A new survey of Canadian consumers appears to indicate that insurance policyholders have high expectations for their life insurers but that they're occasionally not living up to them.
The poll, conducted by Ernst & Young, surveyed 24,000 life insurance and annuity customers, finding that approximately 75 per cent believe insurers are falling behind other customer service-oriented companies when it comes to quality of service. They also believe that some insurers aren't adequately rewarding customers who have renewed their policies multiple times.
Doug McPhie, Ernst & Young's Canadian Insurance Leader, said life insurance providers should take customers' feelings under advisement.
"Insurers would be wise to think about how they can innovate to meet the changing needs of their customers," said McPhie. "We're seeing a perfect storm of increased expectations and accessible technology, which means the insurance industry is now facing a more demanding customer than ever before."
He added that insurers should prioritize customer service or else policyholders may go to a different company that places more of an emphasis on satisfying their needs.
"There's a great opportunity here to really fine tune a suppliers' approach, and differentiate a company by being the one that understands customer needs, and caters specifically to them," said McPhie.
In addition to these findings, the report also revealed other aspects of today's insurance customer. For example, in all of the North America, the study found that consumers are increasingly turning to the internet for research of various insurance products and that this trend will likely continue into the future. However, there was also an indication from customers that despite turning to the world wide web for research, they also wanted to maintain personal contact with insurance representatives.
The report also noted that, provided that the process is easy, there's a growing tendency among insurance customers to buy multiple products from the same provider.
Ernst & Young's report also described other aspects of insurance buying that customers considered to be of utmost importance. These included affordable prices, brand recognition, product offerings and an ability to obtain information about these products easily.
Life insurance is a popular form of protection that many families rely on. Data from the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association finds that at the end of 2010, nearly 21 million Canadians had life insurance, with an average amount of more than $345,000 per household.
In 2010 alone, the group says more than 733,000 individual life insurance policies were purchased, with an average size of nearly $300,000.
That protection helps families nationwide in times of need. The group says the life and health insurance industry pays out more than $1 billion per week in benefits.