Life and Health Online Insurance: Latin America Review

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12 January 2015


Insurers offer a variety of distribution channels for buying insurance. Agents, brokers, retailers, banks, and a myriad of nontraditional distribution channels are being employed by insurers.

Each insurance channel uses at least one other channel to reach customers, such as a front office, call center, branch, mobile app, website, social media site, or field staff. For example, the use of online chat, avatars, and concierge services make the online shopping experience much easier, even when advice is required as part of the sales process.

In the report, Life and Health Online Insurance: Latin America Review, Celent discusses online sales channels of 169 Latin American insurers, their availability, the breadth of their offering per country, and their lines of business.

Buying insurance online should be as easy as a click. This experience is common in online retail, for example with Amazon and aggregators like the ones found in the travel industry (Kayak, Travelocity, Expedia,, and most recently Hipmunk). Even airline websites provide such excellent online experiences that many airlines have decided to move to mobile.

Although the majority of insurers have set up their websites as part of their digital strategy, the level of automation varies. A handful of websites allow customers to have a whole digital experience without human intervention; very few require some type of assistance to complete the sale or the transaction; and more than half of them are just informational.

“Although insurers have shown interest in investing in digital strategy, especially on sales and services of online products, they have not been successful in execution,” says Luis Chipana, an analyst with Celent’s Insurance practice and coauthor of the report. “The percentage of insurers taking advantage of technology to improve the experience of customers purchasing insurance through transactional web portals is still low.”

“The growth of Internet and e-commerce in the last years and the shift in consumer preferences and attitudes in terms of online shopping and immediate gratification have opened the door to forces that could reshape distribution as we know it,” says Juan Mazzini, a senior analyst with Celent’s Insurance practice and coauthor of the report. “In lines of business where customers do not perceive the value of distributors or where online assessment is possible, the business model could seriously be affected, and direct online insurance models could arise.”