The insurance industry, and the agents that champion it, are affected by change, just like any other business. However, the changes are slow in coming. With advances in technology, most people can buy anything with their phones–on the comfort of their own couch.
While captive agents are aligned with the more traditional insurance narratives, independent agents are seeing more freedom in how they interact with their client base. However, each niche in the industry is affected by market trends, and the smart agent stays on top of them.
As we talked about earlier, smartphones have changed a lot. People don’t even have to own a computer now to research insurance policies, contact agents, and have conversations about their purchases. We’ve got a faster, better-informed generation of people looking for coverage.
Apps have bashed their way in, drawing a huge number of consumers with their conveniences. Basically, as people use technology to buy things in new ways, they’ll expect many industries to adapt to them. If you’re an insurance firm looking to break into a new market, look at what Uber is doing and try to adopt a similar model.
Local vs. Social Media
With the information exchange, it can be hard to decide on a venue to focus on. For agents, the local scene was the best place to invest time and resources. You could capitalize on word-of-mouth and local ads to gain a client base.
However, now everyone can use a search engine to find information. So, it’s no longer about just your local clients. Now, a new obstacle is balancing them with a wider, online audience.
With a new digital era comes a shift in trust. People want to see someone with a user profile online, so they can check out the agent before contacting them. A trustworthy profile on any social media is one asset any marketer can benefit from having.
However, with important purchases like insurance, it is still important for a local presence. While there are more ways to gather information, people still find comfort in speaking face to face with someone.
In essence, agents should evolve to embrace both worlds.
The big terms defining the insurance industry are now less defined. A decade ago, you could rely on terminology like “captive, direct channel, or independent agent,” now it’s not as black and white.
It’s become easier and more lucrative to work across industry channels. Captive agents find their companies talking with independent ones more. This is driven by the consumer base. With clients shopping around so much, and with a wider variety of brokers, it makes sense that the entire industry would become more fluid.
All of these together make up the power shift from underwriters to distribution (insurance agencies). In years past, underwriters were the real moneymakers when it came to policy sales. Now? Insurance agents are holding more power and more responsibility.