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Client Expectations Grow for Insurance Agents

Commercial lines and personal lines clients need their insurance agents’ advice on a wider variety of business solutions, including retirement, banking benefits and cybersecurity, according to Nationwide.
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client expectations grow for insurance agents

Commercial lines and personal lines clients expect and need their insurance agents' advice on a wider variety of business solutions than last year, according to a Nationwide survey, which means agents have more cross-selling opportunities.

The latest Nationwide Agency Forward survey found that insurance consumers are looking for counsel from agents as they continue to worry about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic's impact.

The reliance on agents comes with consumers' growing confidence in their agent's ability to help protect them—90% of midsize business owners (up 7% from June 2020) and 69% of personal lines consumers (up 8%) say their agent regularly works with them to ensure they have the right coverage for their needs.

Employee benefits is the nontraditional product most likely to catch a business owner's eye, with 59% of midsize business owners indicating they are interested in employee benefits. Among small business owners, 37% are interested in employee benefits, a 15% increase since the same time last year.

Additionally, 39% of midsized businesses are interested in retirement products. Thirty-two percent of small business owners said they are interested—a 14% increase since last year. Among personal lines consumers, 29% indicated they are interested in retirement topics from their agent.

When it comes to cybersecurity, 41% of midsize businesses, 28% of small businesses, and 20% of personal lines consumers express interest in receiving resources and advice about how to safeguard themselves.

One area that saw a significant growth of interest across the board was banking. Midsize business owners' interest jumped from 12% in 2020 to 52% in 2021. Small business owners interest gained 7% to hit 18% in 2021, and consumer interest gained 6% to reach 24%.

However, increased cross-selling opportunities are irrelevant if agents can't reach their clients—and shifting consumer locations mean agents must implement digital tools to do so. More than 1 in 3 personal lines consumers plan to move away from their current location in the next five years, with 1 in 4 of those saying the pandemic impacted their decision. And 1 in 5 business owners intend to reduce, move or eliminate offices in the next five years—with middle market business owners being three times more likely than small business owners to say the pandemic influenced their plans.

As a result of the geographical shift, 47% of agents are concerned about their ability to retain clients who relocate and 61% plan to invest heavily or moderately to attract, maintain and foster relationships with clients outside their current geographies.

Interestingly, “although 57% of agents feel clients want their agent located nearby, less than half of consumers and small business owners agree with that sentiment," said Peter McMurtrie, president of property-casualty commercial lines at Nationwide.

Unfortunately, insurance customers report increased challenges with their insurance needs in 2021. Half of all small business owners struggle with the length of time it takes to settle claims, to find the best price for their protection needs, and to understand insurance terminology.

Middle market business owners have similar challenges, but about 75% also report difficulties with the length of time it takes to set up their coverage, an increase of 11% since 2020. Difficulty in receiving insurance quotes and in quickly connecting with their agent by phone each increased by 7%.

Similar to 2020, consumers continue to struggle with the length of time it takes to settle claims (69%), understanding different types of coverage (42%), and finding the best price (42%).

AnneMarie McPherson is IA news editor. 

Thursday, November 18, 2021
Sales & Marketing