Insurtechs are disrupting the industry, irreparably changing the insurance landscape, and drawing doomsayers to predict the death of the broker. But the agencies who adapt can flourish, says Jason Walker, managing partner at Smart Harbor, “a new company dedicated to marketing transformation in the insurance industry.”
The technology that is changing the industry should be embraced, he says, to actually enhance the agency model.
“You have this boom of insurtech – companies that are building apps to serve either a single function or to serve a specific product line to, in some cases, cut out the broker or the agent altogether,” he said. “But what we’re seeing through surveys and research … is that consumers still prefer to have a balance between the technology they will use to research and understand price comparisons, but they still want that human interaction to provide that advice you just can’t have an algorithm for.
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“[So] it’s about making the distribution channels of insurance agencies much more productive through efficiency gains, by leveraging that balance between technology and human counsel. The insurance space is not going away, when we talk about agents, but it’s a space that needs to make sure that it evolves as this insurtech boom takes place.”
It seems to be the younger crowd who are evolving fastest, Walker says, as the older generation moves out of the industry.
“It’s a generational shift,” he said. “We’re noticing it [a take up of insurtech services] more and more as a result of the boomers, who are retiring, and the generation coming in … and they say, look, I can take what you’ve built from a traditional perspective and make it more streamlined, efficient, and rely on digital technology to fill in the gap of what might have decreased your margins in the past.”
And increasing those margins is what it’s all about, Walker says, with many agents moving towards more complex portfolios.
“If you can start to put some technology in place that really is just streamlining what you do manually today and making it more automated tomorrow, that frees up the ability of that producer to have more detailed conversations and basically be able to take on business faster, as well as be able to mine their existing books to be able to grow that book because they’re leveraging technology to replace that manual work they’ve done in the past,” he explained.
“You’re not saying let’s get rid of the human element, you’re saying let’s realign the human element to be more productive, to drive additional growth.”
The insurtech boom “is not the death knell” for brokers, Walker says – at least, it won’t be for those willing to evolve and grow with it.
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