Four things I learned from watching 100 people get an insurance quote

In the world of user experience (UX) design, web forms are a common challenge. As a company, or brand, or website, or designer — how do you get people to give you information? How do you motivate them to start? How do you make it easy to get all the way through? How to you incentivise them to give the correct information?

Of all the sites and apps I’ve worked on, insurance quote forms encompass all these challenges. In general, people find insurance complicated and annoying.We understand we are buying “peace of mind”, but every month we make payments and don’t make a claim, feels like we’re throwing money away. Insurance companies are often viewed as necessary and valuable service, but a service that feels like it rarely pays off.

So, insurance companies have plenty of challenges to overcome this customer mindset. So they spend a lot on marketing to help shift this mindset and once a user decides to get a quote, the challenge is just beginning. For perspective, one of the clients I worked with had a current conversion rate from starting a quote to purchasing a policy of less than 5%. They were aiming to improve that by at least 1%, which equates to a significant revenue impact.

So as a designer, how do you capture important customer information in a way that doesn’t feel like a chore for users?

I’ve worked as a UX designer at an insurance company and for others as a UX consultant. Most recently, I spent two years consulting at a customer experience research agency, where two of my main enterprise clients were insurance companies. I’ve completed research for a range of insurance products: travel, home and contents insurance, health, car, and farm property. I’ve watched more than 100 people get insurance quotes in moderated usability test sessions, and learned a lot about the mental models that people have with insurance.

The findings were fascinating, and some seem to go against the form usability standards.

I’d love to know what you think of these insights in the comments below. Have you seen anything similar in the usability of insurance products?

1.People are willing to spend time to get it right

As UX designers, we spend a lot of time making forms and processes faster. Users should have a frictionless experience to completing the form and receiving their quote or policy. But sometimes faster isn’t necessarily better, and insurance is one of those exceptions.

When we presented a few versions of the quote process, some participants said things like, “Am I done? I feel like there should be more to it than that…”

The underlying insight is that insurance is important, and an important decision should take enough time to make the customer feel like they are considering all coverages and situations they might need. This is especially true for beginners, who are less comfortable with insurance terms. But it’s also true for experts who review and compare policies frequently. Time spent on the quote feels like an investment in their own protection.

Actionable advice

Don’t sacrifice information, education, and building comfort in the product for shorter form length.


2.Transparency is key

The most frequent thing I heard in nearly all of the test sessions is: “why are they asking that?”

In the first point, I said people were willing to spend time to fill out the form correctly for their needs. But they don’t want to answer a question they feel is unnecessary. For example, “What are the outside walls of your home made of?” Asking this is fine if the user knows that they its required to assess fire safety rating (and they could get a reduced rate for brick).

Insurance companies are sometime hesitant to do this, because they don’t want to “give away” too much information about how their pricing is calculated. (They are afraid users will lie to try to get a lower price, or their competitors will learn their pricing model.) But telling customers why you are asking will increase trust and lead to a better customer experience.

Actionable advice

Add information icons, tooltips, and brief descriptions of any potentially confusing fields to explain what affect the answer will have on the policy or premium. Fight for the user in meetings with product and underwriting teams if you have to.


3.Ambiguity reduces trust

Related to my second point: if you can’t justify or generally explain what will happen with the information provided by the customer, don’t ask it.

For example, there was a question on a home and contents quote form that read, “Is someone normally at home during the day?”

Users sometimes read this to mean that if they worked during the day, they might get charged more because their home was often empty. Sometimes they weren’t sure how to answer (“I work from home but I travel for weeks at a time”). This question immediately reduced the trust in the process. Not only trust in the insurer, but trust in their own ability to fill out the form correctly. In my research, most people said they would abandon the process after running into the second or third vague question like this. It feels too hard, and their confidence get lower and lower.

In this example, it turns out that it doesn’t even have much effect on the pricing, so we were able to convince the product team to leave it out.

Actionable advice

Work as a team to be ruthless with every question. Word/reword each question to have a clear purpose, to allow for the most black and white responses possible. If it’s not critical to the quote, cut it out.


4.Price is a key factor in decision making

In the background discussions with participants, some people would say that price was the most important factor in deciding on an insurance provider. Some say that price and cover is equally important, and they wouldn’t mind paying a certain amount (usually $20–30 per month) for insurers with better coverage or better reputation. Yet in both of these groups, users want to see the impact that selections in the quote form have on the final price. Even if the difference was $2, allowing the users to have some control on the price improved the overall experience.

The forms that tested the best asked for some minimal amount of information, than let the users play around with selecting cover and excess options and seeing the effect on the price in real time, with a quote amount always visible on the top or side.

Actionable advice

Surface prices as soon as possible, and let users play with selections to help them decide. Include any “upsell” or additional options here as well, while they are in the decision making stage.


Summary

In the user behaviour that I observed, insurance quote forms feel like they are going against generally usability principles. But the same user needs apply: trust in the site and the company, confidence that they are making the best decisions for themselves, and support along the way. If you’re designing a similar process, start with my “actionable advice” steps above, then test, test, test!

Another key consideration (at any enterprise company, but especially insurance companies) is the getting the business onboard. Some changes could feel minor in some sites but have a huge (a.k.a. expensive) backend

Thanks for reading! If this post was helpful, I would love to know. Comment below or send me a message. You can also subscribe to my UX Insights newsletter to get more like this occasionally. Thanks!

This post was originally posted on UX Planet