During the pandemic delivery drivers emerged as essential workers to keep the U.S. economy moving. With reliance on commercial fleets increasing, business owners are willing to invest to improve safety through telematics solutions, presenting a prime growth area for commercial agents.
Amid the pandemic, delivery drivers emerged as essential workers who were, quite literally, keeping the U.S. economy moving. On a local and national scale, they became heroes, dispersing grocery orders, electronics to assist learning and working from home, and home comforts to make one of the most miserable years in living memory a little more bearable.
As businesses disbanded employees to their homes and lockdown orders kept families inside, reliance on the ability to deliver goods across the country increased like never before, addressing seismic shifts in consumer behavior.
With reliance on commercial fleets increasing, Nationwide released research last month showing telematics solutions present a prime growth area for commercial agents as most middle-market business owners welcome the technology and champion its positive safety and operational impacts.
“In addition to managing their business, many middle-market business owners face the added concerns related to the safety of their drivers and fleet vehicles," says Pete Frey, director of commercial lines telematics at Nationwide. “The results highlight a tremendous opportunity for carriers and agents to change the conversation around telematics from being a nice 'add-on' perk, to what it really has become—an essential tool for operating a fleet-focused business."
Business owners estimate their fleets experience 7.5 accidents per year, so it's not surprising their top concerns include distracted driving among employees, accidents with vehicles and the safety of drivers, and knowing the location of their business' vehicles. Business owners also indicate they've done their research and are willing to invest to improve safety, with 86% aware of telematics solutions and nearly 90% agreeing the benefits outweigh the financial cost, according to Nationwide.
“It's a good time for agencies to revisit the types of resources and support they provide to team members, especially producers and customer service representatives, to help them effectively discuss the advantages of telematics with clients and how it's integrated with insurance," Frey says. “Also, consider a carrier's role in the sales or account review processes. In some cases, connecting a client directly with loss control or product experts can offer additional technical expertise to help guide the customer and allow you to focus on other ways to serve them."
The Nationwide survey also highlights a few misconceptions business owners hold about telematics and the difficulties with installing the technology, emphasizing opportunities for agents and carriers to better educate clients on solutions available, how they work and how they collect and use data.
“Today's telematics programs help make it very clear to customers and agents how data is being collected and used, and the benefits customers can gain," Frey adds. “With growing telematics adoption among business owners, agents have a tremendous opportunity to provide needed recommendations and resources to business owners as they look for the right solution for their operation."
Will Jones is IA editor-in-chief.
This article was published in the January 2021 issue of Independent Agent magazine.