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Women in Insurance Agencies Lead the Way in Meeting Consumer Needs

The latest research by Liberty Mutual and Safeco explores the unique strengths women bring to insurance agencies, as well as what female consumers want and need from agents. 
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women in insurance agencies lead the way in meeting consumer needs

In an ever-changing market environment, women in insurance agencies are rising to the challenge, according to “2024 Outlook: How Women in Agencies Are Meeting Consumer Needs," the latest research by Liberty Mutual and Safeco's Agent for the Future.

The study follows Agent for the Future's “State of Women in Independent Insurance Agencies" report that was released in 2022 and updated in 2023 and explores the unique strengths women bring to insurance agencies, as well as what female consumers want and need from agents and why retaining women is more important than ever. 

When asked about the traits they value most in an independent agent, consumers cited the top five as experience with insurance, responsiveness, ability to help them understand their insurance options, being proactive in knowing client needs and being an excellent listener.

“Compared to male insurance consumers, female insurance consumers reported less confidence in their insurance knowledge and a preference for having the advice of an expert when making decisions," the report said. “This doesn't necessarily mean that women know less about insurance than men do, but it does suggest that women in particular value the expertise and guidance agents offer."

Additionally, female consumers reported being less comfortable with financial risk, more worried about bad things happening to them or their families and more likely to want comprehensive coverage for low-probability risk factors.

Yet, women insurance consumers are by no means a small share of the market, with 85% of the women surveyed saying they are primary decision makers for insurance purchases. And research shows that women's purchasing power will continue to grow—data and analytics firm Nielsen predicts that women will own 75% of all discretionary spending by 2028. 

“This points to a big market opportunity for independent agents, who offer the counsel and guidance that female insurance purchasers want," the report said. “And with principals/owners who are women reporting particular strengths around making it easy to understand insurance options and being proactive in knowing their client's needs, our research suggests women-led agencies might offer a particularly good culture fit for female insurance consumers." 

According to the research, women in insurance are poised to meet the demand of female insurance buyers. Women and men in agencies reported similar strengths when it came to experience with insurance and listening, but women stood out when it came to responsiveness and proactivity, the study found. When compared to men, women were more likely to say responsiveness (72% to 64%) and proactivity in knowing client needs (35% to 26%) were among their top strengths.

The numbers show women's aptitude in these areas translates into their leadership styles as well. “When we looked at female principals and owners in particular, they were more likely than male principals and owners to report making it easy for clients to understand insurance options (67% compared to 59%) and being proactive in knowing their clients' needs (38% to 24%) among their top strengths," the study said.

However, women are still underrepresented at the leadership level. Agent for the Future's 2022 research report showed that women made up 31% of owners or principals in insurance agencies, and that number has decreased to 26% this year. Meanwhile, more than 75% of women make up frontline staff where they are the first point of contact and are having the most impact on the business and customers.

“If you're an agency leader, talking to women in your agency about their career aspirations is a great place to start," the study said. “Women often feel they have to prove themselves more than their male colleagues to reach the same level. The skills required for service staff are also great qualities in a leader—empower the women at your agency to dream big and help create clear pathways to get there." 

Will Jones is IA editor-in-chief.

Monday, March 25, 2024
Diversity & Inclusion