Direct insurers' complacency leaves opportunity for brokers online, says consultancy

Brokers have the opportunity to seize market share in the online sector due to direct insurers' complacency, according to a web consultancy.

Foolproof, which conducts research into online shopping for motor and home insurance, said the online market was "up for grabs" due to websites being under-utilised by both brokers and insurers.

Peter Ballard, managing partner at Foolproof, told Insurance Times: "Direct writers like to believe that the strength of their brands is enough to suck people into their sites, but we know that the distribution of the message via search engines, comparative sites and affiliated sites is much stronger that the brand."

He said, as a result, there was a real opportunity for brokers to gain market share.

"You can be a broker and compete against the likes of Norwich Union (NU) if you are in the right place with the right message."

Ballard added: "Online consumers are looking for sites that appear to solve their insurance problems. This doesn't necessarily have to come from NU and Direct Line."

According to the company's research, the power of a company's brand disappears in the online insurance market.

The consultancy's latest survey, out at the beginning of October, is expected to mirror last year's findings, which revealed that only 1% of online shoppers actually bought motor or home insurance through a website.

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The deal will see initially offering a price comparison tool on motor insurance, with plans to further develop the proposition in the coming months.

Matt Munroe, head of business development for ComparetheMarket, said: "We will be developing a home proposition, and will have the ability to launch motorbike price comparisons in the first quarter of next year.

"We are also looking at commercial propositions, we are starting to see SME [business] emerge out of affinity deals."

Munroe also said there had been a turn around in the number of people now looking online to buy motor insurance. The company had three more affinity deals in the pipeline.

"Organisations are now starting to get a scale of how they can stretch into other areas by using the internet," said Munroe. "Internet organisations are looking for something different."