Consider this. A couple decides to buy a home and uses online resources throughout the process. They visit Zillow.com to look at available properties. Next, they go to their bank’s website for a mortgage application and find out instantly that they are pre-approved. They use Unpakt.com to find and book movers. But, when they go to their insurance agency’s website to get homeowners insurance, that interactivity is not there. They fill out a static online form to request a quote. Then wait, and wait, and wait.
Consumers today are knowledgeable. That’s good news for agents, as they are often a go-to source for insurance guidance. Even younger generations appreciate the advice agents offer. According to a study by Safeco and Liberty Mutual, more than half of millennials purchased their policy through an independent agent. But the study also highlighted the bad news. Millennials are more likely than older generations to start shopping for insurance online.
Why should you care about how millennials want to shop and buy insurance? Because 2019 is the year they are expected to become the largest living adult generation. Plus, these trends are not isolated to millennials. Other generations also like to research options online before calling an agent.
The Power of Expertise
The future of insurance is not only digital. It is still hard for consumers to navigate their insurance policies. With varieties of coverage, deductibles and other options, it is a complex product. Agents play an important role in the insurance buying process. Their expertise and service help consumers make informed decisions.
Consumers are looking for that expertise — plus digital. It should be a symbiotic relationship. When done right, the experience is seamless no matter if the customer is engaging online or with a person. Unfortunately, many agents have not mastered this relationship as the opening example shows. For most agencies the interaction consumers have with their websites is static. It often involves submitting contact information in an online insurance form. And, they’re not always getting any insight into options and prices until the agent calls.
Consumers are looking for that expertise — plus digital. It should be a symbiotic relationship.
Strengthening Digital Superpowers
Digital transformation has created more competition. It is also driving opportunities to grow and expand business and connect in new ways. In the ideal experience, there is a seamless hand-off from online to physical and back to online again. Luckily, technology is changing to help you achieve this experience that consumers demand. The good news: the technology is easier to implement and less expensive than ever before.
Build a Navigable, Searchable Website. At this point, all agencies should have a website. But those that excel have a website that is clean, easy to navigate and found via search results. Your website should avoid long paragraphs of copy. Also make sure your call to action, such as “Request a quote” or “Contact us” is clearly visible. Use keywords that will help boost the website in online search results. Take advantage of other ways to get your agency in the search results. This could include online review platforms, news coverage and social media.
Ditch Static Insurance Forms. Consumers want to know someone will see the information they submit online. That their request won’t end up in a bottomless inbox. You need a solution that guides them through the quoting process. It should automate an authentic, personal conversation. For example, instead of a chatbot, the questions should come from a real agent at your agency. Instead of a static contact form, the solution should show the customer questions based on their previous answers. Next, you need a process in place, so the customer receives a message from you quickly. Best practice is to use the consumer’s preferred method of communication. This includes texting and social media.
Offer Price Comparison. Consumers are bombarded with ads about saving money on insurance. There is a real opportunity for you to offer consumers what they want — online price comparison. Representing multiple carriers and offering price comparison is already part of your job. Online comparative raters are easy to add to a website and provide more engagement. They also allow consumers to compare prices as well as coverage options. But not all comparative raters are created equal. Look for a solution that’s mobile responsive, so consumers can easily navigate it. It should compare the quoted policy to existing policies. Also, you want to look for a solution that you can adapt to your own branding. Some solutions even make the process fun by allowing consumers to take a picture of their driver’s license to prefill information.
Use Human Interaction Where It Counts. In-person and over-the-phone contact is integral to a sale. A website, virtual agent, or mobile app is not a replacement for an agent. Especially at handling a more complex product like insurance. So, give consumers the option to talk to a human at every phase of the online experience.
In the insurance industry, the human element is still needed as consumers rely on guidance from agents. Technology is playing an important role in the consumer’s experience. The convenience and ease of technology help consumers find and choose their agents. The future of insurance will be a perfect balance of technology and human contact.
Rixford, CEO of Insurance Technologies Corp. (ITC), is responsible for providing strategic direction and leadership for the firm. He has more than 20 years of experience in insurance technology.
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