There’s no doubt that technology and digital innovation had a major impact on the insurance industry in 2016. Increasing numbers of agencies are becoming aware of the need to embrace technology and implement systems that optimize and streamline their businesses. Those that commit to technology investments are reaping the benefits. But what’s going to be the major insurance tech trend of 2017? IBA
caught up with Laird Rixford, President of Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC), to find out.
“The most important trend is, easily, automation,” says Rixford. “Technology has gotten fantastic when it comes to managing the policy and its details, but with the changing needs of today’s consumers, agencies need to be able to advertise and market effectively to all types of people, from millennials to baby boomers and everybody in between. More and more agencies are making sure they have the automation systems in place to manage those client relationships.”
Rixford has noticed a growing popularity of such Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems amongst agencies that are determined to increase their value proposition in what is an increasingly competitive market. As well as helping an agency to send out targeted communications and track all client contact, CRM tools enable insurance agencies to effectively organize their client database. Those still stuck on excel spreadsheets are, sadly, being left behind.
“We’re also starting to see a lot of agencies get involved in the lead selling space in order to monetize the traffic they’re getting but are not able to service,” Rixford says. “Traditionally, the agency force has been the distribution channel for carriers, but agencies are now using technology to find ways to better monetize their abilities. A lot of carriers are moving to direct models and that is forcing agencies to make sure they stay relevant.”
In enabling agencies to compete with carriers (who have the ability to spend significant amounts on marketing), Rixford believes that automation is critical in the modern insurance landscape. “There is concern right now that the role of the agent is dying but that’s absolutely not the case. There will always be a need for licensed agents, but technology is transforming the way agents are able maintain their businesses,” he says. “An agent that does not embrace technology in 2017, and doesn’t have the adequate tools to automate and market their process, really puts themselves at a disadvantage.”
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