Less than a third of people trust insurance providers with numbers proving hard to improve.
Of those surveyed, 27% trust insurance providers and just 6% trust them more than a year ago, research for PwC has found.
The majority say they would not take advice from providers of health or life insurance, and that to regain consumer trust would need new levels of openness.
Higher data security was seen as a way for insurers to build higher trust levels among consumers and offer a way to resist new entrants.
Lee Clarke, insurance risk and regulatory partner at PwC, commented:
"Many customer-focused insurance providers will feel that this perception is unfair. Nonetheless, tackling this lack of trust must now be an over-riding priority. Those who don't change now, and those who don't make the right changes, risk going further down the road where the people they are trying to reach have stopped listening and will only pay attention again when something genuinely different comes along."
Clarke added: "The lack of trust in insurance providers partly reflects a failure to articulate the value they are offering, leading to suspicions that their overwhelming priority is to make short term profits. Providers must find new ways to explain the services they are providing, encourage consumers to voice their goals, priorities and expectations, and to respond to these.
"Insurers are starting to ask their customers to publically review and share their experience of the company, whether good or bad, online - much as the travel industry has been doing for years. This openness can substantially improve company approval ratings with customers.
"Taking genuine and conspicuous steps to satisfy customer goals, priorities and expectations, especially where there is no obvious short term gain - or even a clear cost - to the provider, is a response we're starting to see more of."
Jonathan Howe, insurance leader at PwC, said: "Ultimately, this all translates to the quality and resilience of insurance provider brands, not in the sense of logos and colour schemes, but in the sense of the expectations that exist in the minds of customers and other stakeholders of consistent, superior service provision.
"With the traditional barriers to entry becoming eroded - or becoming harder and more costly to sustain - brand is becoming the critical strategic asset of the future, and companies must therefore rediscover their mojo with customers to stand out for the right reasons."
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