There are significant gaps between what consumers want from their insurers and what they feel they are receiving, even though overall satisfaction levels are high, according to an Accenture survey of 7,000 people from 13 countries.

The survey found that the great majority (84%) of respondents say they are satisfied with their insurance provider but there is an expectation gap across the range of customer service issues. For example, nearly two-thirds (62%) said it was very important for their insurer to provide clear and easy-to-understand information on their policies, but only 27% of respondents said they were very satisfied with their insurers’ efforts to do so.

“This gap suggests that consumers have low expectations rather than that they are delighted with the experience they receive,” says Edwin VanderOuderaa, global managing director of Accenture’s Analytics group for financial services. “But this means there is an opportunity for insurers to differentiate themselves and gain market share by leveraging analytics to assess which products and services are working best and which need to be changed to deliver a better customer experience.”

The survey revealed that younger consumers and those from emerging markets are much more interested in innovations such as mobile services and much more likely to shop around, but the most promising market segments.

More than three-quarters (76%) of respondents under 35 expressed interest in using mobile devices to text insurers to receive updates on claim requests, or to interact with agents and brokers through smart phones equipped with video capabilities, compared to less than half (46%) of respondents over 45 years old.

Younger consumers and customers in emerging markets are the least loyal:

• On average, more than one-fifth (22%) of respondents said they were likely to stop doing business with at least one of their insurers in the next 12 months but the figure rose to 31% amongst the 18 to 24 age group and was significantly lower at 10% among the over-55s.

Despite this, both young and emerging markets customers are the most willing to pay a premium to get products more relevant to their needs:

• Almost three-quarters (70%) of 18 to 24-year-olds said they were willing to pay more for this, compared to only a third (33%) of over 55s and 38 percent of 45 to 54-year-olds.

 “The fast-growing middle classes in emerging markets are determined to protect their new-found affluence and this has led to strong demand for insurance,” says John DelSanto, global managing director of Accenture Insurance.

Among other key findings:

• More than three-quarters (78%) of respondents think that insurance products and services are not easy to understand.

• Almost the same number of respondents (75%) believes that insurers generally offer the same products and services.

• More than three-fifths (61%) of respondents said that it was very important for their insurer to provide prompt and effective service, or to answer requests in a timely manner, but only 32% of respondents were very satisfied with their insurers’ ability to deliver such service.

• While 53% of respondents stated that access to the information they need whenever they need it is very important to them, only 29% felt very satisfied with their insurers’ capacity to provide assistance on a 24-hour, seven days per week basis.

This story originally appeared in Insurance Networking News, a Source Media publication.

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