Gen Z Wants Agent Face Time

The digital natives of Gen Z prefer to meet with an insurance agent in person even more than millennials.

Surprised?

The Future of Insurance: Bye-Bye Boomers, Hello Digital Natives,” a report created by Applied Systems and InVEST®, analyzes responses from a sample of 1,744 Gen Z consumers 16-19 years old. A portion of the Gen Z survey responses were also compared to millennial responses taken from an Applied Systems-sponsored survey of 1,000 individuals between the ages of 18-34.

The findings illustrate how both generations prefer to shop for insurance coverage and interact with insurance firms. Reid French, chief executive officer, Applied Systems, says the report further underscores the fact that millennials and Gen Z consumers are attracted to insurance firms that provide the customer-centric, 24/7 experiences they have become accustomed to in other industries.

“Independent agencies need to invest in technology to provide multichannel customer service experiences and to establish an innovative workplace to attract the next waves of insurance consumers and professionals,” French says.

When purchasing insurance, Gen Z and millennials both highly value an in-person meeting with an agent: 55% of Gen Z prefers to purchase auto insurance in person, compared to 37% of millennials. Notably, 35% of millennials purchase auto insurance online, compared to 29% for Gen Z.

Once they have insurance, the social natives of Gen Z prefer to meet in person—which could also include face-to-face meetings via technology such as Skype or FaceTime—or talk on the phone with their agent. Gen Z prefers in-person meetings (55%), compared to 34% of millennials, most of whom are happy to communicate with their agent over the phone or online.

For both Gen Z and millennials, referrals from family or friends have the greatest influence on finding an insurance provider. Both generations rely heavily on their social networks for referrals: 51% and 54% of Gen Z and millennials, respectively, found their current insurance provider through referrals. Search engines and online reviews were the next most common sources for information on insurance providers.

Unsurprisingly, both generations also highly value 24/7 access to information and customer service, particularly via a mobile app. An average of 97% of Gen Z and millennials noted 24/7 service as an important part of their insurance purchasing decision, while 88% of Gen Z noted access to information and service via a mobile app as important.

The report also finds that Gen Z looks to its closest peers, the millennials, when defining priorities for a career. Similar to millennials, Gen Z identifies income potential and a job that aligns with their interests as the most important job characteristics, closely followed by flexible work environment and an innovative company.

But Gen Z, along with millennials, need to be convinced that insurance is a rewarding career option. More than 60% of Gen Z and millennials are not familiar with the insurance industry’s career opportunities.

“The Big ‘I’ and InVEST continue striving to keep our agents informed of the latest developments in the industry and on the forefront of trends that may impact their hiring and marketing decisions,” says Cindy Hower, InVEST board chair and president of Kellerman Insurance, an independent agency in Holton, Kansas. “This survey really highlights the opportunities for independent agents to thrive with Gen Z as consumers and potential hires.”

Katie Butler is IA editor in chief.