Insurance agents are facing increased pressure from their clients to find new and broader ways to protect their assets through the ongoing pandemic, a Nationwide survey concludes.
Clients want agents to counsel them on far more topics than in previous years. With that in mind, Nationwide said that agents can retain those clients and attract new ones in the current pandemic environment by using more digital tools.
“Today’s insurance agent must balance both the growing needs of existing clients and the needs of prospective clients whose preferences are shifting toward digital offerings that provide easy, timely access to insurance help when needed,” Peter McMurtrie, president of P&C Commercial Lines at Nationwide, said in prepared remarks. “Our survey results show that while agents’ influence with their customers is growing, it’s critical for them to leverage new ways to advise clients virtually and in-person as well as sharpen their knowledge about complementary protection solutions clients may benefit from.”
The survey found middle market owners and small business owners increased their interest by high single digits and double digits in employee benefits, retirement, cybersecurity and banking.
Underscoring the need for agents to adapt during the pandemic, 34 percent of consumers plan to move from their current location in the next five years, with 25 percent of that number blaming the pandemic for the decision. As well, at least 1 in 5 business owners plan to reduce, move or eliminate offices in the next five years. With that in mind, 77 percent of middle market owners are three times more likely than small business owners to say the pandemic influenced their plans, the survey found.
Seeing this change, 47 percent of agents said they’re worried about their ability to retain clients who relocate. About 61 percent said they will invest either heavily or moderately to attract, keep and grow relationships with clients outside their current geographies, Nationwide said.
Nationwide conducted its study via Edelman Data & Intelligence, which enacted a 20-minute quantitative online survey with a sample of 2,800 U.S. independent agents, small business and middle-market owners, African American business owners, Hispanic business owners and general consumers. This took place between June 22 and July 7, 2021.