Life insurance coverage calculators earned low marks in a recent analysis by the Customer Respect Group, which suggests that more can be done to help consumers and employees determine adequate coverage levels.

After examining 22 life insurance websites, only 15 of which contained calculators, the CRG found that consumers visiting these sites "will not have a clear idea of what the question 'how much life insurance do I need?' actually means."

The report insists that insurers need to focus on the point of view of fresh consumers looking for life insurance. The insurers providing the best examples of how to do this, according to the CRG, are USAA, State Farm and Allstate. Easily accessible calculators, clear language, good help text and integration with other steps in the research process were common attributes among the leaders.

Overall, however, the results were poor. Complicated language, hard-to-find calculators and confusing presentations of results were all cited as common hindrances to the online consumer experience.


Coverage suggestions vary widely

Huge variations in information requested and coverage amounts suggested also presented difficulties for consumers. The number of data fields that needed to be completed varied from less than 10 to more than 30. When the CRG created a persona representing a typical family, coverage suggestions ranged wildly from $221,226 to $775,338.

"This is further evidence that there is no consensus within the industry on what 'how much life insurance do I need?' actually means," says the report. "If companies don't know what it means, chances are that consumers will be confused."

For customers trying to compare quotes, this is frustrating and leads them to not trust the information they are getting.

"Getting a coverage estimate is a key task for consumers that is not being adequately supported by the industry," according to the report. "Not enough attention is being given to taking into account consumers' requirements. The goal should be to educate consumers and have them trust the process. Many calculators, however, are likely to cause loss of trust."

Moreover, "getting people to consider coverage amounts is a great way to get people engaged with the topic of life insurance," according to the report. "It is likely the first task they try to complete when researching life insurance. It is critical therefore that consumers don't fall at the first hurdle, and companies should pull out the stops to help them through this task quickly and efficiently."

For customers looking to engage any one site, 65% of the life insurance calculators did not provide the next step in the process (e.g., receive a quote, find an agent, call the company). Eighty percent did not display a prominent phone number for help, while only 20% offered an explicit "save for later" button.

The analysis also found calculator sites didn't integrate well with quote engines. Only 50% of sites that had a calculator also had a life insurance quote engine. Of these, four passed the result from the calculator to the quote engine tools and three had integrated calculator/quote tools.

Justin Stephani writes for Insurance Networking News, a SourceMedia publication.

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