There are a few quote options you can offer your customers on your insurance agency website, depending on the type of insurance and your state. Let’s focus on the most commonly shopped insurance type - auto insurance.
General Lead Capture Form
You get a bit of information from the shopper, call/email the lead back for more info, and then run a quote for them through your own internal system - whether you use an agency management system, comparative rater, or simply run a quote in each insurance company’s system that you represent, and then call/email them back with the quote.
While this sounds cumbersome, it can actually give you the opportunity to get to know the lead and offer up your own expertise. If a shopper just wanted a quick quote and to do everything themselves online, and didn’t want any help, let’s face it - they could have just gone with a direct insurer that offers online rates. But they came to you - so don’t discount the personal interaction requirements with this option.
You should always have one of these on your website, even if you choose to have an instant quote option. There is a segment of the population who will always go this route.
Direct Insurance Company Quotes
Some insurance companies offer a way to run a quote through their website. You obtain a snippet of code or a link from one of the insurance companies you represent and put it on your insurance agency website. This code or link contains a unique identifier for your agency (like your producer code), so when a shopper runs a quote, it’s tied to your agency (and likely you’ll be notified by the insurance company system that someone ran a quote so that you can follow up).
This is a great option to have on your website for impatient late-night or weekend visitors. They really want a number right then.
Some insurance agents are hesitant to use this option since they visitor is leaving their website, and may see a “find an agent” feature on the insurance company website, and thus possibly losing the lead to another agency. There aren't any available statistics to show how often this actually happens, but if you don’t offer the instant quote option on your website, that impatient late-night visitor wouldn’t have filled out your form anyway. Hard to lose something that you never had to begin with.
You can also pay for software from companies who provide comparative rating, meaning they allow a user to enter their information in one place, and then calculate and display rates from participating insurance carriers.
While this can give a general idea of a rate, many agents find that the process is imprecise, due to the variance in what each insurance company needs for providing a quote.
Feedback on comparative raters is mixed - some like offering the convenience, while others feel that the rates returned are often (inaccurately) high, and scare a lead away without giving the agent a chance to discuss how rates are calculated and find discounts that were not included in the online rate. By the time the agent has time to follow up, the lead is long gone.
If you choose to have a simple lead capture form on your website (no instant quoting), then you should make sure it's secure. This means that the form is submitted over SSL. At a minimum, the URL of page your form exists on should start with HTTPS. You should confirm with your website provider that your form is secure. In addition, the information submitted via this form should not be simply emailed to you. You should have to login to a secure portal to obtain the details of what they submitted.
If you choose to have a comparative rater on your website, you will need to either add a link to your website or embed an iFrame into a page. Your comparative rater vendor can tell you what implementation options they offer.
Which is Right for You?
Every agency is unique, and the sales process varies from agent to agent. If you decide to use a comparative rater or let customers quote directly with one of the insurance companies you represent, you should still have a simple lead form on your insurance agency website. Not comfortable with displaying rates on your website? That’s OK - a lead capture form is a great option.