How to Guide Your Client from Information Gatherer to Informed Decision Maker

First, there was the agricultural revolution. Then, the industrial revolution. And now, the information revolution.

The positive side of the information revolution is that the internet empowers consumers by giving them access to more information. But the negative is that too much information, when not understood through the proper filters, may result in poor decisions that lead to disappointing outcomes.

Information coupled with the right guidance, however, can make all the difference.

In an effort to better understand how consumers are researching and using insurance information online, Chubb recently commissioned a survey, “Winning the New Client Journey.” As many as 53% of consumers have shopped online for homeowners insurance in the past 12 months, and 61% are likely to do so in the future, according to the results.

In addition, financially successful individuals and families are the most likely to browse for home insurance online, with 63% and 73% of respondents reporting that they have or plan to do so, respectively—the most of any income group.

Using the same online shopping strategy to purchase homeowners insurance as they do to buy a pair of shoes could be a costly trend for consumers exposed to lower-cost plans—especially ones with little long-term value. But an overwhelming 80% of clients are looking for an agent to make a recommendation on coverage, not just on price, according to the survey. That means agents and brokers have an opportunity to set themselves apart and present their clients with effective solutions.

Here are three simple steps to use in every client engagement:

1) Provide context about the information the client has gathered. Quite often, a client experiences a life event that reveals a need to reevaluate their insurance. They probably search for coverage options online and then call you to discuss.

Clients reach out to agents and brokers rather than making independent decisions for two major reasons: advice and access. If you already have an ongoing relationship, your client values your ability to understand their life situation. And if something happens, they want to be able to call someone they have a relationship with, rather than a company rep.

2) Stretch their horizons to help them understand the long-term complexity of their insurance needs. Consumers generally have a bias for simplicity. Humans are hardwired to think short-term—and in insurance, that often translates to a focus on price. But when agents and brokers demonstrate that they anticipate and understand their clients’ broader needs, they can present bigger solutions that encompass future needs, not just immediate gains and benefits.

For example, consider an underinsured couple nearing retirement. While on vacation, a pipe bursts in their home, causing severe damage to their high-end custom kitchen cabinets and finished basement. In order to restore the home to its full value, they take out a home equity loan—and ultimately end up delaying retirement.

Such incidents can expose your clients to unforeseen challenges to their financial security. By stretching their horizons so that they see the entire playing field, you can help them avoid unforeseen circumstances.

3) Redefine value in terms they will understand. There are a few ways to change the way your clients define value.

First, your clients should fully understand the entire insurance product, including the best features and benefits with a strong emphasis on the long-term value of their policy. Second, the reputation of your agency or brokerage should serve to enhance the relationship.

Third, your relationship and conversations with your clients should be ongoing rather than just circumstantial. It may be the difference in how your client differentiates your value versus services offered somewhere else—including online resources.

Mary Parsons is executive vice president, sales & distribution leader, Chubb Personal Risk Services.