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Insurance comparators: behind the scenes

Insurance comparators are said to be behind 5% to 10% of the flow of new business for pure players and online brokers. Nevertheless, their weight in the insurance market remains difficult to measure as little data is available.

Insurance comparators: behind the scenes

30% of quotes issued through comparators

Comparators mainly propose personal risk and general insurance offers, although life insurance is gradually beginning to make its appearance on comparison sites. Among the players present, LeLynx.fr (French subsidiary of British group Confused.com) and LesFurets.com (subsidiary of British group BGL) have established themselves as the insurance comparators that are best known to the general public thanks to a very strong presence in the traditional media and online (social media). They are picking up an ever-bigger share of the insurance comparison business.

A few other players created more recently have also seen very rapid growth. Pixeo, publisher of Lecomparateurassurance.com, saw its turnover multiplied by 15 between its first year of business 2011 and 2015. Acommeassure.com (subsidiary of the Ouest-France press group, published by the company Média Courage) has announced a growth rate of about 80% for the year 2015.

Faced with the know-how and marketing budgets of these leaders, independent players struggle to keep their heads above water and are gradually vanishing. At the same time, historic players like Assurland.com, Mutuelle-conseil.com or Kelassur.com have also been losing ground.

At the end of 2013 the CCSF (Financial Sector Advisory Committee) asked comparators to present the price schedules, cover and services proposed by the insurers in a more comprehensible way, illustrating them where possible with examples and amounts. So far, only a handful of comparators seem to have followed these recommendations.  

What are the methods of remuneration?  

The comparators' business model rests, firstly, on being free of charge for the (private or professional) user and, secondly, on remuneration by partners (insurers or brokers).
There are two payment models:
- PPC (pay per click): the comparator is paid for each click, whether or not it leads to a policy being taken out;
- PPA (pay per acquisition): the comparator is paid for each policy taken out by a web user it has put in contact with the insurer or broker (new business). PPA is substantially higher than PPC.

Faced with increasingly tough competition on certain segments, insurers have intensified the pressure on comparator remuneration, encouraging the PPA system which is less favourable to the comparators, although most of those launched recently have adopted formulas including PPA.

After registering a strong increase in traffic between 2012 and 2015, online insurance comparators should continue to experience dynamic growth over the next few years. According to Xerfi, insurance comparator turnover is expected to grow by 2 to 3% a year between 2016 and 2020. The insurance comparison market will therefore remain buoyant through to 2020.

What is the insurers' position regarding comparators? We will have the opportunity of returning to the issue of the relationship between insurers and the comparators in a future issue. 

*"Les comparateurs dans l'assurance, analyse du marché et perspectives à horizon 2020 : paysage concurrentiel et stratégies à l'oeuvre", Xerfi study, January 2016.

Sources: Crédit Agricole Assurances Strategic Monitoring Department; L’Argus de l’Assurance no. 744; "Les comparateurs dans l’assurance", Xerfi study, January 2016; "Plus de transparence chez les comparateurs d’assurance dès le 1er juillet 2016", Assurances des Particuliers, June 2016; Semrush.com, OpinionWay survey for Choisir.com (October-November 2014), Optimind Winter (2015), Weave survey (December 2014) 

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