Since December, Desjardins Group, has offered the possibility of buying an auto insurance policy entirely online from quote to policy purchase, without the help of an agent. The organization officially announced this fact earlier this week.
This possibility is presently reserved for Quebec consumers who want to purchase coverage through Desjardins Group subsidiaries, Desjardins Insurance or The Personal. During the online sales process, a certified agent would be made available if required, Desjardins underlined during an interview with The Insurance and Investment Journal.
In making this move, Desjardins says it wants to follow the current trend which sees the market migrating to digital, said Alain Hade, Vice President, member-client experience and marketing at Desjardins Insurance, in an interview with The Insurance and Investment Journal.
“Customers increasingly want to have a complete virtual alternative (to buying insurance), that is simple and well done. For sure, the interest in our service is not comparable to the release of a new iPhone, but the interest is there," he says.
Clients in control
Although the service has been available to consumers since December, Desjardins issued an official announcement this week. It stated that the fully online service, “puts clients in control from start to finish. Clients are guided through the process with helpful pop-up windows and clear definitions of insurance-y terms. Questions are explained with examples, and users are told why they're being asked. Different coverage options are then presented, based on the client's needs and the information they provided. At this point, users still have the option to make changes and see how it affects their premium.”
Hade says reaction from online service clients has been excellent so far. “We contacted each client who completed the entire online purchasing process, which allowed us to identify areas for improvement. Since the solution is online, corrections…are easy to make," he says.
For young and old
Although the younger generation is the main target of this new service, it has attracted people of all ages. "We tend to believe that older people are not using mobile and online services, but that's not true. Use of mobile and online services is more widespread than we think," said Desjardins spokesperson, Valerie Lamarre, who also participated in the interview.
Desjardins explains that several customers over the age of 50 have purchased their car insurance policy online since the service began. Customers aged 80 and older have also used the automated service.
Buying through agents
Hade underlines that it is also important to offer consumers the opportunity to buy their policy through an agent. "Even though young people seem to be born with a smart phone in their hands, they may be worried about buying their first car insurance policy online. They may prefer to be in touch with a real person."
He adds that nothing can replace the relationship between two individuals. He specifies that all insurance agents who provide assistance, even with the online purchase of a car insurance policy, are certified.
Whose responsibility is the claim?
At a recent conference in Montreal, the Journée de l’assurance de dommages, Hade touched on the thorny issue of liability if a client misunderstands a question during the online sales process. He asserted that Desjardins would take responsibility for it. However, he said in an interview that Desjardins will take responsibility and compensate the customer if the insurer realizes that it failed to ask a question when underwriting the risk online.
"We built our site with consumers to make sure everything was clear. So, we will take for granted that the answers provided by the customer are the right ones," he says.
Hade added that all submissions made online are verified. In case of an abnormality, the customer is contacted by a certified representative. "We want to be certain that everything is consistent in the same way as if an advisor had explained the different policies."
Meets the requirements of Bill 141
Hade adds that this launch was made with the intention of respecting the requirements set out in Bill 141 – new Quebec legislation that has not yet been adopted.
"When we developed our solution, we turned to the recommendations that the Autorité des marchés financiers suggested to the government.” He added that when the bill becomes law, it would surprise him if Desjardin’s online platform is off-side with the government's new measures.
This week Desjardins also announced that clients now have the option of submitting a claim online on their own, or with the help of a claims advisor. The service is offered across Canada for clients of Desjardins Insurance, State Farm and The Personal. “Clients can report their claim and have their coverage, liability, and deductible confirmed. They can even book an appointment with an auto repair shop for a damage appraisal—all online,” stated the announcement.
Desjardins added that depending on the extent of the damage to the vehicle, clients can now use the Desjardins Insurance Home-Auto, State Farm or The Personal mobile apps to submit pictures of the damage after an accident. The pictures get sent directly to an auto appraiser, so the client only has to go to the repair shop once – for the actual repairs.