Uptick in Auto Insurance Shopping Follows Uneven Activity for Most of 2020
New TransUnion research reveals impact of COVID-19 on insurance shopping
The percentage of consumers shopping for personal auto insurance increased at the end of 2020 following large fluctuations – both on an increasing and decreasing basis – observed after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. New research from TransUnion’s (NYSE: TRU) Insurance Shopping Snapshot Report reveals the rate of personal auto insurance shopping in 2020 rose 6.2% on a year-over-year (YoY) basis during the month of December.
The YoY shopping uptick observed in the weeks following Thanksgiving likely reflects strong stock market performance, improving consumer confidence, promising vaccine advancements and an increase in new car sales.1
“While insurance shopping remained below 2019 levels throughout much of the second half of 2020, rates began to rise once again YoY in the last few weeks of the year – a promising trend heading into 2021,” said Mark McElroy, executive vice president and head of TransUnion’s insurance business. “Various factors such as the next round of economic stimulus payments, vaccine distribution and leading financial indicators will be important considerations as we continue to watch insurance shopping in the months ahead.”
Insurance shopping levels varied in the second half of the year as a result of the pandemic. Rates spiked to +12.6% YoY for the week ending July 5, building on the increases reported in June 20202 and coinciding with an uptick in used vehicle sales.3 These trends quickly cooled off toward the end of July and August, followed by a spike then dip in early September resulting from blunted renewal shopping activity tied to a pandemic-shortened March busy season.
Subsequent levels remained below 2019 shopping rates through the end of October. Notably, shopping dropped even further in early November to -9.7% for the week ending November 8, as insurance advertising took a back seat to election cycle ad spend.
Second Half of 2020: Largest Weekly Year-over-Year Changes in Auto Insurance Shopping
Week Of (2020)
YoY % Shopping Change 2020 vs. 2019
Four Largest YoY Shopping Increases
Jun. 29-Jul. 5
Aug. 31-Sept. 6
Nov. 30-Dec. 6
Four Largest YoY Shopping Decreases (Q3-Q4)
Oct. 26-Nov. 1
“We’ll likely see the economic challenges of 2020 continue to impact drivers well into 2021, especially among the higher-risk groups that also have a higher concentration of younger drivers,” said David Drotos, vice president of insurance solutions at TransUnion. “As a result of the exacerbated financial impact of the pandemic, the industry will likely observe higher amounts of customers electing to go without insurance altogether or shopping for lower-cost insurance.”
Insurance shopping for higher-risk consumers decreased, impacted by COVID-19 financial hardship
Financial hardship resulting from COVID-19 challenges4 continues to significantly impact businesses and consumers nationwide and were also reflected in 2020 insurance shopping rates, particularly when looking at consumer risk. As observed for much of the first half of 2020,2 YoY rates of higher-risk auto insurance shoppers trended significantly below 2019 levels from July to December 2020, further underscoring that economic recovery continues to be a challenge for this group.
Rates for lower-risk auto insurance shoppers remained flat-to-slightly elevated during the same July-December 2020 time period, compared to 2019.
“COVID-19’s headwinds remain very real for American businesses and consumers, and we will continue tracking insurance shopping trends throughout 2021 in an effort to equip the industry with insights that can help enable trust with customers,” concluded Drotos.
TransUnion’s Insurance Shopping Snapshot Report will be shared on a quarterly basis to highlight changes to insurance shopping across market segments and geographies to provide insights that can help inform carriers’ acquisition and retention efforts. For additional insights into auto insurance shopping trends by region, customer risk and generation, the full report can be accessed here.
1 2020 Market Performance. Morningstar. January 5, 2021. https://www.morningstar.com/articles/1016670/2020-market-performance-in-7-charts
1 Global Consumer Confidence Survey. The Conference Board. January 12, 2021. https://conference-board.org/data/bcicountry.cfm?cid=15
1 COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution: The Process. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. https://www.hhs.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccines/distribution/index.html
1 January 2021 NADA Market Beat. NADA. https://www.nada.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=21474862658
2 June 2020 Insurance Shopping Snapshot Report. TransUnion. June 12, 2020. https://content.transunion.com/v/ins-shopping-june-snapshot-report.
3 Retail Sales: Used Car Dealers. Economic Research, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MRTSSM44112USN.
4 Consumer Financial Hardship Study. TransUnion. https://www.transunion.com/financial-hardship-study.
About TransUnion’s Insurance Shopping Snapshot Report
The quarterly Insurance Shopping Snapshot Report is based entirely on TransUnion’s internal studies. The auto insurance shopping trends reported are based on TransUnion’s report which is derived from TransUnion’s extensive database of credit data. It includes information on more than 500 million auto insurance shopping transactions from January 2016 to December 2020. The report focuses on the credit population, highlighting TransUnion’s data. It also explores a subset of the total insurance shopping population. The report excludes data from auto insurance customers in California, Hawaii and Massachusetts, where credit-based insurance scoring information is not used for auto insurance rating or underwriting.
About TransUnion (NYSE: TRU)
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