Independent Agents Drawn to Tablet Applications: Channel Harvest

July 29, 2014

Many independent insurance agents say that tablet devices are going to be more important in the next couple of years — particularly for sales presentations and accessing carrier-based training. This is among the many findings in a new national survey of agents conducted by Channel Harvest Research.

The national survey of agents on their attitudes regarding carriers — on a wide range of issues — was sponsored by Insurance Journal.

In the next one to two years, more respondents anticipate increases in tablet-based applications than smart phone apps, noted Jess McLaughlin, research director for Channel Harvest. She said the difference is especially striking for display-oriented tasks:

  • Showing sales presentations (25 percent expect tablet use to increase, while only 8 percent expect phone use to increase).
  • Accessing training, with 22 percent expecting increased tablet use for this purpose.

Relative to laptops, mobile phone and tablet usage generally is higher for apps related to personal tasks and organization, information gathering, document access and sharing, and social media management.

Although 2 in 5 respondents use their laptop to attend online meetings (40 percent) and to access carrier training (also 40 percent), few do so on their mobile phone or tablet.”Access traffic and travel-related information” and “manage social media” ranked in the top three for both mobile phone and tablet usage.

The most frequently used apps on tablets are typically “one-way” apps that do not require interaction, McLaughlin said.

Some 11 percent are using their tablets to manage their agency’s social media function (e.g., posting content).

Respondents who focus on small and middle-market commercial business are more likely to use tablet apps, McLaughlin said.

Home: Where the Heart Is?

Among other subject areas, respondents were asked where they spend their time working.

Nearly three-quarters spend at least some of their typical workweek involved with in-person client and prospect visits, sales calls or presentations (71 percent). Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) do some traveling to and from client and prospect locations.

Nearly 50 percent perform at least some work from their personal home office in a typical week.

About the Research

The study, “2014 Survey of Agent-Carrier Relationships: Agents Left to Their Own Devices,” is the seventh in a series examining independent agents’ views on marketplace issues. More than 1,400 agents completed the survey.

The survey instrument covers dozens of questions in a number of unique subject areas, including the top-three personal and commercial lines carriers (and reasons for switching #1 carriers), use of mobile apps and social media platforms, and carrier support services agents desire most. Quantitative survey results are presented in a variety of formats, including importance rankings of specific-carrier attributes, ratings of specific companies on attributes, industry issues, and open-ended agency comments about what breaks out superior carriers from the pack. The report explores differences between agents focused on personal and commercial lines. Carriers can purchase the data set to further explore cross-tabs.

For information on obtaining the survey report, contact John Campbell at or 202-363-2069, or visit

Topics Carriers Agencies Training Development

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