Whether it’s reevaluating tried-and-true policies or exploring new lines, agents have several opportunities to expand this summer.
Everyone else may be heading out to the nearest beach or tropical destination, but summertime is also a great time for independent agents to explore new business opportunities.
One of the truisms for independent agents is that the only time they get to talk to a customer is when they are renewing a policy or filing a claim. However, finding opportunities to bring information and, in many cases, premium-saving ideas mid-term can help build that relationship while also potentially drumming up more business in the long run.
Whether it is reevaluating some tried-and-true policies or exploring new lines or even the virtual world, there are opportunities to be had for independent agents looking for places to expand this summer.
Here are five areas agents can look for growth:
1) Current coverages. The COVID-19 pandemic was all about businesses reinventing themselves. Some restaurants pivoted to takeout. Some added outdoor dining. Others looked at bringing live entertainment to their outdoor spaces. And it wasn't just food. Offices became ghost towns while living rooms became conference rooms.
It makes sense that many of those businesses made those changes to stay alive but many of them did so without stopping to ensure they were properly covered for those new risks.
Do their employees-turned-delivery-drivers have proper auto coverage? Does the business owner's policy cover special events or off-site food liability? Are the ergonomically questionable workspaces—the sofa became the new desk chair—setting the employer up for a workers compensation claim?
On the flip side, if the business was responsible and expanded its coverage but is now moving back to business as usual, is it now over-insured?
Talking to the policyholders about what they should be insuring, and perhaps what isn't as important to insure anymore, can be a terrific opportunity for a customer touch point.
2) Business interruption. One of the defining frustrations during the pandemic was business owners believing they were covered for business interruption, only to find out that the policy required physical damage before interruption clauses kicked in—or even that the policies specifically excluded “communicable diseases" but the policyholder didn't realize it.
Now that shutdowns are a thing of the past and many of the resulting high-profile business interruption insurance lawsuits are a long way down the road in the court system, it would be a good idea to discuss what is and isn't covered and to see if there are other coverages that would benefit business owners.
Some of the business interruption insurance claims have been falling in favor of the businesses. Many more have been falling in the way of the insurers. But the agent's key to summer fun is avoiding such a lawsuit by ensuring everyone is on the same page before the next crisis hits.
3) Cyber and the metaverse. The world is moving into the metaverse—a “simulated digital environment that uses augmented reality, virtual reality, and blockchain, along with concepts from social media, to create spaces for rich user interaction mimicking the real world," according to XR Today—and it's definitely going to play an increasing role in our future.
For businesses, the metaverse will present risk, which may mean an opportunity for insurance. While there aren't yet policies tailored for the metaverse, many of the inherent risks are covered through standard lines.
If a nefarious actor snuck ransomware onto a business' computers, does it have a plan for recovering? Many business owners policies do but what about customer data breaches? Or payment card data liability? Educating policyholders about best practices and coverages that are already available through business lines can be a terrific conversation starter.
4) Cannabis. More and more states are expanding medical and even recreational cannabis, but many of those cannabis businesses decry how little insurance is available to them.
The cannabis market is maturing and the risks are becoming clearer. That means that much of the underwriting is also becoming clearer.
While there are some high-profile stories about heists at dispensaries, there are also industry standards for securing the businesses and minimizing their risks. And the reality is, as many carriers in the cannabis space point out, that the most common risks they cover aren't a whole lot different than any other business—fires and sewage backups to name two. Specializing in this growing field may present an opportunity to catch a shooting star on the rise.
5) InsurTech. The world is automating—and that includes insurance. The pandemic taught us that face-to-face underwriting for life insurance may be a costly luxury that is replaceable by automated underwriting.
And as satellite imaging and geospatial services rapidly grow, automated underwriting is also becoming a reality in property-casualty lines. With the click of a mouse, underwriters can now examine a business' roof, the surrounding tree lines and whether there is a yard strewn with liability-tempting debris around the property.
InsurTech is also helping anticipate losses. Auto insurers can rely on telematics devices, which either plug into a vehicle's diagnostic port or, increasingly, rely on the vehicle's onboard computers.
And telematics in the home—whether it is a networked fire alarm, leak monitor or any of the emerging smart home devices—could all head off a claim before it becomes a catastrophe and are possibilities that could help bring down the cost for policyholders.
Telematics opportunities are ripe for the picking because, according to many of the researchers who are studying telematics adoption, a majority of policyholders have never heard of them—simply because their agents have not yet been educated about telematics themselves.
So, as everyone else heads to the beach, consider taking a few minutes this summer instead to talk to your clients about ways you can help them protect themselves and their businesses, and perhaps even save some money while doing it.
Michael Giusti is an analyst and senior writer for InsuranceQuotes.com.