Agent Survey: Not All Carrier Training Is Created Equal

August 25, 2014

Independent agents say product training (used by 50 percent) and technology systems training (used by 41 percent) were the most common types of insurance carrier-provided training they attended last year.

However, when the subject turned to the types of training that agents say they really want going forward, there are two that stand out:

  1. Courses that qualify for continuing education credits or industry designation (desired by 28 percent), and
  2. Training/Consulting on how to use the agency website to bring in business (desired by 24 percent).

This is among the many findings in a new national survey of agents conducted by Channel Harvest Research and sponsored by Insurance Journal.

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More than one in four (26 percent) of agents want carrier training to be delivered in multiple ways: live webinars, e-learning and videos, for example.

In the category of carrier-provided funds for lead generation, co-branded advertising was used in 2013 by 50 percent of agencies, while 40 percent of agencies received leads generated by third-party online insurance marketing websites. But going forward, the most-desired types of carrier support in this category are paying for agents to attend industry networking events (desired by 27 percent) and funds for co-branded advertising (26 percent).

In 2013, direct mail programs were the most-used type of carrier support in the area of management and marketing (cited by 15 percent), followed by cross-selling, agency management, shareable content, and social media support (each cited by 11 percent).

Going forward, agents expressed higher levels of interest in all of the listed management and marketing services as compared with the percentage that used those services last year. This indicates that carriers should offer more of these services and/or increase agent awareness of currently offered services, noted Jess McLaughlin, research director for Channel Harvest.

Respondents expressed the most interest in support for their social media presence (desired by 25 percent). More than 20 percent desire direct mail, agency management support, and shareable content.

More than one in four (26 percent) would like carrier training to be delivered in multiple ways: live webinars, eLearnings, videos, etc.

Home: Where the Agent Is?

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

Nearly three-quarters of independent agents 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 offices 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 No. 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 john@channelharvest.com or 202-363-2069, or visit www.channelharvest.com.

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