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Phoning for home insurance? That’ll take 12 minutes

11th May 2016 Print

Home insurance customers need to expect to be on the phone for an average 12 minutes if they phone to check a quote, analysis from insurance market experts Consumer Intelligence shows.

Its study among the top 15 home insurers shows customers phoning to check an online quote will be on the phone for 721 seconds – and it can take as long as 18 minutes or 1,080 seconds, or more

At least two minutes and 45 seconds will be spent getting through the recorded message at the start – so-called Interactive Voice Recognition – and that is just the average. The longest time recorded to get through to an agent was nearly six minutes

After all of that the call is unlikely to end with signing up for a new policy – only 31% of the calls monitored by Consumer Intelligence ended with the insurance agent trying to close the sale.

The insurance market experts checked online quotes with the top home insurers as part of mystery shopping research to find out how well calls are handled against a range of measures.

In general insurers performed well with 82% of call handlers asking for quote re references and 79% were able to find quote on their system..

Ian Hughes, Chief Executive of Consumer Intelligence said: “Insurance companies generally achieve high levels of customer satisfaction and put a lot of effort into retaining customers.

“However people are busy and many may object to spending a long time on the phone particularly if their inquiry is not dealt with efficiently”

“Companies need to look at how their phone calls are being handled particularly now that prices are rising again and customers will be shopping around more.”

Its study found just one in five (21%) of insurance agents offered to call back to discuss the quote and 22% said online discounts were not available for customers buying over the phone.

Consumer Intelligence’s data shows average home insurance premiums have risen 3.1% to £119 in the past three months following the introduction of Insurance Premium Tax increases in November.

Consumer Intelligence’s analysis - which is used by the Government’s Office of National Statistics to calculate official inflation statistics – found the tax rise is being passed directly to homeowners reversing years of falling premiums.