Stop Being an Intermediary

March 25, 2015 Laird Rixford

A few weeks ago I attended LeadsCon in Las Vegas. LeadsCon is a convention for lead sellers and buyers. They came from various industries, including mortgage, cash checking, education, and insurance. However, insurance was the hot topic of the show. Many sessions talked about the how the industry is changing. They often referenced the travel industry as the corollary of where our industry is going.

The majority of these talks included 'getting rid of the intermediary.' You know what that word intermediary means? It means you, dear independent insurance agent. Every speaker refused to use the word agent or agency. Instead, they depersonalized your role in providing insurance.

The majority of discussions at LeadsCon included people and services that generate leads they then sell to direct writers. But, there were also traditional carriers that currently service the independent insurance industry. Quite a few of them are starting to take a serious look at going direct themselves. This is evident when you look at the ever expanding panel of carriers available on online insurance sellers.

Why is this happening?

Agents are lead generators for carriers. That is what you do. Unless you sell your own insurance product exclusively (thus making you a carrier), you are selling someone else's product. After you sell their product, they will continue to service that policy for life. Sure the insured might call you to start the claim. However, from that point forward the carrier handles it because it is their product. Since they handle a majority of the client's policy lifecycle, they figure they can save money by cutting you out of the process. When they work with lead providers to fill their pipeline, these online websites are fulfilling the hard part of your job. Generating the inbound leads. The people wanting to get rid of the intermediary do not have to be agents. They just have to be good at marketing.

Make a change

Stop being just a lead generator for the carriers. Offer your clients more than a quote and a hand off to a carrier. Next, develop a relationship with your carriers. Remember you are generating leads for them. What are they doing to help you generate more?

How technology can help

You can also use technology to not just compete with online lead generators but also succeed and grow. Build yourself a world classinsurance website. Put a consumer driven online consumer rater on that website. Connect both to an online agency marketing engine that includes email, social media, and text messaging. Using all those technologies, you must build an experience that is beyond being a lead generator. Your insurance agency website can offer the same features as the online lead generators. But, you have something they don't... a local and personal touch.

Finally, I am an advocate for the independent agent. I do not think the insurance industry and its agents are anything like a travel agent. You have ongoing education and training requirements to maintain your license. So, you offer more than a recommended hotel in Barbados. You offer sound advice to secure the future of your clients.

Go beyond the regular required continuing education courses. Learn how to market and grow your agency in this evolving world. Join us at ITC Agent Conference next month.

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About the Author

Laird Rixford

As CEO, Laird Rixford is responsible for providing strategic direction and leadership for the company. Rixford has a proven executive management track record and has more than 20 years of experience in entrepreneurship and insurance technology. An expert in insurance technology and marketing, Laird is a recognized public speaker and has presented at industry events across the United States.

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