A new survey by Nationwide Insurance has found that most middle market business owners are open to the idea of using telematics technology to help monitor their fleets – an opportunity that many commercial insurance agents are missing out on, the study noted.
Nationwide’s new Agent Authority survey revealed that 86% of businesses are aware of telematics solutions thanks to their own independent research, and 90% even indicated that the benefits of the technology outweigh the financial cost. Some 88% of middle market business owners with fleet vehicles are even willing to trust their agent’s counsel on telematics.
But not every insurance agent is equipped to handle their clients’ telematics concerns; only 64% of agents believe they are knowledgeable about vehicle telematics devices and apps. Similarly, about four in 10 producers and seven in 10 customer service representatives do not feel that they have the resources to effectively counsel clients on telematics.
The survey also found that 14% of agents said they do not think their clients would pay at all for telematics, despite 93% of businesses saying they would pay to ensure a safer driving experience for their fleet. Nationwide also noted that 70% of business owners would be willing to pay between $20 and $39.99 per month per vehicle for telematics technologies, while over 60% of agents said they think clients would pay $29.99 or less a month.
Even the idea of what causes fleet vehicle accidents differs between agents and their clients. Most agents believe distracted driving is the top cause of accidents, but business owners cite driving under the influence, driver error, road conditions and weather as leading causes of accidents for their fleet vehicles.
“In addition to managing their business, many middle market business owners face added concerns related to the safety of their drivers and fleet vehicles,” said Nationwide director of commercial lines telematics Pete Frey. “The results highlight a tremendous opportunity for carriers and agents to change the conversation around telematics from being a nice ‘add-on’ perk, to what it really has become – an essential tool for operating a fleet-focused business.”
Frey has recommended that now is a good time for agencies to revisit the types of resources and support they provide their team – especially producers and customer service representatives – to help them effectively discuss telematics and its advantages with clients.
“Also, consider a carrier’s role in the sales or account review processes. In some cases, connecting a client directly with loss control or product experts can offer additional technical expertise to help guide the customer and allow you to focus on other ways to serve them,” the director added.