In a LIMRA study 6 in 10 consumers who were direct buyers of life insurance said they experienced no problems and were pleased with their entire buying process.
The study Shopping for Life Insurance: Spotlighting Direct Response Customers considered a variety of direct response methods such as internet/email, through the mail, and over the phone. From there the study classified buyers into four categories starting with a liberal definition of direct response: "all buyers who secured coverage via mail, phone or internet" through a more specific strict definition: buyers with no face-to-face contact with a life insurance professional while shopping who mailed an application directly to an insurer, applied over the phone via Interactive Voice Response or applied online unassisted through an insurer's website.
For each category, over 60 percent of consumers using direct methods saw no downside to their experience. As the definition of direct became stricter, this measure rose to nearly 70 percent.
Consumers said the greatest advantages of buying by direct response were convenience (nearly 40 percent), not feeling pressure to buy (20 percent) and saving money (16 percent).
The biggest drawbacks to direct response involved uncertainty over whether the consumer selected the appropriate amount or appropriate type of insurance, as well as the lack of personal contact.
When asked about comfort with direct response, whether they'd use it again and likelihood of recommending, all three scored positively — nearly as high as face-to-face. (See Chart)
LIMRA's sales surveys estimate that direct response makes up nearly 20 percent of new individual life policies. High consumer comfort levels with direct response coupled with advances in technology that provide consumers more access to information offer insurers great opportunity to improve their success in reaching the elusive middle-market.
Direct response methods can effectively reach underserved consumers who otherwise might not get the financial protection they need. Direct response also satisfies those consumers who want the convenience of an unassisted shopping experience. While many buyers still prefer to meet face-to-face, direct response methods offer advisors the ability to efficiently reach additional prospects and also improve contact with existing customers.