Fewer consumers shopped for new car insurance companies in the last year, but of those who did shop, a record percentage switched insurers, according to the "J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study."
The research shows 25 percent of auto insurance customers shopped for a new policy in the last year, compared to 33 percent who did so in the previous year. But among the shoppers, 43 percent switched car insurance companies -- the highest rate since the study began measuring retention in 2008, and an increase of 3 percentage points from 2011.
Meanwhile, auto insurance companies are spending more money to encourage customers to switch insurers, according to J.D. Power. Advertising expenditures by auto insurers rose 12 percent in 2011 over 2010, according to an analysis of 2011 statutory filings data performed by Dowling and Partners LLC.
The J.D. Power and Associates study found that 52 percent of car insurance shoppers start shopping online, and 73 percent visit at least one insurance company's website. Thirty-two percent of customers obtain quotes solely online, and 34 percent of all recent shoppers say they prefer to purchase their new policies online.
"Shoppers now expect to be able to visit an insurer's website and complete their purchase in the same visit," Jeremy Bowler, J.D. Power and Associates' senior director of the global insurance practice, said in a press statement. "In most cases, shoppers can compare many policies online and narrow down their search field entirely via this self-service paradigm. From that point, they can then decide if they need to speak with an agent or to continue their online purchase process."