A majority of independent insurance agents (53 percent) are expecting a significant increase in online commercial insurance buyers over the next three years, according to a survey from Semsee, a platform for small commercial quoting, and TrustedChoice.com, a digital marketing platform for independent agents and brokers.
The new study of independent agents focused on the ways agents find and win new commercial insurance business.
Overall, 42 percent of agents surveyed say they are seeing an increase in commercial opportunities since the start of the pandemic in early 2020. And while the survey found that agents are generally pleased with the marketing and sales technologies they’re using today, many recognize they need to make significant improvements to become even more digital. Search Engine Optimization (SEO), new and faster ways to assess insurer appetite, and efficiently obtaining quotes from multiple carriers were all cited as areas needing the most improvement.
“The survey shows that agents have clearly become more digital in the last two years, especially in terms of leveraging virtual communications technologies like videoconferencing and e-signature tools, which is a testament to the adaptability of the IA channel,” said Chip Bacciocco, CEO, TrustedChoice.com. “And when it comes to sales and marketing, there are still opportunities to expand what they’re doing, both in terms of finding new business opportunities and efficiently closing those deals.”
“Winning and placing new business is a particular challenge for agencies that offer commercial. Business leaders have told us that they want to see multiple policy options from agents. Yet finding markets and getting quotes can be such a time-consuming process for agents. Three-quarters of agents told us they’re using online portals to get this information, meaning they’re entering data multiple times,” said Philip Charles-Pierre, CEO, Semsee. “Many agents said they also rely on experience with specific carriers to place business today, a process that is not likely to work well in the future as insurance products change and they target new markets.”
Room for Improvement
More than half—60 percent—of agents rate their digital customer-facing capabilities as “good” or “excellent” today. They are slightly less enthusiastic when it comes to carriers’ agent-facing technologies, with 47 percent rating them “good,” 35 percent “average” and just 6 percent “excellent.” Agents cite lack of consistency from portal to portal, limited interaction with underwriters, and no up-front indications about whether or not the carriers will accept new business as the biggest concerns.
One opportunity for finding new business is SEO. The survey found that 49 percent currently use SEO but that agencies’ SEO understanding and lack of time for planning remain challenging. The majority of respondents don’t have an SEO strategy or are not sure whether they have one.
When it comes to winning and placing insurance business, 56 percent of agents say they are challenged to find a market that matches the need, and 52 percent explain that getting quotes from carriers, MGAs and wholesalers is a barrier to getting new business.