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Improving the Agent Experience: How Insurers Can Thrive

Highlights

  • Independent agents accounted for 50% of the life insurance individual market share in 2021.
  • Celent found that 76% of agents say they would send more business to carriers if they improved their technology and made working with them easier.

Many insurers are focused on improving the insurance customer experience, but what about the agent experience? Despite the rise of competing distribution channels, insurance agents remain an important revenue driver for most insurance organizations. Agents are more likely to bring customers to the carriers that make it easiest to do business – which is why focusing on the agency experience is crucial.

The Role of the Independent Agent

Digital tools have become important, but they have not replaced the need for the human touch. According to Accenture1, 49% of insurance consumers trust a human advisor when making a claim, compared to only 12% who trust an automated phone, web or email service and 7% who trust a chatbot.

Insurance can be complicated and stressful. Digital tools have facilitated easy self-service options, but many people still value human guidance and expertise.

According to the Insurance Information Institute2, independent agents accounted for 50% of the life insurance individual market share in 2021. This is actually an increase compared to 2012, when independent agents only accounted for 44% of the life insurance individual market share.

The insurance industry is changing in many ways, but one thing hasn’t changed. Insurance carriers still rely on insurance agents.

Agent Satisfaction Is Critical

Imagine you’re an independent agent representing a dozen different insurance carriers. Five of them provide digital tools that make quoting and binding policies easy. They also provide fast commission payments, and they are responsive whenever issues arise, although that rarely happens. The others still use outdated systems that require twice as much time to generate a quote or bind a policy. Commissions payments are sent by snail mail, and there are no service options after hours.

Would you keep selling policies from these carriers?

According to a 2021 Celent study3, insurance agents are experiencing a digital transformation of their own, and they expect insurers to support them. Within three years, agents expect many tasks to be handled digitally by preferred carriers. For example, 59% of agents expect to manage new business quoting for personal lines all or mostly digitally, and 61% expect to handle compensation and commissions all or mostly digitally.

Celent has also found that 76% of agents say they would send more business to carriers if they improved their technology and made working with them easier. The takeaway is clear. Agents expect insurers to improve their digital offerings, not just for customers, but for them, as well. Insurers that fail to do so risk losing business.

What Do Agents Want from Insurers?

Insurance carriers need to keep their independent agents satisfied. Right now, expectations are changing rapidly due to emerging technology, so this may take some effort. When progress moves fast, the ones who stay in place fall behind.

Just as insurers need to consider the policyholder’s point of view in order to improve the insurance customer experience, insurers should also consider the agent’s point of view when aiming to improve the agent experience.

Here are some things that insurers can do to benefit agents:

  • Modernize your distribution platforms.

    When you’re replacing your legacy policy and claims administration systems, don’t forget about your sales technology. Having an outdated and clunky system can make work tedious and time-consuming for agents. If agents have an easy time generating quotes and managing their books, they’ll be more inclined to want to represent your company.
  • Provide easy, 24/7 communication.

    There’s nothing more frustrating than having a problem or a question and not being able to reach anyone for help. Both your policyholders and your agents want convenient communication through their preferred communication channels. This may involve offering chatbots and self-service to address easy and common issues, and phone, email, and messaging options for challenges that require human support.
  • Help agents help their customers.

    To boost their retention levels and encourage referrals, agents need to keep their customers happy. Insurers can do their part by enabling easy claims reporting and management, premium payments, and policy servicing. A user-friendly policyholder app can help keep both policyholders and their agents satisfied.
  • Provide digital claim & commission payments.

    When people are waiting for money, they want it ASAP. This is true for policyholders waiting for a claims payout, and it’s also true for agents waiting for their commission payments. Fast claim and commission payments can go a long way in increasing customer and agent retention, generating new business, and improving overall satisfaction.

Moving Forward

Agents pay a key role in payment processing. One Inc’s payment solutions support better agent experiences, including the ability to pay agent commissions digitally via their preferred payment method. Learn more.

 

Sources: 

  1. https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insights/insurance/guide-insurance-customers-safety-well-being
  2. https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-distribution-channels
  3. https://www.celent.com/insights/945953888

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The One Inc Content Team strives to provide valuable insights about digital trends and payments innovation for the insurance community.