There's been a lot of buzz about insurtech and the effect these startups can and are having on the insurance industry. ITC President Laird Rixford talks about this movement and what you can do to stay relevant and compete in this changing landscape.
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It’s not a matter of IF insurtech companies can figure out how to provide the same level of value as the independent agents does. It’s a matter of WHEN. Here’s what I think agents should be doing to grow in spite of the large investments that are happening in insurtech.
Last year there was a lot of growth in investments in insurtech. Billions of dollars in investments went into insurtech companies. According to a report by KPMG, that interest will remain hot in 2017.
Some companies are specializing in individual parts of the insurance process, like distribution, underwriting, claims and customer service. Some are doing it all.
Some are providing multiple lines of business. Some are providing niche insurance offerings.
Last year the inaugural InsureTech Connect conference highlighted this movement and really showed the competition that independent agents are facing.
Interestingly, we saw different organizations at the conference. But there was one type that was notably absent: you, the agents.
The conversation covered the broad spectrum of insurance and included every line of business. The majority of breakouts focused on technology and automating the agent of tomorrow. As in, replacing the agent of today. Replacing you.
Insurtech investors and startups see the independent agent channel as antiquated and not great at attracting and serving modern consumers. But they also recognize the hard work involved.
It’s not a matter of IF one of these big-eyed dreamer startups will figure out how to provide value at the level you do. It’s a matter of WHEN.
Are you paying attention?
It would be a mistake to ignore what is happening in the industry. These insurtech startups are coming. Many of them will fail. Just look at Google Compare. But it only takes one to succeed and have a major impact on you.
This is your industry. These are your clients. You have survived many obstacles that were meant to be your end. Like direct writers and the internet.
I don’t think insurance agents will go the way of travel agents. Selling insurance is not the same as selling a plane ticket. It’s a much more complicated product that most consumers don’t understand.
You can survive the next challenge and grow your business. But it takes more than optimism. You need to pay attention and adjust to meet consumer expectations and demands.
Because if you don’t, you’re handing them the opportunity.
A large percentage of insurance shoppers prefer to buy from an agent rather than online. But don’t assume that number won’t change.
The days when a good location with good signage bringing you great, steady flow of leads are past. It’s time to get motivated. It’s time for the real work to begin. Here’s what you can do to stay relevant and compete in today’s market.
Number 1… Start paying attention to what’s happening. Read trade publications, newsletters and blogs. Become a student of insurtech entrepreneurs and other successful agents. What are they doing that you could do? Join in the conversations that are steadily taking place.
Two… Reassess the technology you’re using, including your insurance agency software, computer and phones. Are you using the right technology? Are you using your comparative rater or agency management system to its fullest potential?
Three… Evaluate your processes. How easy is it for a consumer to buy from you? What is it like once they’re a customer?
Four… Review your insurance agency website. Is the design updated and fresh? Or does it look old and dated? Is the content high quality and helpful to visitors? Or are you burying the helpful information below two or three clicks later. Are you providing customer service on your website with service and claims forms?
Five… Get serious about marketing your agency. Get help if you need it.
Six… Look at your sales. Are you selling on price or value? Do you have a formal, written down process? Are you holding your producers accountable?
Finally… Go beyond continuing education. Learn everything you can on technology, marketing and sales. Study best practices in management. In this case, what you don’t know can hurt you. There are resources out there available to you that offer this type of information... Webinars, conferences, local groups, blogs, and even podcasts.
You’re not alone. We’re all in this together.
Are you ready?
About the Author
As vice president of marketing, Becky Schroeder oversees ITC’s growth through marketing and drives the overall marketing strategy for the company and its products. Her specialties include advertising, social media, email marketing, content marketing and public relations. Becky has a master’s degree in integrated marketing communication from Emerson College in Boston and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas A&M University. Becky is a big Texas A&M football fan and enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with her husband and their two daughters.Follow on Twitter More Content by Becky Schroeder