The internet has changed how people research and shop for insurance. Shopping online increases people’s access to information and expedites the purchase process, but it also increases the thinking that all insurance is the same. When shoppers approach insurance in that way, price becomes the differentiating factor rather than finding the coverage that best fits their unique needs and expectations.
A recent survey from Chubb called ‘Winning the New Client Journey’ found that more than half of consumers (53%) have shopped online for homeowners’ insurance in the past 12 months, and 61% are likely to do so in the future. The plurality of respondents (35%) cited saving time as the top reason for purchasing insurance online. While this digital shopping trend – focused around homeowners’ insurance for Chubb’s research but emerging elsewhere in personal and small commercial lines - may seem concerning for insurance agents and brokers, Chubb states that it actually points to enhanced opportunities for agents and brokers.
“While the option to shop for insurance online can appear to be a time saver, there is risk in using the same online shopping strategy as buying a pair of shoes to purchasing insurance,” said Mary Parsons, executive vice president, sales and distribution leader, of Chubb Personal Risk Services. “The online shopping trend means that consumers are arriving at the doors of independent agents and brokers feeling more informed about insurance but they’re also more focused on price. The reality is, not all insurance is the same. One size does not fit all, and independent agents and brokers are uniquely positioned to help clients make sense of all the information available online, so that they can choose the right coverages.”
In order to engage holistically with online insurance shoppers, insurance agents and brokers need to create an online presence that promotes a positive image of their business and clearly articulates their value proposition, according to Parsons. This might include modernizing their websites, upping their game on social media, and expanding their traditional brick and mortar insurance marketing to include digital promotion and online tools.
“Agents can differentiate themselves by helping their clients redefine value in the clients’ terms,” Parsons told Insurance Business. “They can ask questions to understand the client’s needs and expectations so that they can craft a proper insurance program for that client. For example, an agent could ask a question like: ‘If you were in a bad car accident and someone sued your family for $3 million, would you have enough money to settle the lawsuit and still retire in the time frame that you planned?’ All insurance is not the same, so it’s important to understand what’s important to the client, so agents and brokers craft an insurance program that meets those needs.”
Almost 70% of respondents to the Chubb survey said there were advantages to working with agents and brokers as part of the insurance shopping process, with most highlighting the advocacy brokers provide and the benefits of being able to talk to a real person in the event of a claim. Chubb’s research suggests that clients work with agents for three reasons: advice, access to an individual, and to save time. It all harks back to the fact that all insurance is not the same, stressed Parsons, and that agents and brokers hold the key to help clients make that discovery.
“The first thing an agent or broker should do when embarking on this digital journey is look at their digital footprint,” Parsons commented. “Look at your website and ask the following questions: When was the last time it was updated? How modern and interactive is it? How does it compare to other retail-oriented shopping experiences online? Is the contact information up to date? Does your online footprint articulate your value proposition as an agency or brokerage, but also individually? Are you displaying thought leadership? Differentiating your digital strategy presents a great opportunity for agents and brokers to demonstrate their value and grow their business.”
While ‘going digital’ may seem daunting, many carriers offer solutions to help their broker partners work more efficiently in today’s digital environment. For example, Chubb has made multiple technological investments by rolling out a Chubb mobile app, the Chubb @ the Wheel Teen Driver App, eSignature capabilities, text and email alerts for clients, and easy online enrollment for Chubb services. The insurer is also offering sales training to its agent and broker partners to help them demonstrate and articulate their value proposition.
“We’re investing very heavily in digital marketing tools to educate clients about the value of working with an independent agent or broker,” Parsons added. “Our advice is that consumers should work with an independent agent who can craft an insurance program that’s unique to their needs and expectations.”