On-Site Coverage: Selling Insurance Online Can Boost Fee Income
Credit unions that want to get serious about fee income should look to insurance products sold on their websites, vendor Jeffrey Chesky told those who attended a breakout session at NAFCU’s Annual Conference Friday morning.
“Credit unions don’t think about their websites as e-commerce sites,” said Chesky, president/CEO of the East Windsor, Conn.-based credit union outsourced insurance provider Insuritas.
Instead, websites are only seen as a way to provide a free service, like mobile banking or education. Credit unions are leaving fee income on the table by failing to sell products like insurance on their websites, he said.
“Once you start making your website more than a place that provides just education and online banking, your members will engage you,” he said.
Imagine if members could fill out an application for GAP insurance or other types of insurance products while applying for loans online, Chesky challenged session attendees.
The insurance industry knows the traditional channel of selling insurance is under attack given that an increasing number of consumers don’t want to sit face-to-face with an insurance agent, or even speak with one over the phone, he added. Instead, they are purchasing insurance online with no interaction from an agent or representative, unless through online chat.
Online chat help, and a single shopping cart or checkout process, are two things consumers want and demand from ecommerce sites, he said.
Chesky did, however, warn of training requirements. He told a story of one insurance provider that launched online chat, but didn’t train its service representatives. They subsequently failed to respond to customers’ online chat initiations for three days.
However, once the firm trained representatives to respond to chat requests, 13 customers initiated chats the first day, of which nine purchased insurance online.
“This portal is a hotspot for connecting, educating, communicating and getting members to buy products and services online,” Chesky said of online chat service.
The $1.4 billion FAIRWINDS Federal Credit Union of Orlando, Fl., was profiled as a best practices Insuritas client during the session.
FAIRWINDS challenged Insuritas to provide a better ecommerce experience for members, Chesky said. The credit union delivered home and auto insurance quotes to members as part of the online loan application process, and generated fee income while increasing value to members, he added.
FAIRWINDS also sells insurance online through its CUSO, using shopping cart technology.
The credit union has done well cross selling insurance products to members, Chesky said, noting that 32.4% of sales emails were opened. Members would then click through to linked product webpages.
Selling products online is an opportunity to present disclosures in a way that is both cost-effective and timely, while also meeting regulatory requirements, Chesky said.
He also indicated a great regulatory value in capturing time and date stamps for when members click a button and accept disclosure terms.
Chesky added that having online disclosures, rather than hard copies, allows a credit union to make changes quickly and with little cost as regulations and disclosure requirements change.
“The only way we will drive change is if we demand it,” Chesky said. “So during your strategic planning sessions this fall, challenge the conventional way your products are presented to members.”