More than 15 years ago, the Internet was going to transform the insurance industry. It was going to allow all carriers to become direct writers. It was going to eliminate independent agents. The transformation was imminent, and up to now, it had not happened.
Then in 2015, a new name to the industry emerged... Google.
Google Compare was not the first company to make serious headway into the online space. But, it was the name that signified a change in the accepted status quo the industry has enjoyed thus far. Many in the industry are calling Google a disruptor.
Disruption is the buzzword of 2010s. It describes companies like Amazon, Netflix and Uber. These are companies that entered existing industries and introduced new, groundbreaking ways to operate.
Amazon transformed shopping. Netflix changed the way we watch TV and movies. Uber reset the idea of how private transportation services operate.
Google - and others including Wal-Mart via AutoInsurance.com, Compare.com, CoverHound, Insurify, The Zebra, and any other upcoming entrants - are not the threat people make them out to be.
They are not the disruptors. They are just following the real disruptors, today's modern consumer.
The True Disruptors
Disruption in other industries provided consumers with instant gratification through the use of technology. This disruption has affected the insurance industry through the consumer. Insurance shoppers now demand the same service and satisfaction when buying insurance.
This is what the 'insurance disruptors' are really doing. They're not disrupting the industry. They are simply meeting the needs and wants of your prospects and clients.
Outside of more players, the industry operates the same way it has been for the past 15 years.
Consumers receive comparative quotes online from agencies, carriers and online lead aggregators. They can even purchase policies online immediately. The policies themselves are still matched to the consumer's coverage needs by an agent. The risks are underwritten. The policy and claims are still serviced by an insurance carrier. All pretty much the same things that have been happening since the late 1990s.
What They Know
Another misconception about Google is the wealth of data that they have.
Go through Google Compare and other comparison sites, you'll see they ask the same questions you do.
They don't know what cars you drive, how much you drive, how you drive, how many accidents, or what violations are on your MVR. They have to ask just like you do.
What they do know is user behavior. They know that users have changed. Users are online and mobile first.
But, you have already known that as an active observer of the industry over the past decade.
Don't Follow. Lead.
You have access to powerful website platforms and comparative rating systems. You have the ability for consumers to purchase directly from your insurance agency website. You can also automatically market to prospective and existing clients with agency marketing systems.
Stop trying to follow what others have done for the past century. The technology is here for you to lead the way for the independent insurance agency channel.
The Real Threat
Today's consumer has changed. They expect more. The real threat to the industry is not the companies reaching these online consumers. The real threat is those who choose not to meet the insurance buyer where and when they are.
If you want to hear more about how consumers have changed and what you can do to reach them, don't miss the keynote panel at ITC Agent Conference 2016. ITC Agent Conference takes place April 21-22 at Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center in Grapevine, Texas. Learn more at www.AgentConference.org.
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