Motor market told to gear up for seismic market changes

Motor insurers have been accused of failing to understand and acknowledge the growing differences betweeen drivers aged over and above 35, being told they need to create new policies that reflect the way vehicles are now used.

Technology platform By Bits has released the results of research which found 77% of motor insurers need to evolve their policies and products to reflect the changes in how people are now using their cars.

It also warned that while insurers recognise the need to prepare for the arrival of autonomous and electric powered vehicles, few if any underwriters have taken any action.

The study found that the motor insurance sector is evolving at a rapid pace and exposing stark differences between how older (over 35 years old) and younger (35 years old and under) drivers use their vehicles, and the services and experience they expect from their insurers as a result. According to the research, drivers under 35 want insurers to deliver a more digitally-enabled and inclusive experience, with much greater levels of communication and ongoing engagement. Almost three quarters (74%) of under 35s would prefer to use an app to engage with their motor insurer, compared to 54% of older drivers. Indeed, 88% of under 35s say they would find a mobile app that stores all their driving needs in one place as useful, and more than 70% of younger drivers want an ongoing dialogue with their insurer, compared with 54% of older drivers.

Callum Rimmer, founder and CEO of By Bits, said: “The message is clear, insurers urgently need to get ahead of the seismic behavioural shifts and rapidly evolving consumer expectations that are being driven by COVID-19 and the imminent explosion of new technologies such as electric vehicles and semi-autonomous driving.

“This means reviewing their business models and re-defining their go-to-market strategies so that they really are meeting the needs of a new generation of drivers which has entirely different priorities and values to previous generations. If they act now and put the customer at the heart of their propositions, then insurers can create genuine differentiation in the market and establish a more sustainable and predictable commercial model for the future, escaping the long-standing race to the bottom on cost.”

As part of their wish for more engagement and dialogue, younger drivers are significantly more likely to share feedback with their insurers, said By Bits. 37% have engaged with insurers to express their views or to state what they would like their insurer to provide in terms of products and services, compared to only 14% of older drivers.

The research found that older drivers are also not satisfied with the service they are receiving. This is particularly true when it comes to pricing. 90% of drivers aged 35 and over want more transparency around pricing from motor insurers, 88% want pricing to be based on actual usage or mileage, and 91% want more jargon free and easy to understand documents.

The research found that drivers of all ages are feeling increasingly unhappy about both the products and experience that they are receiving from motor insurers. Yet worryingly, whilst most insurers are aware of the need to evolve their propositions to meet customer needs, very few are currently taking meaningful action to do so. Only 11% claim to be actively trying to make significant changes to their approach based on changing customer needs, and only 20% state that they’ve made significant changes to their portfolio in the last 12 months.

Looking further ahead, 80% of motor insurers say the increase in adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles will mean they have to change portfolio or pricing models. Similarly, 80% also say increase in semi-autonomous and assisted driving technology will have an impact.

Rimmer concluded, “Many insurers still appear to be approaching digital transformation and change from a traditional, inward-looking perspective. Rather than thinking first about how best to meet the needs of drivers, their guiding principle continues to be how they can best maintain the status quo by driving down cost and protecting their margins. To win in the long-term, insurers need to put the customer first and develop real and lasting choice in products, communication, service and price.”

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