The following is an opinion piece written by Sharmila Ray, SVP of Product and Strategy at Vertafore. The views expressed within the article are not necessarily reflective of those of Insurance Business.
The insurance industry has flourished and evolved in recent years with the onset of insurtech bringing both challenges and new opportunities. While year-end predictions included buzz words like AI, blockchain and machine learning, a mid-year check-in reveals a more simplistic picture in place guiding the direction of the industry. I’ll give you a hint: it focuses on the technology that ultimately enables the most impactful relationships with your customers.
- The insurance distribution model is changing, not going away
While technology is certainly changing the way agents conduct business, change doesn’t have to be a bad thing. These new advancements bring opportunity to those willing to embrace change and innovate their practice by allocating resources in a way that allows agents to focus on building relationships.
Insurance technology is meant to strengthen relationships, not destroy them. In a service-first industry where decisions are made in an instant, experience and responsiveness can make or break a sale, and winning and retaining customers is all about the quality of your relationships.
An effective content management and workflow tool helps agents “work smarter, not harder.” These tools solve the challenge of workflow bottlenecks and effectively allocate resources to free up time to focus on the customer and tasks that matter. On the carrier side, these tools reduce operating costs and increase profitability with content management, enterprise workflow and business intelligence solutions.
All in all, insurtech solutions continue to shape the competitive landscape by offering insight into your prospective customers while eliminating time-consuming tasks to enable more time building connections.
- Agency management systems are a requirement, not an option
According to a recent study, eight in 10 agencies use an agency management system to drive efficiency and value for the business. Operational challenges, such as poor content management or reliance on manual processes, take time away from building relationships and building relationships that matter. One of the most time-consuming processes in an agency is written communication with large groups of customers. With tools that automate bulk customer communication, agents are able to save time and effort and direct their focus on managing the business and serving customers.
Agency management systems provide an efficient way to provide the most accurate policy documents, with carrier documents automatically attached to a client policy. This eliminates time spent manually routing eDocs messages, attachments, and downloads, as well as the need for staff to open email, scan, file, or shred paper documents. Independent agents shouldn’t feel threatened by technology such as agency management systems. These cutting-edge technologies automate administrative activities to reduce manual processes and put people back at the heart of the insurance industry.
- Increased connectivity between carriers and insurance agencies
Powered by streamlined connections with carriers, data enables agencies to provide tailored coverage options for their customers. When data is seamlessly transferred to every member of the insurance distribution chain, carriers that would normally be disconnected from customers are able to access information in an instant. With improved data and analytics, carriers and agents alike can access benchmark data showing coverage that similar clients and prospects are buying. This includes structured and enhanced company and client data to discover new opportunities for business growth. Moreover, these tools allow teams to create compelling sales materials with data-driven insights about a prospect’s risks, peers and industry.
As the connection between carriers and agencies grow, so too does the quality of service provided to the customer. The more data and connectivity available in the insurance ecosystem, the more the we’ll be able to adapt and meet the changing needs of customers.
While technology continues to shape and guide the future of insurance, it’s no longer an option for independent agents and small businesses to adapt to the changing landscape. They must embrace it: technology can not only enable insurance agents to expand their offerings and solidify their role in the distribution model, but above all else, focus on building long-lasting relationships. Beyond agents, customers benefit from personalized and increased touch points, leading to better tailored insurance policies and cost efficiencies. As these technologies grow, so does the velocity of relationships, and ultimately business.