Imagine explaining the concept of insurance to an alien. After the end of the elevator pitch, I guarantee they would think it was a pretty cool idea. At its heart, insurance is a simple and great concept: a product that protects people if something bad happens to them.
Executive SummaryAgentero CEO Luis Pino describes how data and technology make the agent distribution channel more efficient.
Then how did the industry get such a bad reputation?
There’s So Much Waste
Take that same alien through the actual process of buying insurance, and you’ll see a different perspective. Why? Because of the waste. Time is wasted filling out forms and processing paper. Money is wasted partnering with agencies that give the carrier small amounts of business.
The agent distribution channel is vital for carriers. It is the main artery for insurance sales. But there are big inefficiencies impacting all the major players involved, including carriers, agents and consumers.
For carriers, money and time are involved in onboarding new agencies, but many might not end up writing policies for that carrier. There are no standard procedures to ensure that agents will begin selling products once they’re appointed. If an insurer changes its pricing or underwriting criteria and becomes competitive in a certain insurance category, this doesn’t become widely known to agents or translate to more sales.
For agents, every time a new carrier enters the market or offers a new product, they have to learn the ins and outs to sell it effectively. This is a Herculean task when many agents are already stretched thin with demanding workloads.
For consumers, buying a policy is still a hassle. No one wakes up in the morning looking forward to insurance shopping. Traditionally, very little attention has been paid to the buying experience, so most prospects’ purchasing journeys involve complex forms, paperwork and awkwardly worded questions that make them wonder if they are giving the right answers.
But technology and better use of data can make the channel more efficient. Software solutions make it easier to alert agents to new products and easily integrate them into current workflows. Data analytics eliminates the need for agents to acquire mountains of information from customers to return a quote.
Taking Full Advantage of Technology
The first step in any process is to look at the insurance application as if you were a customer. Turn the application inside out, if you will. Many carriers prioritized reducing risk and focused less on the customer experience when developing applications. Utilizing technology and data, carriers can innovate at the point of sale without changing any of their information needs for underwriting. This reduces the burden on customers and enables a better buying experience through the agent.
Carriers should re-evaluate their platforms and build processes that tap into data to limit the information customers need to provide. For example, some digital carriers enable agents to return quotes after submitting just three pieces of information. They don’t use less information to provide a quote but have platforms that pull the additional information needed from readily available sources.
Building Muscle Memory
It’s also critical that carriers and their products become known to agents. They have to work to build agents’ muscle memories. Typically, carriers have expansive agent networks but little control over whether or not the agencies write business with them. Agents don’t have time to research each carrier’s products. For each insurance scenario, agents typically have two or three insurers they turn to.
Technologies created to streamline agents’ workflows also have added benefits for carriers—they help get the carriers in front of agents. By partnering with these solutions and being featured on the platforms, they enhance their agency network. After the agent inputs all of the customer’s information, these tools use data to identify all the best carriers and products—even if the agent didn’t have them in mind for a certain policy. This enables agents to become familiar with new carriers and products. Once agents write a policy or sell a new product several times, it then becomes part of their muscle memory for a particular situation.
The capabilities exist for carriers to remove the inefficiencies of the agent distribution channel. They just need to take advantage. Utilizing data to improve agents’ processes will improve the purchasing experience for customers and ultimately translate into more policies for carriers. With streamlined processes, insurance can overcome its bad reputation and be known for its promise: protecting people in times of need.