I had to ring at least four times and they kept me holding then kept cutting me off”

“It took over 2 minutes to get to the operator”

“I had to try twice, there was a long waiting time for the call to be answered and I was put on hold”


Others had a much better experience and felt reassured:

“I had a quote very quickly and the gentleman was very efficient in asking questions and giving information.”

“They were really easy to deal with”

Most worryingly, despite customers using multiple channels, too many had to start their journey from the beginning. A fifth of home insurance customers who called up after getting a quote online reported that the agent couldn’t find their quote.


Infographic: Telephone service for motor insurance customer journey


These insights come from our telephone mystery shopping programme, as well as a survey we carried out using our in-house panel and our Insurance Behaviour Tracker. If you've got questions on what your customers think of your call centre service or how to improve its efficiency and effectiveness, we can help you find the answers.




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