As many as 53% of independent agents are expecting a significant increase in online commercial insurance buyers over the next three years.
The writing is on the wall—there will be more businesses buying insurance online in the next three years, according to a new report by Semsee and TrustedChoice.com, the nation's largest digital marketing platform for independent agents and brokers.
As many as 42% of independent agents surveyed say they have seen an increase in commercial opportunities since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, the majority (53%) are expecting a significant increase in online commercial insurance buyers over the next three years, according to the report.
“The survey shows that agents have clearly become more digital in the last two years, especially in terms of leveraging virtual communications technologies like videoconferencing and e-signature tools, which is a testament to the adaptability of the IA channel," explained Chip Bacciocco, CEO, TrustedChoice.com. “And when it comes to sales and marketing, there are still opportunities to expand what they're doing, both in terms of finding new business opportunities and efficiently closing those deals."
Nevertheless, many agents recognize the need to make significant improvements to become even more digital through the improved implementation of search engine optimization (SEO), new and faster ways to assess insurer appetite, and efficiently obtaining quotes from multiple carriers.
While 60% of agents rate their use of digital technology with commercial clients as “good" or “excellent," 40% say their tech is just “OK" or “needs significant improvement."
Further, only 49% currently have an SEO plan. Lack of time to plan and no one in the agency understanding SEO are the biggest SEO obstacles agencies face. More than 1 in 2 respondents don't have an SEO strategy or are not sure whether they have one.
“Winning and placing new business is a particular challenge for agencies that offer commercial," said Philip Charles-Pierre, CEO, Semsee. “Business leaders have told us that they want to see multiple policy options from agents. Yet, finding markets and getting quotes can be such a time-consuming process for agents."
“Three-quarters of agents told us they're using online portals to get this information, meaning they're entering data multiple times," Charles-Pierre explains. “Many agents said they also rely on experience with specific carriers to place business today, a process that is not likely to work well in the future as insurance products change and they target new markets."
Of all the barriers to winning new business, many agents indicated that the most difficult ones were finding a market for their prospects and getting quotes from insurance providers. When it comes to carriers' digital capabilities, agents are split—53% of agents rate carriers' technology good or excellent and 47% would like to see more from carriers.
Agents cite lack of consistency from portal to portal, limited interaction with underwriters, and no up-front indications about whether the carriers will accept new business as the biggest concerns.
Olivia Overman is IA content editor.