Many independent agencies don’t have the kind of financial or human resources necessary to offer their insurance clients convenient tech like chat services, 24/7 availability, mobile-optimized websites and mobile apps.
The good news: “A lot of carriers are adopting technologies to benefit the agent,” says Jean-Marie Lovett, president of MassDrive, a Boston-based independent insurance agency, and Bindable, a technology firm that supports insurance companies and their consumers.
“With InsurTechs and the changing distribution models happening on a more national scale, there’s this instinct to go on the defensive—‘No, I don’t want my carriers to be doing self-servicing,’ or ‘I don’t want my carriers to offer an app to my clients. They’re my clients,’” Lovett says. “But there’s plenty of market share to go around. If agents keep having that mindset, that’s going to hurt them.”
Instead, “agents need to wrap their arms around that and say, ‘OK, great—how can I use this to my benefit and make sure the customer knows this is coming from me?’ You’re still playing that role in between, but you’re not getting in the way of a client accessing those more sophisticated technologies that your agency may not offer,” Lovett explains.
So how can you leverage carrier technology to your advantage, without sacrificing your agency’s unique brand?
At MassDrive, whenever an agent concludes a sale, “they let the client know exactly who they’re going be hearing from and what tools they’re going to have available to them,” Lovett says. “Then, we follow that up with a welcome email that includes links over to the carrier’s website and mobile app, if they have one.”
MassDrive also includes relevant carrier links on its agency website, which is mobile-optimized—a step Lovett believes is the bare minimum when it comes to delivering convenience to modern consumers.
“If I’m a customer of MassDrive but I have a policy with MAPFRE, I should be able to go to the MassDrive website and be able to connect with MAPFRE very easily,” Lovett says. “I don’t want to go to MassDrive’s site and have to fill out a form and wait until the CSR is in on Monday morning, when I could connect with the carrier right away. You have to make that process much more streamlined.”
Jacquelyn Connelly is IA senior editor.