Morning Briefing: Insurance agents are vital to trust-building in the industry

Morning Briefing: Insurance agents are vital to trust-building in the industry

Morning Briefing: Insurance agents are vital to trust-building in the industry Insurance agents are vital to trust-building in the industry
The role of insurance brokers and agents has been endorsed by new research which serves as a warning to over-automation of the industry.

A poll by Mintel found that 51 per cent of millennials believe that insurance companies are more trustworthy now than they were 5 years ago but the wider population is less convinced (31 per cent).
Insurers have a tough battle to grow trust among female consumers; just 26 per cent believe the industry has become more trustworthy in the last 5 years compared to 36 per cent of men.

Respondents said insurance agents and brokers are vital to the trust-building process with 56 per cent citing them as the best source of information about insurance products.

“To improve their reputation among more skeptical demographics, insurers need to provide knowledgeable agents who can build trust with consumers and provide the human element a majority of consumers say they want,” commented Robyn Kaiserman, Senior Financial Services Analyst at Mintel. “Insurers should recognize that interaction is not necessarily limited to telephone conversations; it’s key for insurers to have agents accessible both in-person and online to dispense information to consumers.”

The poll reveals that the proportion of policyholders that have downloaded an insurance app is small; 18 per cent for auto, 15 per cent for health, 14 per cent for life and 10 per cent for home.
The tech that is appreciated the most by consumers is text messages, especially reminders of forthcoming premium payments or updates on claims. 
US uninsured rate remains at historical low
The proportion of American adults without insurance remains at a historical low according to data from Gallup and Healthways.

The second-quarter figure of 11 per cent is unchanged from that of the first quarter which in turn was down from 11.9 per cent in the last quarter of 2015, just before the start of health plans purchased through government exchanges during the last open enrolment period.

Since the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, the level of uninsured adults in the US has fallen 6.1 percentage points while the proportion of uninsured lower income earners has fallen by 10.1 percentage points in the same period. The level of uninsured Hispanic and Black Americans has also fallen sharply, by 10.9 and 8.6 percentage points respectively.

The study also reveals an increase in the proportion of policyholders (aged 18-64) who are paying for their own health plan; 21.8 per cent in Q2, 2016 compared to 17.6 per cent in Q4, 2014. Plans paid for by employers dipped 0.7 points to 43.5 per cent.
iA Financial completes acquisition of BMO retirement plan business
Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc. (iA Financial) of Quebec has completed its acquisition of BMO Group Retirement Services.

"Our Group Savings and Retirement sector is proud to contribute to our company's growth through this acquisition, which comes following eight others announced by iA Financial Group and its subsidiaries since the beginning of 2015," states Renée Laflamme, Executive Vice-President, Group Benefits and Retirement Solutions. "This demonstrates the important role of acquisitions in the continued success of our initiatives to grow our organization."

The retirement plans held under the BMO business are in the process of being transferred to iA and following completion of that process the GRS business will be wound up.