The Internet offers significant opportunity for providing growth in the individual health and life insurance industry.

So what about online quote engines and e-applications? An effectively-designed quote and e-application system for individual health and life insurance needs to be able to accommodate three environments:

  1. Quote accessed at corporate sites by potential customers attracted by the carrier’s advertising.
  2. Quote accessed by independent agents to provide quotes for prospects generated by their own marketing efforts.
  3. and integration with major insurance lead engines – online marketers like EHealth Insurance and Norvax.

I just did a quick analysis of one particular state in the south. There are about 10,000 searches per month across all major search engines for the keyword that includes the state name followed by “health insurance.” Note: Most likely, these are not agents. Agents already know who the major providers are. These searchers are individuals who have a need for health insurance and are looking for solutions. So why aren’t insurance carriers making it easy for those individuals to get a quote or apply online? Most systems I’ve seen just aren’t user friendly for potential customers.

For example, one major carrier requires the searcher to access the parent company site. Then, about 12 clicks later, a persistent and Web-savvy person finally finds the first page of the quote! The big carriers are really fumbling their approach when it comes to online quote engines and applications. That leaves the market wide open for the other guys. If they act quickly and partner with somebody who already knows how to build and promote quote engines and e-applications, they can quantum leap the competition and establish themselves as a smart health and life insurance provider for years to come.

There is a large market at stake — not just the 200 to 300 individuals in one state who want to buy health and life insurance online today, but the 100,000 who want to buy online in that state in 2006, and the 150,000 in 2007. Electronic commerce on the internet is growing and will continue to grow. In 1995 there were $350 million in online sales overall — hardly a blip on the $1.7 trillion in retail sales. But by 2006 experts believe online sales will total between $5 billion and $14 billion. Online insurance sales are sure to generate a chunk of that, and the carriers and distributors who are taking positive steps today will get the biggest piece of the pie tomorrow.

Again, as I’ve said before, don’t let your IT department slow you down if they are buried elsewhere. Find a technology partner that knows how to make online quoting and e-application easy for the prospect, and get in the game!