Auto insurance forms can be formidable beasts. Long, complicated and time-consuming, they often strike fear into a user’s heart.
The crucial information required may not be immediately accessible or easy to recall.
Can I remember my registration number without checking it? How can I predict how many miles I’ll be driving in the next 12 months? When exactly did I get that speeding ticket?
Easing this high cognitive load is a must for auto insurance companies.
In September 2017, I analysed the online forms of 26 major US auto insurance companies.
Measuring 52 different metrics from number of steps and fields to the use of mobile-friendly keyboards, each company has been ranked to create a UX league table.
No auto insurance form could ever be classed as short but it’s precisely because they’re long that you’re presented with a broad range of optimisation opportunities.
If it remains over-complex, you risk increasing your costs per quote, your abandonment rates and your marketing CPAs.
Making the form as straightforward as possible, reducing stress and frustration triggers, will see the conversions roll in.
My research reveals that:
- Insurance forms could be half the length
- Radio buttons are increasing in popularity
- Mobile keyboards aren’t being used effectively
- Inline messaging isn’t being taken advantage of
So which US auto insurance companies are expertly driving customer conversions and which need to give their online forms a full service?
Here’s a preview of the top and bottom five in my UX league table.
TOP OF THE TABLE
BOTTOM OF THE LEAGUE
Read about my methodology and data compilation technique.
What are the likes of American Family and InsureMyCarNow doing to reach pole position? And how can major companies such as MetLife move up the starting grid?
Here are my four key take-aways:
1. Form length could be dramatically reduced
A long form can be immediately off-putting. Auto insurers need to aim for concise but comprehensive to maximise the chances of customer conversion.
Number of fields is the key metric here: it’s been proved that reducing fields directly impacts conversion rates.
Our US auto insurance research shows an average of 45 fields per form: InsureMyCarNow captures all the necessary information in just 21 fields while Mercury requires an enormous 80. This is a significant difference in time, effort and cognitive load for what is essentially the same data-gathering process.
Systematically reducing the number of fields will have a direct impact on conversion rates, quotes and revenue.
The number of steps included doesn’t have a direct effect on conversion rates but it stands to reason that the longer a form is, the higher the chances of abandonment as frustration flares.
Getting the number right requires some experimentation: there is no magic formula. For example, Smart Financial top our table, despite having 17 steps, as they excel in other areas. A/B testing can help here to pinpoint what strategy works best for a particular business.
Clearly, the length of the form will have a direct impact on the time taken to complete it.
On average, an auto insurance form takes 210 seconds to complete, ranging from 127 seconds for InsureMyCarNow to a significant 325 seconds for Mercury.
This 200 second difference shows that it is possible to adapt a form to make it quicker to fill in. Time is precious, gifting a few minutes back to your customer will be noticed and appreciated.
But how can you do this? The main influence is the number of fields used, with a general trend of fewer fields = shorter completion time.
A secondary factor is the number of steps in the process. As these are usually separate pages, they each take time to load.
Reducing this number can boost performance: for example, Farmers is ranked in the bottom five despite its form only taking 13 seconds longer than average to complete. There are 23 steps to work through with page loads taking up almost a third of the total completion time.
A/B testing could be carried out here to see if this number, and subsequently the completion time, could be successfully reduced.
Completion times can also be lowered by carefully selecting your field type, which leads us into the second key take-away.
2. Insurers are wising up to radio buttons
Radio buttons are gaining popularity as forms are being designed to capitalise on their time-reducing, cognitive load-easing qualities.
While a drop-down menu will take an average of 3.6 seconds to complete, radio buttons take just 2.8 seconds. The user is immediately presented with a limited selection of options and can quickly glance at and click on the appropriate one.
Although not suitable for every field, for example inputting which country you live in will usually be best answered by a drop-down, using radio buttons at every appropriate opportunity is a wise decision.
Comparing the UX of a text box (open, requires typing), drop downs (closed list, requires clicking and reviewing) and radio buttons (closed, all options visible) the radio button wins with least total interaction required.
The highest scoring US auto insurers use fewer text boxes and drop-downs, opting for radio buttons to help users save time and effort.
The graph below shows that radio buttons make up 46% of all field types within the top five performers, compared to just 25% for the bottom five.
InsureMyCarNow, who come fourth in our league table, are on the ball here. They’ve abandoned drop-downs and tick boxes completely, favouring radio buttons (71% of total field types) and text boxes (29%).
At the bottom of the table, MetLife only use radio buttons in 10% of their fields.
Each fraction of a second saved by only having to click once – rather than the two clicks and subsequent scrolling required in a drop-down – will add up to make an overall impact.
3. Mobile keyboards aren’t being used enough
A large proportion of the big American auto insurers aren’t taking advantage of one very easy win: using mobile-friendly keyboards.
Almost half (42%) aren’t incorporating any of the three main types available to them: email, telephone and number.
This means that when a user is accessing the form via their smartphone or tablet, they have to switch between different keyboard types manually, increasing time spent and possibly frustration levels too.
Only half are using a number keyboard for simple inputting of figures, 58% are using an email keyboard for quickly adding an email address and another 58% are using a telephone keyboard to add a contact number.
Making mobile data entry easy, intuitive and quick is crucial as the switch to mobile use marches on.
These helpful keyboard types are an easy functionality to add and have a positive effect on conversions.
4. In-line messaging could be used more
Over half of the insurers analysed aren’t taking advantage of in-line validation and they’re missing a trick.
A recent Formisimo survey showed that 90% of consumers want in-line error messaging and 76% want in-line validation when they enter information correctly.
This technique acts as a helping hand, navigating a user through the form from start to finish. It creates a dialogue by highlighting issues and reassures that they are progressing and achieving.
Providing this within a long form with complex questions is especially important but only 46% of US auto insurers are using it.
Choosing to guide customers through these potential pain points via in-line validation is a no-brainer: you’ll engage with them on a more personal level, challenge their belief that completing your form will be difficult and move them positively towards the end of their form journey.
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