Australians are increasingly happy to bypass financial brokers and advisers to buy some financial products online and this year for the first time, CANSTAR has researched and rated direct income protection policies.
Our first-ever research into Direct Income Protection drills down into 80 profiles covering a variety of ages, occupations, gender and smoking status. As well as studying premiums, we looked at features of importance, such as policy terms, benefits, claims payment terms and ease of application.
We caught up with Direct Income Protection award winner InsuranceLine for a Q&A on what customers look for when buying income protection online.
Q&A with InsuranceLine
Q: Buying financial products online has come of age in Australia. Have you noticed an increasing trend towards buying online over time?
A: In the Direct Life Insurance market we?re now seeing a shift in online purchase behavior. Consumer preference for and consideration of online purchasing is increasing. Based on past research:
- 32% of customers prefer only to use the internet to research & buy life insurance
- 88% of customers would consider buying life insurance online in the future
(Google ZMOT research 2013)
Q: Has that trend been stronger in some demographics than others?
A: Digital, as a channel, now has a much broader demographic appeal. Our latest customer research suggests that older, more mature customers are increasingly digitally savvy. In fact, when given a choice to make initial enquiries by phone or online, over one-third of our customers choose to enquire through the website first.
Q: In terms of purchase, what proportion of customers phone your help line and what proportion simply purchase online?
A: Online purchases are increasing gradually, but most InsuranceLine customers still prefer to speak to someone on the phone when they?ve decided to make a decision to go the final step. People love to do their research and get quotes online, but there?s still a clear preference for that human contact when making the final decision to purchase.
Q: From customer feedback, what are some of the policy features that really appeal to your customers?
- Customers can choose a benefit period and waiting period that suits their circumstances and budget.
- Monthly benefits can be up to $10,000 and up to 85% of pre-tax income. Comparable products restrict cover to 75% of income. The extra 10% available at InsuranceLine allows people to maintain superannuation contributions while on claim or to use the additional cover for other ongoing expenses.
- Optional Involuntary Unemployment Cover is available for up to $3,000 a month for up to 3 months in addition to the standard cover for illness and injury. Unemployment Cover is not widely available.
- Optional Permanent Disability Cover of up to $500,000 is a relatively low cost option and allows customers on a tight budget to take, say, a lower-cost 6, 12 or 24-month benefit period for illness and injury cover, and to top it up with Permanent Disability Cover that would be payable in the event of a catastrophic permanent disability. A combination of shorter term benefits for short-term illness or injury with a lump sum payable in the event of permanent loss of physical independence.
CANSTAR congratulates InsuranceLine on its win; readers can download the Direct Income Protection report here.