Google now owns an insurance agency. Are you prepared to compete against Google?
Truthfully, I don’t think any of us are: Independent agents, captives or directs.
Whether we’re prepared or not, Google auto insurance comparison is coming. According to an article by Ellen Carney on the Forrester Research blog, auto insurance comparison will soon be launching on Google Compare (where Google is already comparing credit cards).
It’s not like we didn’t know this was coming, as Google Compare UK auto insurance rolled out in 2012. From all accounts, Google Compare UK auto insurance has been a complete success for Google.
Why wouldn’t it be?
Google understands the Connected Generation and how they shop for car insurance. Google understands that when it comes to the Connected Generation insurance consumer, “Local” is no longer a competitive advantage. When an insurance consumer has an issue with their current provider, what they’re not doing is getting in their car and driving into town to find a “Local agency.”
These insurance consumers are taking to the Internet in search of a solution. Google knows this because they’ve been tracking the activity of every person online for 15 years.
This is the essence of why I’ve been preaching “Content Marketing” from the top of every soap box I’ve been able to find over the last five years.
We can’t think of ourselves as just insurance professionals anymore. We have to be more than that. We must think beyond just what we do to the business of insurance and we certainly must become marketers in 2015.
Don’t Believe Google Compare Auto Insurance Can Disrupt the Market?
Take a look at the screenshot below from a search for “Car Insurance” in the UK (courtesy of Search Engine Land).
By Google owning search results, they can now add additional visual elements which attract consumer attention and enhance the buying experience. Two such features are shown in the image: Insurance carrier listing and car insurance shoppers can start a quote directly from the search engine page.
You also find Google Compare as the #1 organic search engine result (seen in the link directly below the “Sponsored” result).
Google Compare Auto Insurance (Current State)
Here is a snapshot of Google Compare’s current status in the US auto insurance market:
- Currently, Google Compare Auto Insurance Services, Inc is licensed in California, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, New Jersey, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. There may be more in process.
- There is a very high possibility that Google Compare has either bought or entered into an agreement with CoverHound, according to documents filed by Google, Inc with the state of California. If this is true, Google Compare now has in-house insurance expertise if they decide to ultimately sell insurance themselves as an agency.
What about insurance carriers?
- At present, Dairyland, MetLife, Mercury, Permanent General Assurance, Viking Insurance of Wisconsin and Workmen’s have all confirmed their association with Google Compare (See any independent carriers in there?).
Google has access to insurance markets, and they’ve either just bought the expertise in CoverHound or will hire it and is licensed to do business in 25 states. This is probably redundant to say, but I will anyway, Google is ready to Rock’n’Roll in the US auto insurance market.
How to Prepare for Google Compare
Ladies and gentlemen of the insurance industry (especially those focused on personal lines), this is “Go Time.”
Do not kid yourself, Google may be starting with personal auto insurance, but believe that homeowners, boat, umbrella, etc are on the way. Oh, and for all the commercial lines insurance professionals reading this, smugly thinking to yourself that you don’t need to worry… if Google is willing to purchase CoverHound (potentially), what’s to keep them from buying Insureon (the fastest growing agency in the country focused on digital commercial lines sales).
Here are five ways to prepare your business for Google Compare:
- Show up in local search – Google may be able to manipulate search results, but they still need to serve their primary asset, the users searching for an insurance provider. Read our Complete 2015 Guide to Local SEO for Insurance Agents and make sure you show up when local insurance consumers have a need.
- Build fences around current clients – Insurance sales coaches have been preaching this mantra for decades. Traditional methods of building fences include cross-selling, up-selling and providing additional services to insurance (i.e. real estate, financial advising, etc).
- Enhance network – More than ever, we’re going to need friends. This means becoming partners with the other professionals in our clients’ lives (i.e. lawyers, accountants, etc).
- More yearly touches – For the consumers who only hear from their insurance provider when they receive their renewal in the mail, there is enormous opportunity for Google to take that business. Insurance consumers are looking for answers to their questions, the company that provides the answers wins. Tools such as email autoresponders, social media and properly utilizing an agency management system can help increase the number of touches each year.
- Embrace technology – This means taking on new service technology such as eSignature, 24/7 Call Centers and cloud systems which allow staff to work from anywhere, anytime. Technology has a cost for sure, but not sure if technology may have a larger cost.
Regardless of how well you’re prepared, drastic changes are coming to our industry. Everywhere you turn, someone is trying to get what we have. We can either stick our head in the ground, or as so many amazing insurance professionals are already doing, start taking to the battle to these invaders.
I hope you choose the latter…
Thank you and good luck,
I am Ryan Hanley