ASIC targets insurance websites

ASICIt has been reported today that Insure 247 were rapped over the knuckles by ASIC over their online marketing of insurance.

In a statement released by ASIC it was revealed that four of the websites operated by Insure 247 were believed to contain “misleading or deceptive advertising”.

That’s a pretty serious allegation, but it appears that the parties involved have been able to make the necessary changes to the websites without too much drama.

There were two main issues involved.

Misleading text

The statement from ASIC shows that they had serious concerns with some of the text used on the websites:

“ASIC was concerned the websites gave the impression consumers were accessing an online tool which compared the features and the cost of different insurance products. ASIC’s review found there was no evaluation or comparison of the products.”

One such example was the text “compare thousands of insurances from fifty different insurers”, but upon investigation there was no such comparison offered.

In my opinion this was probably just a copywriter getting a little over excited, but the fact is you simply cannot make claims on an insurance related website unless they are factual.

Insure 247 are not alone however, as over the years I’ve seen plenty of misleading text on insurance related websites.

I don’t think there is a deliberate intention to mislead people in most cases, but if someone can be misled then it doesn’t really matter whether it was deliberate or not.

Insurance company logos

The second issue was the use of insurance company logos, which ASIC made the following comments about:

“Further, ASIC found Insure 247 displayed the logos of insurance providers that were not offering quotes for the product featured on that page of the website. For some insurance products, only one insurance provider received consumer details through the website when consumers were likely to think their details would be passed on to many insurers.”

Using the logos of the big insurance companies is a great way to build some credibility for a financial adviser or insurance broker’s website.

There is nothing wrong with doing so, and I even have a selection of logos on my own firm’s website, but don’t go displaying logos of insurance companies if you don’t use them!

It’s fair enough for a consumer to expect that if they see certain logos on your website then you’ll be using or at least comparing the products offered by those insurers.

The lesson here for website owners, regardless of whether you’re an AFSL holder, an authorised representative or just an online marketer, is that you need to make sure your website does not have the potential to mislead or deceive.

Lifebroker sold to TAL

lifebrokerOne of Australia’s biggest online life insurance providers has been acquired by TAL.

Lifebroker was founded in 2004 and has grown to be one of the top two largest online providers of life insurance.

TAL has owned a 10% stake in the business for the last three years, and this week moved to full ownership of the business.

Of most interest to me was the amount paid for the remaining 90%, but sadly the purchase price has not been released.

What we do know is that TAL’s parent company, The Dai-ichi Life Company, valued Lifebroker at $28 million in June this year.

Presumably the existing owners would have sought a premium in return for relinquishing their entire shareholding, in which case it would be safe to assume that the final valuation was somewhere in excess of $30 million.

That’s a hefty chunk of money in anyone’s language, and it shows the level of confidence that TAL has in the continued growth of online life insurance.

Unfortunately it also shows how focused TAL is on the direct insurance market, which in my opinion could lead to more Australians taking the DIY approach instead of seeking professional advice.

In case you didn’t know, TAL also owns the InsuranceLine brand which is heavily promoted on television.

What is Lifebroker?

So what exactly has TAL bought themselves?

Lifebroker is a website that allows consumers to compare premiums for life insurance from a range of insurance providers.

In addition to life insurance, consumers can also access trauma, TPD, income protection, mortgage protection and funeral insurance.

Lifebroker compares policies from a range of insurers including AIA, AMP, Asteron, BT, Comminsure, Macquarie, MLC, OnePath, Zurich and of course TAL.

It’s not clear whether or not Lifebroker will continue offering non-TAL products, but based on comments from TAL’s CEO, Brett Clark, it would appear that they will:

“Lifebroker has built a reputation on the objective comparison on life insurance products from a range of different life insurers.”

“We strongly support consumer choice and a competitive life insurance market.”

That’s good news in my opinion, because the last thing we need is another so-called comparison website which only compares products from a single insurer.

Personally I still believe there is a big conflict of interest in an insurance company owning a comparison website.

Hopefully TAL does the right thing and makes very clear disclosures on the Lifebroker website rather than burying it in the FSG.

Provided that they do that, then good luck to them and I take my hat off to TAL for investing in online assets whilst the others are left behind.

Another six figure finance domain name sale

carsalesThis week we received news of yet another six figure sale for a finance related domain name.

The domain in question is carloan.com.au, and whilst it may not be insurance related, it’s still worth looking at.

James Wester brokered the sale of the domain on behalf of previous owner OMG, which is a wholly owned subsiduary of Fairfax Media.

The buyer was CarSales.com Limited, the owner of Australia’s leading online car sales portal of the same name.

Whilst the parties would not reveal the exact price, Wester advised that it was in excess of $200,000.  This would make it the largest domain name sale in Australia for 2013.

Seeing CarSales as the buyer was certainly not a surprise to many people in the online marketing industry, as they have been prolific buyers of automotive related domain names over the last few years.

This sale certainly shows the value in generic finance domain names, and it will be interesting to see if CarSales simply parks the domain (excuse the pun) or builds it into a new car loan service.

Insurance domain name sales

Whilst many insurance companies and brokerages market themselves online under their own brand name, many choose to build websites under generic names also.

There are numerous reasons for this, but generally these companies are looking to build satellite websites that target particular niches, with the idea that they will funnel prospects or leads back to their main website.

What do I mean by a generic name?  Generally they are based around a product or a service, as opposed to  a brand name.

Examples could include ‘carinsurance.com.au’ or ‘insurancebroker.com.au’ etc.

There’s no question that this strategy that has worked well for some people, but if you think that getting your hands on such a domain name will be easy, think again!

We’ve used sales data from Netfleet, one of Australia’s largest domain name markets, to show just how much you’d need to spend to get yourself a premium generic insurance domain name.

Here are the top 15 insurance domain names sales from 2009 onwards:

  1. $30,001 – carinsurance.net.au (2012)
  2. $16,223 – petinsurance.com.au (2011)
  3. $12,001 – lifeinsurancecomparison.com.au (2011)
  4. $10,052 – homeinsurance.net.au (2012)
  5. $5,568 – doginsurance.com.au (2012)
  6. $5,152 – funeralinsurance.net.au (2011)
  7. $4,801 – cheap-travel-insurance.com.au (2011)
  8. $4,500 – lifeinsurancequotes.com.au (2009)
  9. $3,568 – catinsurance.com.au (2012)
  10. $3,001 – lifeinsurancecomparisons.com.au (2011)
  11. $3,000 – homeinsurancecomparison.com.au (2010)
  12. $2,778 – boatinsurance.net.au (2012)
  13. $2,501 – incomeinsuranceaustralia.com.au (2012)
  14. $2,501 – marineinsurance.com.au (2012)
  15. $2,042 – lifeinsurancequotesaustralia.com.au (2012)

Do these domain names represent a waste of money, or a fantastic opportunity?  It really depends on what you do with them.

Who owns the big insurance domains?

Regular readers will know how valuable generic domain names can be in the insurance sector.

Super premium domains in the finance sector have sold for six figures in the past, and we decided to have a look at who owns the super premium insurance domains and what they’re doing with them.

For each domain we have used the whois records to reveal the owner and have also looked at how the domain is being utilised.

We’ve also provided valuations on each domain name with assistance from some of the experts at DNtrade.  The valuations are based on the domain name only, and not the associated website.

Insurance.com.au

insurance.com.au

Owner:  Insurance Consulting Services Pty Ltd

Value:  $200,000 – $250,000

Usage:  Stand-alone website which offers quotes for life insurance products and referrals for general insurance products.

Comments:  The most generic of all insurance domains is surprisingly not owned by one of the major insurers, and is instead owned by a financial planning company.  It’s not a bad looking website, but is fairly light on information.

LifeInsurance.com.au

lifeinsurance.com.au

Owner:  iSelect

Value:  $150,000 – $250,000

Usage:  Redirects to the life insurance page on the main iSelect website.

Comments:  With online life insurance being a red-hot sector, this would be one of the most sought after domain names out there.  By using the domain as a redirect iSelect would not be getting an major SEO benefit, but given that they already rank number 1 in Google for ‘life insurance’ I don’t think they’ll be too concerned.

CarInsurance.com.au

carinsurance.com.au

Owner:  Luke Donnelley

Value:  $150,000 – $200,000

Usage:  A very basic one page website with no ability to request a quote or contact them.

Comments:  It’s almost unbelievable that such a premium domain has remained in private hands and is still so underutilised.  No doubt the owner is fully aware of its value and has received countless offers over the years.

HomeInsurance.com.au

homeinsurance.com.au

Owner:  REA (realestate.com.au)

Value:  $30,000 – $50,000

Usage:  Redirects to the realestate.com.au website.

Comments:  It’s not a huge surprise to see this domain used by the owners of realestate.com.au, but it is surprising to see that it is very underutilised.  There is an insurance section on the website, but this domain does not redirect to that area.  I should add that I believe ‘realestate.com.au’ is the best use of ANY premium generic domain name in Australia.

IncomeProtection.com.au

incomeprotection.com.au

Owner:  Income Protection Pty Ltd

Value:  $50,000 – $100,000

Usage:  Main website for the business of the same name.

Comments:  Out of all the premium insurance domains, this would be the best utilised.  In this case an entire business has been built around the domain name, and having met the original owner who started the business around 15 years ago, it has been quite successful.

TPDInsurance.com.au

tpdinsurance.com.au

Owner:  iSelect

Value:  $5,000 – $10,000

Usage:  None.

Comments:  This is the second entry for iSelect, but unlike lifeinsurance.com.au which redirects to the relevant page of the iSelect website, tpdinsurance.com.au simply returns an error message.  This certainly seems to be a lost oportunity, however iSelect already rank #2 for the term in Google and would probably get limited benefit from using this domain any differently.

TraumaInsurance.com.au

traumainsurance.com.au

Owner:  iSelect

Value:  $5,000 – $10,000

Usage:  None.

Comments:  iSelect have scooped the trifecta with lifeinsurance.com.au, tpdinsurance.com.au and traumainsurance.com.au.  Unfortunately this one also returns a nil result, but iSelect won’t be too upset since they also rank #1 for this term.

IncomeProtectionInsurance.com.au

incomeprotectioninsurance.com.au

Owner:  iSelect

Value:  $20,000 – $50,000

Usage:  None.

Comments:  Ordinarily a domain name with three words would no be considered as ‘super premium, but this particular domain would be one of the rare exceptions.  Unsurprisingly this domain is also owned by iSelect, and as with their TPD and trauma domains it simply returns an error message when you attempt to visit the site.

TravelInsurance.com.au

travelinsurance.com.au

Owner:  TIOTN Pty Ltd

Value:  $150,000 – $250,000

Usage:  Travel insurance business of the same name.

Comments:  Finally we have a second premium domain name which is being properly utilised.  Travelinsurance.com.au is a fully branded website offering travel insurance as a fully fledged business.  Unfortunately for the owners of this website it does not rank very well in Google at all, which is a little unusual for a well used premium domain.

BusinessInsurance.com.au

businessinsurance.com.au

Owner:  H and N (Nominees) Pty Limited

Value:  $20,000 – $50,000

Usage:  Insurance brokerage of the same name.

Comments:  The last domain we’ll look at is businessinsurance.com.au, and it’s pleasing to see that this is another very well utilised domain.  The website is owned by an AFSL holder and contains plenty of great information about business insurance and about their company.

Small Business v Big Business

It’s interesting to see that other than those owned by iSelect and REA, many of the super premium domain names are not owned by big corporates.

It’s also clear that the smaller sized owners are utilising their domains in a far better fashion than the big corporates.

The reason for this may be that the big corporates can afford to buy up valuable domains and sit on them, whilst smaller businesses really need to generate a return on what will have been a fairly large investment in most cases.

iSelect

Going back to iSelect, they own four of the best insurance domains available, being lifeinsurance.com.au, tpdinsurance.com.au, traumainsurance.com.au and incomeprotectioninsurance.com.au.

These four domains have a combined value of anywhere between $200,000 and $400,000 depending on who you ask, and potentially even up to one million dollars.

But each of the domains are completely underutilised, and there is probably little need for iSelect to develop the domains since they already rank #1 or #2 in Google for each term.

So why would they spend up big on buying them?  One possible reason is to simply stop anyone else from getting them and doing something more substantial with the domains which could compete with iSelect’s main website.

To Be Continued

In part 2 of this article we will be asking some of the owners of these websites why they decided to invest in a premium domain name.

We hope to get some interesting answers to share over the next few months.

Change of Direction…

In the past this website was all about the services that I provided to financial advisers, insurance brokers and online publishers in the insurance space.

But I don’t really write much content for others now (basically none) so it’s time to change direction…

Whilst I don’t write for others, I’m writing more than ever for my own company’s portfolio of websites, and I’m pleased to say that they’re going quite well.

So the new direction for this little blog of mine is to start sharing my views on insurance advice in the online world, along with reporting any news that I come across from around the place.

It’s certainly no secret that the internet is continuing to change the way that people search for personal and business insurance, and for those businesses that make the right decisions now I believe there will be major rewards in the not-to-distant future.

Stay tuned…

Access WHM cPanel from WiFi

This blog entry will probably be of little interest to my regular readers, but I had plenty of trouble finding this information for myself, so I feel the need to share!

I am writing this from Paris where I am enjoying a holiday with my wife.  Whilst not a working holiday, I do have to keep fresh content on my websites to ensure those Google rankings stay strong during my six week absence.

I’m using wifi wherever I can whilst overseas, which is fine for everything else, but when I tried to upload some new content via my FTP program I couldn’t get in.  I tried instead to use the File Manager function through my WHM (web host manager) but that wouldn’t let me in either.

The thought of not being able to update my websites for six weeks almost made me sick!  This wouldn’t be a problem if I used WordPress for all my sites, but for various reasons I don’t for my main business sites.

So anyway I searched and searched for a workaround and couldn’t find a solution, but finally I came across a gold nugget which saved the day!

If you are trying to access WHM from a wifi or other network which won’t allow access to the required port, simply use the following link as a workaround:

http://whm.yourdomain.com

It’s as easy as that!  From here you can access the cPanel for each domain you have hosted within your WHM.

This is instead of the usual IP address based URL which would look something like 123.456.789:2086

So disaster averted and I once again have access to upload new content to my non-Wordpress websites.

For more information on accessing WHM from an overseas or wifi network please visit the original page (link here) that saved me.

Finance domain sales in the media

I’ve just been reading through some old magazines which have been sitting on my desk for a few months and came across this little item in the June issue of The Adviser

homeloan.com.au sale

The article doesn’t mention the prices paid, but we know that homeloan.com.au was purchased for $100,000+ and homeloancalculator.com.au was purchased for $33,001.

Previously it was only known that homeloan.com.au sold for somewhere in excess of $100k, but given that this latest article talks about “hundreds of thousands of dollars” we can probably assume that the $100k figure was very conservative.

Whilst I’d hardly call The Adviser a mainstream publication (I’m probably the only non-mortgage broker who reads it!) it is still good to see domain name sales getting attention outside of the domaining industry.

I realise that these two domains have limited relevance to insurance, but with them still being in the overall finance industry it does show what a super-premium insurance domain name could potentially be worth.

Don’t Lose Your Domains!

Every day there are hundreds of domain names which expire and are sold to the highest bidder at auction.

Many of these domains are deliberately left to expire, but unfortunately for the owners, sometimes the domains have unknowingly expired.

It can happen to anyone – even me!

Believe it or not, this almost happened to me today.

One of my content clients called me to let me know that my website (shanemoore.com.au) was down.  I found this a little strange since I knew that other websites of mine on the same server were working fine, so the first thing I did was a whois search on the domain.

The result shocked me, as I saw that the domain had expired four days prior!

Thankfully domain owners are given around two months grace on their domains, so I was able to pay the renewal and fix the problem instantly.

How did it happen?

It happened in the same way that it happens to most other people.  I had an old email address listed as the contact for the domain name, and therefore I never received the renewal notice.

Prevention

The easiest way to avoid this problem is to ensure that the email address listed on each of your domains is current and actively checked.

It is also important to use a generic company email address rather than an individual employee’s address.  Many companies have lost domains as the email address used for the domain was for a person who has since left the company.  The email address is either cancelled or no longer checked, and therefore no one in the company gets the renewal, leading to the domain expiring and being lost.

Famous examples

I couldn’t finish this article without mentioning a couple of well known examples within the domain owners community.

One of the best stories is that of hardware.com.au.  This fantastic domain was owned by Bunnings, however they let it expire and it was subsequently snapped up by bitter rival Masters for just over $30,000.

This was an example of the email address being that of a former employee.

Another great example was investmentproperty.com.au.  This domain was allowed to expire by it’s previous owner, and was snapped up by an astute buyer for a massive $125,000.  Losing a six figure asset due to a missed renewal is not good!

Tips

Register your domains using an email address which you know will be available and monitored regardless of staff movements, and check your valuable domains from time to time to ensure that they are still active and have the correct contact details.