Agents are in a great position to help foster positive consumer interactions and value-added transactions to the homeowners insurance market. Here are three factors that can help.
Homeowners insurance can be a misunderstood product. Most people don't spend their precious free time thinking about home insurance—yet they think a lot about the risks insurance products can protect against.
The independent agent is in a great position to help bridge this chasm. Agents have access to many carrier rates and coverages, allowing them to select coverages that best meet the unique needs of customers while balancing what customers are willing to pay.
The ability to compare prices allows agents to help customers get the coverages they need at a fair price, an extremely important factor for consumers as 100% of home insurance “hunters" are looking for competitive pricing to drive their purchase, according to Accenture. However, the overall home insurance industry is in need of a facelift, with nearly 74% of homeowners insurance customers indicating they believe the industry needs improvement, according to the J.D. Power U.S. Home Insurance Study.
Agents need to look to the future to determine how they will conduct business that will foster positive consumer interactions and value-added transactions.
Here are three factors that can help independent agents increase the likelihood of homeowners policy success for years to come:
1) Continue being human. Contrary to popular belief, consumers still value personal interactions over computer-generated advice—82% of U.S. consumers prefer to interact with a real person, according to PwC. This is your competitive differentiator.
Personalized advice and tailored experiences are what consumers seek and value in a partnership. For example, if you have a handful of clients that live in a region that is expected to be hit by an upcoming tropical storm, check in with them about their pre- and post-storm preparedness strategy.
2) Learn from the direct carriers. Direct home insurance carriers have introduced many innovative offerings that are worth emulating. One example is the use of technology to offer instant quotes 24/7.
This can also be done on the independent agent level with application programming interfaces (APIs) that contact carriers directly to pull a quote. Agents can simply instruct customers to input their basic property information into the agency webpage and the technology does the rest.
3) Embrace industry technology. Independent agents can learn from the technology-first aggregators, or InsurTechs, who offer sophisticated platforms that are backed by data science and advanced algorithms to optimize their distribution.
If independent agents and carriers work together to use data science and advanced analytics capabilities to increase the efficiency of the agent's marketing prospecting efforts, they can scale the benefits. The carriers are already doing this analytical work and employing highly talented marketers and data scientists, so why not have them conduct analytics you might not be able to do otherwise?
As we head toward the holiday season, homeowner insurance will probably not dominate our virtual Thanksgiving table conversations, but it is a product that independent agents are uniquely positioned to champion and make even better in the coming years.
Jeff Wright is chief product officer at Plymouth Rock Home Assurance.