Car Insurance Form Insight

How Insurers use online forms to get customer information

Car Insurance Quotation Forms - Best Practice Delivers Big Results

For an insurer to give an accurate car insurance quote they have to ask for a significant amount of information from the customer. It's a long process that generates significant cognitive load for the user. In this report we analyse the car insurance quote forms for leading UK insurers.

Insurance forms are long, often mobile-unfriendly and have a poor UX. This leads to:
Increased Cost Per Quote Higher Marketing CPAs Increased Abandonment

Our Analysis

We carried out this analysis in December 2016 and we chose a typical insurance quote case: married man, standard car that had already been purchased and the registration number is known, has no claims discount, has full driving license and is employed. For the analysis of the payment stage our persona wanted to pay monthly, and for fully comprehensive insurance. We only counted required fields within our analysis. For insurance aggregators (e.g. GoCompare) the payment process sits on the insurers website, so we took the average fields on a payment step (12 fields) and added this on to as a final step. When an average number is given in this report it is a mean average (unless stated as median).

Five Key Take-aways

It's possible to halve the number of fields in the quotation form. The difference between the least and the most number of fields across all insurers almost double. The volume of fields and the length of time to complete have an indirect relationship with the conversion rate of the quotation form. Reducing the form to as few fields as possible will increase completed quotations.

Usage of mobile keyboards is low. Adding attributes to your email, numeric or telephone questions will show the most appropriate keyboard on a mobile device, saving the user significant time. Less than 40% of insurers use keyboards for numbers, 58% display email keyboards and 64% use them for telephone numbers.

Aggregators use inline validation, direct insurers don't. Validating answers in-line (by showing the user a tick if correct, a message if incorrect) saves potential customers time, and makes error handling easier.

The highest scoring insurers use fewer text boxes and drop downs. Radio buttons are more likely to be used by high-scoring insurers, they give the potential customer immediate visibility on all the options and less interaction is required to select an answer.

Auto-selecting or populating data is a significant time saver. Questions like "Is your car left hand drive or right hand drive" are likely to give the same response by 99% of potential customers. Pre-selecting the most popular option in drop downs and radio inputs reduces the complection time (and indirectly the conversion rate) significantly.

Insurance forms come in many different sizes

Each step is a new page or new section for a potential customer to absorb, so whilst there's no magic number of steps that will lead to a higher conversion rate there's likely to be drop off if the process gets too long. Saga's 15 steps are likely to put off customers, whereas MoreThan's three step process is an overload of questions in each step. There's a balance to be found by testing and monitoring.

Double the number of fields is twice as painful

The difference between the highest and lowest number of fields in an insurance form is significant, with AXA requiring 76 fields to be engaged with before a successful submission and Aviva requiring just 39. That's a significant difference in time and effort required to complete the form.

There was no difference between direct insurers and aggregators - the mean average number of fields is 57.15 for direct and 56.50 for aggregators (the median was 58 for direct, 56.50 for aggregators).

Insurance Quotation Forms are Toploaded

The average number of fields in Step 1 and Step 2 of a car insurance process is four times the average of the remaining steps. Toploading helps get people in to the buying part of the process in fewer steps, but can cause high abandonment as users are put-off by the volume of questions.

The Average Fields per Step is 15.00 for Step 1, 16.00 for Step 2. Across the remaining steps the average is 4.15. When you split this by aggregator (e.g. Confused.com) and non-aggregator there's less toploading on Steps 1 and 2 for the non-aggregators. For aggregators the average number of fields in Step 1 is 7.75 and Step 2 is 14.00. Across the remaining steps the average is 5.67 fields.

Aggregators back-load

Top-loading questions in the first two steps runs the risk of putting potential customers off. The psychology of multiple steps with a more even spread of questions is that people feel rewarded for moving through steps faster, but as they get deeper in to the steps they feel more committed to the process (and have a belief that the next step is probably the last step, so they'll push through this step). What's interesting about the aggregators is that there is a final step that they have no control over (payment details, which average 12 fields) but there's also an easing in with almost half the number of questions in step 1.

Auto-selection Reduces Time To Complete

Reduce customer effort by automatically selecting an option in a drop down or a radio button. You can do this based on previous data (some insurers auto selected details on the car after you had entered your registration number) or by picking the option that most people use.

Example of Compare the Market auto selecting fields

All of the fields shown were automatically selected from the vehicle registration, saving time but still allowing me to adjust them. Instead of having to read the question then process what my answer would be, I can scan read the question and see that the correct response is already there.

Example of LLoyds quote form selecting fields automatically

Which field types are most used?

How The Top Five Use Field Types (vs Bottom Five)

Comparing the top five insurers (ranked using our scoring at the base of the page) and the bottom five insurers the higher performing sites move away from text boxes and drop-downs and use radio buttons. Radio buttons (where the user has a choice between two or more items, presented as items that are clickable) are much easier to complete, they're not ideal for when there's a lot of options but when a user has to make a choice between two to four options it allows them all to be presented to the user without them having to click.

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 on total interaction required. A radio button requires a single click on the right option, whereas a drop down requires a minimum of two clicks, with an unfurling of the options that will then need to be read and absorbed.

From our research on insurance forms the radio button is much easier to restyle, to make it easier to absorb and also fit in with brand guidelines.

Mobile Friendly Keyboards

Using attributes on fields to show different mobile keyboards is an easy way to make data entry faster. If you're asking the user a question and the answer can only be a number or a telephone number then you can reveal a keyboard that shows numbers only. For email entry you can reveal a keyboard that has an '@' symbol visible, rather than being hidden behind shift. There are other keyboard types that make entry on a mobile device even easier.

Adding this capability to a form is simple, but the uptake on insurance forms is low. Less than 40% of forms use a number keyboard, and 64.52% use an email keyboard. This changes when you compare direct to aggregators, with a higher uptake across all keyboard types on aggregators. Out of four aggregators only one didn't use an email or telephone keyboard, and half used a number keyboard.

Not Validating Inline Is A Missed Opportunity

Inline validation is a good way to highlight issues as a user moves through a form, and when you have a long form with complex questions it's a necessity. Showing errors whilst the user is engaging with a question is better than having the user click submit and then they're then presented with a list of all their mistakes.

The uptake on insurance forms is low, with just 51.61% of brands using inline validation. However 100% of the aggregators use inline validation, whilst just 51.85% of non-aggregators do.

Asking for Dates - no right or wrong

Insurance forms ask for at least two dates (date of birth, date that cover will start) and there are many ways to get a date from a user. Examples include three text boxes, three dropdowns, a text box with a calendar or a combination of text boxes and drop downs (usually the drop down is for the month). Some insurance forms we analysed had two buttons for on the "insurance start date" for "today" or "tomorrow", allowing you to quickly select those dates.

Example of Go Compare with Today and Tomorrow buttons

The text box / calendar combination box on the left hand side would take a minimum of two clicks to choose a date, or if you want to use the keyboard a single click then eight keypresses. Having the Today and Tomorrow options on this form makes it significantly easier for users.

Example of different Insurance date inputs

Making Sure Vital Data Is Correct

Confirmation of your insurance is critical as if the process hasn't completed successfully you'll be driving around illegally, so if you make a mistake with your email you'll have to call up. I was suprised that the critical contact fields (email and telephone) weren't asked for twice on many forms. Whilst it adds time to the process it reduces errors.

Only 20% of insurers ask you to confirm your email a second time, either immediately after you enter it the first time or later in the process. Only 10% ask for confirmation of phone number, but 100% of insurers have postcode lookup. Looking up the address via the users postcode not only saves time but improves the quality of the data.

Scoring All Insurers

To score each insurer we generated a ranking out of 70, which took into account the number of steps and fields (related to the median score for each) and scored insurers based on the percentage they were above or below this. We also scored insurers based on the removal of unnecessary obstacles, and the mobile friendliness of each form based on the usage of mobile keyboard attributes. Having a livechat and postcode lookup was also part of the scoring process, and using inline validation boosted scores further.

The aim of our scoring was to take into account attributes of the form rather than the look and feel. Some insurance forms were more attractive than others, but as design is subjective we chose not to apply any marks for forms that we felt looked better or worse.

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