Insurance aggregator sites are a growing force within financial services.
This is according to www.hippo.co.za GM Amanda Thomas, who says: "Since the launch of www.hippo.co.za in 2007, which at the time was the country's first and only internet insurance aggregator site, a number of other price comparison sites have been born.
"Usage of these sites is really gaining momentum. They're a growing force and insurance companies vying for consumer attention in a highly-competitive market can't afford to ignore aggregator sites as a channel for marketing and selling insurance products," she says.
In the UK, insurance aggregators have grown considerably from a relatively slow start. In 2005, for instance, insurance aggregators grew faster than any other financial services category.
More recently, research by a UK-based market research company, Datamonitor, showed that almost 25% of all private motor insurance sold in 2007 was sold through an aggregator site, with about 30-million quotes generated in the process.
As an indication of what's happening in South Africa's fledgling aggregator market, Thomas says the number of quotes generated through www.hippo.co.za has jumped by over 25% in just a year.
It's estimated that, in the UK, around 80% of insurance is sold online. Thomas predicts that South Africa will soon match this.
"Aggregators are becoming increasingly significant as a purchasing channel for consumers and as a marketing and selling channel for insurers. We believe that aggregators, which make the process of sourcing and comparing online insurance quotes quicker and easier, will also play a key role in driving acceptance of the internet as a purchasing route and in increasing online insurance sales in South Africa, just as they have in the UK."