The Hartford is the top auto insurance Web site, according to Web researchers Change Sciences Group, based on ease-of-use, content quality, use of social media and persuasiveness.
The New York-based company released a 70-page report ranking the Web sites of 17 top auto insurance carriers. Rounding out the top three were Liberty Mutual and Progressive.
"With The Hartford topping our ranking for the first time, traditional carriers are clearly beginning to catch up, and even in some cases, surpass major direct-to-consumer players like Progressive and GEICO," says Pamela Pavliscak, a Change Sciences partner, and one of the authors of the report.
The Hartford hits its mark by reducing effort wherever possible, and presenting the right messages at precisely the right time, according to the study.
"Getting the rate quote process right is notoriously difficult and is a moving target," Pavliscak tells Marketing Daily. "The fact that traditional carriers are catching up clearly demonstrates that. Sites that had the best rate quote process a year ago have fallen behind because the way that these sites address consumer needs is constantly evolving. It's not like all the processes are more or less the same. For example, the longest rate quote process requires roughly twice as much effort as the shortest."
The sites at the top of the list practice what Change Sciences considers "hyper usability," with a focus on reducing user effort. In the last year, almost every carrier has added an interactive tool to help consumers sort out coverage options and make recommendations.
However, only a few have figured out how to make the tools quick and easy and lead effortlessly to the quote process. Once there, only a few sites excel at keeping consumers motivated throughout the entire quote process, according to the study.
Roughly 76% of sites fail to answer at least one question that users have, while 24% have content problems that make information difficult to understand for some users. All sites lack some content that some users consider persuasive, while 59% have instances of navigation design that pose challenges to some users.
About 12% of sites have instances of visual design that are perceived by many users to be less than professional, while 12% have visual design elements that are perceived as inconsistent. About 6% of sites have visual design elements that are perceived as less than welcoming, and 47% ask users to do things that many see as annoying.
The complete list of sites included in the research were 21st Century, AAA California, Allstate, Amica, Esurance, Farmers, GEICO, GMAC Insurance, Liberty Mutual, LowerMyBills.com, Nationwide, Progressive, Safeco, State Farm, The Hartford, Travelers and Unitrin Direct.
The new report is based on Change Sciences' Kantuit interactive user experience modeling technology and process.