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Large internet companies could win insurance customers

Karl Flinders

Almost a quarter of consumers would consider large internet companies – such as Google and Amazon – as possible insurance providers.

Research from Accenture, of 6,000 consumers surveyed in 11 countries, revealed that consumers see large internet companies as viable alternatives to retail banks in the future. 

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Accenture's research showed that 67% of 6,000 consumers surveyed in 11 countries would consider buying insurance from companies other than insurers. Some 23% cited online service providers as options. A total of 43% said they would consider banks in their buying decision. Accenture said there could billions of pounds' worth of policies up for grabs globally, as 40% of consumers look to change providers.

“Competition in the insurance industry could quickly intensify as consumers become open to buying insurance not only from traditional competitors such as banks but also from Internet giants,” said Michael Lyman, global managing director for management consulting in Accenture’s Insurance industry practice

“Overall, there is a significant switching risk and we estimate that up to $400 billion in insurance premiums could change hands within the insurance industry over the next 12 months.”

Lower prices and demand for more personalised services were cited as important or very important in switching decisions by 87% and 80% of respondents respectively.

The research found that 67% of consumers are interested in mobile insurance services. These include the ability to send pictures of their car to report a claim, or displaying their proof of insurance on their mobile phone.  

Over a third of consumers are also willing to provide information about their lifestyle if it results in lower prices.

It is not just traditional insurers under threat. Retail banks could face competition from internet firms. Consumers use web-based services, which are trusted and have good IT, every day. If services such as PayPal, eBay, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter moved into banking, they would attract customers. Their systems already contain details about people and businesses and handle transactions and money.

Internet startups and heavyweight websites could provide bank accounts, said a banking IT professional.

"The age of the dinosaurs is over. I think banking will change from a few big firms to a multitude of smaller companies in the next few years. I think regulators and governments also want that to happen,” he said.


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