Life insurance calculators leave a lot to be desired

By Maryalene LaPonsie on July 16th, 2012

According to a consumer group, online life insurance calculators may be confusing customers and providing inconsistent quotes. The Customer Respect Group looked for calculators on the websites of 22 life insurance companies and then tested those available. The results of those tests included reports of inconsistent life insurance quotes and inadequate support text.

Of the 22 company websites reviewed, only 15 provided consumers with a life insurance calculator. The Customer Respect Group noted that while some life insurance companies provide a link to a calculator on their main page, others were more difficult to locate. In addition, some companies had a calculator link on the home page, but not on the pages for specific products such as term life or whole life.

Overall, the consumer group identified what it considered significant issues with the currently available calculators:

  • Unsatisfactory help text
  • Confusing language
  • Inconsistent results when similar data was inputted
  • Poor escalation facilities
  • Significant variations in input criteria

Depending on the website, the calculators required anywhere from 10 to 30 input fields before recommending a level of coverage. In addition, 40 percent used language The Customer Respect Group believes will confuse consumers.

Calculators fail to link to life insurance quotes

The testing also determined that 65 percent of life insurance calculators fail to link their coverage recommendation to an actionable next step. Most do not offer consumers any guidance as to how to contact an insurance agent or the company for further information. Even on sites that offered online life insurance quotes, there was often no direct link between the coverage calculator and the quote engine.

However, not all life insurance companies fared poorly in the reviews. USAA and Allstate were noted for having integrated their life insurance calculators and quote engines. State Farm was also recognized for linking the two tools.

According to The Customer Respect Group, insurers may be hesitant to provide a more streamlined interactive service for fear that consumers will be less inclined to contact an insurance representative if they are able to do all their research online. Another possibility put forth by the group is that companies designed the calculators with agents in mind instead of consumers.

Regardless of the reason, The Customer Respect Group encourages life insurance companies to make their calculators more accessible as well as provide more guidance to consumers regarding how to get life insurance quotes once they know their recommended level of coverage.

Maryalene LaPonsie
Maryalene LaPonsie has been writing professionally for more than a decade on topics including education, insurance and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Western Michigan University.

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