Speaking from our experience – and we’d be surprised if any other broker that supplies both personal and business insurance contradicts us – it is still much more likely that an individual would buy car/home insurance online but wouldn’t do the same with their business insurance.

So this begs the question – why is that?

Why would one individual sit at their PC in the evening and buy a car insurance policy without speaking to one individual throughout the entire process – but when their public and employers liability policy is due, they are likely to behave in a different way?

Before we continue, we do have small businesses that use our online business insurance quote and buy facility. They buy online and print off their documents without calling us.

However, the vast majority of businesses use the internet for business insurance research purposes only. They will either call us to obtain a quote, or use our quote engine to get an indicative price and then follow up with a conversation with one of our experts.

We believe there are 3 reasons for this:

1) Whether you’re a sole trader or a business employing people, the business owner / decision maker wants the reassurance of speaking to a professional to ensure the policy offers the protection he or she expects. Whilst in the current trading conditions the policy price must be competitive, business insurance is not as price driven as the personal insurance (car) market. What is more important to the business owner is that the business and employees are completely covered as ineffective cover – and a subsequent litigation case for example – could be enough to make the business insolvent.

2) Businesses – by and large – interact with other businesses. For example, they are selling products or service to other businesses or perhaps using suppliers. So there is a large amount of human interaction. So when it comes to buying insurance, businesses behave in a similar way.

3) The private car / home insurance comparision sites have multi million pound advertising budgets to raise awareness – plus they have been in existance longer than business insurance quote and buy sites so have much stronger search engine rankings.

So what does County Insurance predict in terms of the future of business insurance online transactions? We believe that sole traders and SME’s will show steady growth in terms of online transactions so brokers like ourselves must continue to offer and develop quote and buy business insurance websites.

This growth will not be as prolific as the personal insurance market, but it will happen as business owners become more comfortable with the concept of buying services online (compared to physical products).

For larger businesses with more complex insurance requirements, we can’t see circumstances any time soon whereby they would not require the personal service and expertise of a broker via an account handler/manager. More complex policies such as commercial combined insurance or package policies require an understanding of the clients business and risk exposure.

Relationships are a lot more important in this scenario, so the broker – client model is unlikely to change for many years to come.