Indian insurance websites: Fast growth, but Failing grades

Author: Meghan Lockwood | Categories: Insurance, Customer Experience

Global ExpansionAs companies begin to go global, it’s vital to recognize that just as every country is different, the websites you develop for these international audiences have different wants and needs. Expansion is a topic that I find particularly interesting to my insurance clients, who are constantly looking for new markets.

One particular growth opportunity lays in the India. A country of more than 1.2 billion, digital access is rapidly increasing – particularly among the country’s professional population. According to TAM research, the number of households with digital access grew 8% last year alone.

In contrast, the overall quality of websites in the Indian market, particularly among insurance firms remains relatively poor.  To me, this means that companies considering entering the Indian digital landscape have a clear blue sky opportunity. With less competition, those companies who do enter this space are poised to really stand out.

This blog will walk you through the general usability issues found in many Indian Insurance websites, and will pose recommendations to fix these deficits.

Online Insurance Experience 4X Growth Rates

Before we get into what are the best attributes for an insurance website, it’s important to explore the recent trends in the insurance domain which is fueling insurer’s interest in the Indian market.

Over the last several years, Indian consumers are increasingly purchasing financial products online. A recent joint report by Aviva Life and IMRB International found that “India has experienced four times growth in an online search for financial services in the last three years. As per market estimates, almost 13 million searches a month are related to insurance, retirement, and pension.”

Clearly, this digital consumer presents a key opportunity for firms looking to capitalize on a largely under-served market.

…Yet Indian Websites Net Failing Grades

One of the reasons this market is largely under-served seems to be the comparatively dismal condition of many insurance websites aimed at an Indian audience – particularly in the field of eCommerce.

A recent Kern study reviewed the user experiences for India’s top carriers. As you can see in the chart below, just one company netted a score over 50 – meaning the bulk of these companies is batting below 500.

Clearly, trying to serve a growing market with confusing pages and awkward layouts is a recipe for futility and failure.

India’s Top Insurance Websites

Insurance websites

In Pic: While the benchmark for excellent user experience is >75 and good user experience is >60, all providers have a score of less than 50 (except Max Life Insurance). It means that the whole industry has extremely poor online user experience.

What’s Wrong with These Sites?

Intrigued by the challenges presented in this study, I did my own examination of websites from Indian insurance companies. These issues can be grouped into the following five categories:

  1. Lack of proper information: Most online insurance websites provided minimal details about the policy, mostly hidden in a PDF brochure, making it very difficult for the customers to find details.
  2. Lack of proper navigation: Many websites seem to lack a reasonable user flow. Instead, customers had to spend time searching for information, which was distributed throughout the website.
  3. Dated design: Most of the website I reviewed included very dated designs. A lack of updated design can potentially lead to a lack of customer stratification, and ultimately create a negative company image, rating, and online experience.
  4. Difficult eCommerce process: Online insurance companies also presented difficult eCommerce layouts, particularly when comes to finding a way to paying a premium or buy a new policy online. Similarly, sites did not highlight alternative paths to purchase – offering an option to move an offline sales experience to the online space by providing product recommendations or answering complex queries.

While some of these issues may be a result of marketers trying to address IRDA regulations, the bulk of the issues I came across design and usability-related.

Tips to Create a Positive Online Experience

With these general challenges in mind, here are some to consider when developing your insurance website for the Indian market:

  • Carefully consider what you want to achieve from you website. While this step may seem basic, it is also one of the most important, as all your other tactics will map to these goals.
  • Accurately profile your target audience. Every discussion with regards to the website should be mapping against the target audience, and validated in light of what content and functionality will best meet these needs.
  • Understand the current system/website’s pain points. This can be achieved by gathering information from various sources including:
    - Talking directly to your users
    - Conducting survey
    -Observing usability tests and other interactions with your website.You can also use secondary methods such as analytics, support desk queries, etc. The key is to get the information directly from the user rather than through secondary sources, so that you can discover both where your problem lies, and hopefully why there is a problem in the first place.
  • Create a balance between content and tools aimed at potential sales and those that serve your existing customer. Looking at analytics patterns on life insurance websites, just three sections account for 60-75% of user access: Premium Payment, Fund performance and Contact us pages, but this will vary widely from site to site. If 75% of visitors are existing clients, you want to make sure to provide enough customer support to serve that market. Similarly, if you witness a number of visits to your contact us page, your page may be a strong lead generation tool, and you want to create a path to serve that need.
  • Effectively structure your content. Websites selling insurance tend to err on the side of information overload. While you may feel that your audience needs a variety of detail, make sure to structure your information architecture so users can find information easily. Depending on your audience profile, consider creating categories for products based on type of insurance (motor, health, life, etc) or based on type of users (individual, business, family, etc).Your content structure should include not just the way that you categorize products, but how those product details are displayed. You want to make sure every element of your page helps the user find the right information easily without overwhelming them.
  • Make sure your site navigation is easy, intuitive and progressive. Lately, search as navigation has become an important element in content heavy websites such as insurance pages. Adding mega menus or progressive navigation to your page may improve your site search-ability – and avoids the risk of losing visitors when their first search fails to net the results they seek.
  • Consider progressive lead forms. At a very basic level, you want to reduce the overall friction on every single web page, and forms are one of the biggest sources. Users simply don’t like filling long form details or providing phone number/emails – especially on an insurance website.To negate this apprehension, some insurance firms are taking a progressive, content-based approach to mining their visitor information. Offering an articles on “what type of insurance you need” in exchange for some small personal details – called gated content behind a form – is easier for your visitors to stomach than filling out a long form in exchange for a final quote.Even better, you can create progressive forms, which will ask new questions every time the visitor fills out a new form, is a much less obtrusive means of gathering personal details, and also allows your company to gather information on your visitor over time, the way it would unfold in a real relationship.

With the 4X growth in the Indian market, it’s difficult to ignore the opportunity to create a stand-out insurance website. I hope this review of key usability challenges and the best ways to address them has inspired you to look into this market as well.

For those companies already in the Indian Insurance space – what discoveries have surprised you? How do these visitors differ from your other target markets? 

Customer Engagement