Traditional insurers are losing market share to new entrants as around half of all products are now bought online by consumers looking for cheaper polices and more tailored services, PwC said yesterday.
In a survey of about 10,000 people across 16 countries, PwC found that many were willing to purchase insurance from new entrants such as internet search providers (18%), major retailers (18%) and online retailers (15%).
However, 71% of those surveyed said they used some form of digital research, like price comparison sites or social media before buying insurance.
Michael Spiteri, PwC digital insurance partner, said: 'Insurers cannot ignore new entrants such as search engines or online retailers.
'If traditional insurers fail to provide customers with what they want they will buy from the brands that they trust and which deliver the experience they demand.'
He added that when it came to buying general insurance consumers had the ability to access and compare information based on their own criteria, and as such many were now using this to get better deals.
The survey, Insurance 2020: the digital prize - taking customer connection to a new level, also shows that customers would hand over extra personal and lifestyle information in exchange for a better service.
Nearly two thirds (62%) would be prepared to have a sensor in their home or car, such as a behaviour-based motor insurance box that measures how well consumers drive and adjusts insurance premiums accordingly, with 37% willing to give additional information to help them reduce their premiums.
The PwC survey highlighted findings from 1,500 UK respondents who said online insurance providers offered a combination of price and a simple and tailored service.
Eighty-six per cent said they undertook some form of online research before buying an insurance policy, with 50% finally buying their ideal policy online - almost twice the 26% global average, found the survey.
The survey concluded that customers would still like the opportunity for personal interaction and a consistent experience, despite the move to digital.
PwC believes web chat, co-browsing and video chat provide ways to boost customers digital experience and help them get the policies they need.