Traditional insurers dominated the field in a new study analyzing digital competence—but InsurTechs are fast on their heels.

The Gartner L2 Digital IQ Index surveyed 49 insurers operating in the U.S., ranking them based on Digital IQ. Gartner L2 separated the insurers into five categories:

  • Genius (140+). Digital competence is a point of competitive differentiation for these brands. Creatively engineered messaging reaches consumers on a variety of devices and in many online environments.
  • Gifted (110-139). Brands are experimenting and innovating across websites, mobile and social platforms. Digital presence is consistent with brand image and larger marketing efforts.
  • Average (90-109). Digital presence is functional yet predictable. Efforts are often siloed across platforms.
  • Challenged (70-89). Limited or inconsistent adoption of mobile and social media platforms. Websites lack inspiration and utility.
  • Feeble (<70). Investment at these companies does not match opportunity.

Only three insurers ranked as Genius companies: State Farm, Allstate and Liberty Mutual.

Top-ranked State Farm earned a Digital IQ of 146. Gartner L2 said the carrier’s website demonstrates the best integration of content and commerce, while its digital marketing campaign includes top-five paid search visibility against keywords for auto, home and life insurance. State Farm’s mobile search listings on Google include local agent extensions, and the brand accounts for 23 percent of Index-wide YouTube video views.

Only one point behind was Allstate, ranked No. 2 with a Digital IQ of 145. Allstate’s website has extensive agent profiles that feature ratings/reviews, bios, awards and the ability to book an appointment based on availability. Allstate invests heavily in digital marketing, buying the second-most desktop video ad impressions and the third-most desktop static impressions. The carrier is strong in social media, using Facebook as a customer service channel and responding to two out of every three user comments, Gartner L2 said. Allstate is also the only brand in the Index to use a video “trailer” on the App Store to showcase its app features.

Coming in at No. 3 was Liberty Mutual, with a Digital IQ of 141. The carrier’s website features a find-an-agent tool that allows users to search by office location or agent. Gartner L2 said that Liberty Mutual’s recruitment-centric LinkedIn content resonates with employees, and its mobile app earned 14,000 reviews and a 5-star rating. In addition, the carrier’s email re-engagement tactics for prospects mimic those of retailers.

On the other end of the spectrum, the bottom three companies were:

  • QBE, ranked No. 47 with a Digital IQ of 44 because it failed to bid against branded search terms, leaving top-of-page real estate susceptible to competitive bidding.
  • National Indemnity Company, No. 48 with a Digital IQ of 42, which Gartner said was the only brand in the study that does not support a mobile-optimized website.
  • Hannover Re, ranked last with a Digital IQ of 34, thanks to a limited digital presence in the U.S., no social media adoption except for LinkedIn and no detected display advertising efforts.

Overall, traditional insurers dominated the top two categories, with the highest-ranked InsurTech, Jetty Insurance Agency, tying for No. 18 with a Digital IQ of 103. The startup, which offers renters insurance, launched in August 2017. Gartner said Jetty compensates for its limited organic visibility on Google by buying text ads against home insurance queries.

The next highest-ranked InsurTech, Lemonade, came in at No. 26 with a Digital IQ of 95. Gartner L2 noted that Lemonade bids on generic insurance keywords on the App Store instead of competing with traditional players on keywords relating to specific coverage areas.

Insureon, the only other InsurTech to rank in the Average category, came in at No. 31 with a Digital IQ of 90 because it lacks a mobile app and does not have a large social media presence.

Among the study’s other findings:

There’s an implicit bias in carrier website promotion toward servicing existing customers versus attracting new prospects. Gartner L2 found that visitors were more than twice as likely to land on a gated portion of the site (e.g., client login) rather than a general landing page or dedicated prospecting tool. The only leading brand to balance these dual objectives was GEICO. To make matters worse, among quote tools advertised on a carrier’s landing page, 23 percent do not collect customer contact information, 15 percent do not estimate a price on-demand, and 42 percent forward prospects to qualified agents—effectively blocking paths to self-service or direct enrollment.

While many prospective customers prefer going to insurer websites to gain information on products and pricing, 71 percent still prefer to enroll with a local agent. To help match customers to the best-qualified agent across a range of criteria, 51 percent of the carriers studied have built expansive agent directories, spanning local, exclusive and independent brokers. However, only Allstate, Farmers and Nationwide have implemented customer ratings and reviews to help customers make the best decision.