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Why are insurance websites not keeping up with cutting-edge UX?

Laura Martin
Reading Time:
6 minutes

While large aggregator sites and a few notable direct insurers are trailblazing ahead, on the whole, the insurance industry is lagging behind other industries in user experience. Why are insurance websites not keeping up with cutting-edge UX? Dock9 hosted a roundtable at the Gherkin on 8th September 2016 to discuss. We were joined by marketers from Charles Taylor, Thomas Miller, Hamilton Fraser, CRL, BLP Insurance and TT Club.

Some key themes that emerged during the discussion are below, along with pictures from the event.

Barriers to change

Despite many attendees being eager to change aspects of their website/back office systems there were some sticking points on the way to achieving them meaning small changes ended up taking a long time. 

One was being limited by underwriting rules - a lot of information ends up being mandatory with customers ending up with a long form - and new requirements for Treating Customers Fairly limiting how questions are presented to users. Overall, the view was that systems are functional and ask the information required but rarely built with best in class user experience in mind.

Another was push back from IT departments on the limitations of current insurance systems in place. In many cases delivering the instant quotes and self-service that customers expect is purportedly either not possible or prohibitively expensive and complicated to implement. This ties in with what Dock9 has experienced while working with our insurance clients, sometimes with a multitude of legacy systems in place. Ultimately we believe that in an increasingly competitive market this can no longer be an excuse. There are tried and tested strategies for delivering best-in-class user experience layered on top of legacy systems that don't require a full 'rip and replace' of core systems.

Optimizely was discussed as a tool that can enable changes to be made and A/B testing unencumbered by the restraints of your CMS or back office system.

User Testing

It was noted that the most successful insurance websites are driven by strong development processes that includes prototyping and user testing during development and optimisation after launch.

Most present agreed that this process is still rare within the insurance sector. Insurance websites, quote and buy processes, 'My Account' spaces and back offices are largely driven by the functional requirements from IT and underwriting.

Those that have instituted early testing and user testing into their process understood the difference this can deliver, both in actual deliverable improvements to user experience and the mindset shift this can create within the business if key stakeholders are involved in the process or presented with the results.

Importantly, user testing can also help get management buy-in and build a business case for changes to websites and systems. The video output from user testing sessions can be used to demonstrate the difference the changes will make, and ensure that what is ultimately passed to developers to implement is a proven idea that has already been tested with real customers.

If lab-based testing is out of budget lower cost alternatives such as WhatUsersDo offer cost effective ways of instituting some measure of user testing into your process.

Thinking beyond the online purchase journey

It was also mentioned that insurance UX is much more than the initial journey from quote through to purchase. Who ultimately owns or at least has oversight and vision of the end-to-end user experience?

Making a claim is the time when customers really experience the value of their insurance policy. Often this is outsourced and serviced separately to other parts of the journey, but is the critical experience that can make or break your reputation with the client.

Self-service portals (for mid-term adjustments and renewals) available on all devices, along with ready access to schedule documents is increasingly expected by users. However the ‘My Account’ space was often an after-thought or controlled by IT or an external software supplier.

Telephone vs Online

In the same vein, although some had launched online self-service products in the expectation that call centres would act as a back-up for small amounts of customers, in reality up to 70% of quotes are still processed over the phone for some products.

This includes customers calling up at the beginning of the process, and the call-centre following up on incomplete quotes. To deliver the best telephone experience it is important that call centre staff have vision of all the online interactions that a user has undertaken across all channels.

The same is true for Live Chat operators, which many cited as being successfully implemented in their user journeys. 


Ultimately to truly deliver the best user experience for their customers insurance companies first need to understand how their users are actually using the existing live platforms. This presented technical challenges for some, especially tracking from a main 'brochure' website all the way through to the end of a quote and buy journey which is often on another subdomain.

Cost-effective tools such as Hotjar enable cost-effective, field level analytics to see where your users are really experiencing pain points in the journey. Hotjar screen recordings of live website user interactions can supplement this to deliver unrivalled insight into your actual users.

Future events

If you have an Insurance UX challenge you are looking to solve please do get in contact with our UX team on 020 7977 9230.

Dock9 will be running more events in this series in the coming months so if you would like to attend a future one please email to be notified of upcoming dates.

Pictures from the event:

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Laura Martin
Laura Martin is Event Manager at Dock9, having previously worked in the financial sector for 15 years including at the Bank of England, Northern Trust and BNP Paribas