In this Q&A, American Modern Insurance Group Regional Vice President of Sales Elvia Alaniz discusses emerging risks, areas of potential growth for retail agencies, marketing strategies and what agents can do to stay relevant and grow their business over the next few years.
Which areas of growth do you see particularly accelerating over the next five years?
There are several upward trending growth opportunities. Segments like vacation and manufactured homes and collector vehicles have shown positive trends recently. California and Arizona have rebounded nicely since the recession, and could drive continued growth in both seasonal/vacation homes and in the manufactured home segment.
We think the sharing economy trends will continue to increase and expand. We’ve seen significant and sustainable growth opportunities in the shared real estate world (i.e. Air Bnb), and for shared watercraft and collector cars – similar to ride-sharing (i.e. Uber, Lyft).
Which emerging risks do you think will develop?
Smart technology, green building materials and alternative home choices like tiny homes immediately come to mind as emerging risks. In partnership with Munich Re subsidiary HSB and the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), American Modern recently built a smart, sustainable and secure home on our corporate campus. We used the latest smart technology and green materials designed to mitigate and prevent losses. We have and will continue to learn a lot through our Living Wise project about how advances in technology and construction can ultimately save money for policyholders. We look forward to sharing these findings with our partners and policyholders.
What steps must wholesalers and retail agents take to adapt to the current/changing needs of consumers?
Wholesalers should remain at the forefront of providing forward-thinking solutions, especially for hard to place risks and emerging markets. They can do this by partnering with relevant carriers and participating in company and industry events where these trends are discussed. Additionally, ease of use, accessibility and a strong and clearly defined brand/value proposition will be important to stand out amongst the competition. A strong marketing strategy, including a digital B2B strategy, is also important for visibility.
As for retail agents, a B2C digital and social media strategy will be important. Not new, but of increasing importance is to understand the current shifts and trends in local economies and consumer preferences. This is important for retailers because, to remain relevant, they must secure partnerships with carriers and wholesalers who can provide solutions to the rapidly changing needs of their local customers. Retailers should look at long-term strategic partnerships with carriers and wholesalers who are positioned to provide these solutions.
What do you recommend to retail insurance agents to ensure they remain successful in a soft rate environment?
: Ease of use, quick response times and strong ties to the local community via concentric circles are more critical than ever. In addition, managing online reputation and social presence is essential given the significant transparency of sharing sites like Yelp which allow for complete transparency and widespread communication – good or bad. Development of a strong service model – understanding the different and complex needs of their customers are also important. Finally, strong cross-selling and proactive retention strategies are necessary to remain relevant for the long-term through any market conditions – hard or soft.