The internet has made it easier for people to shop for financial products, including insurance. Once upon a time, consumers relied on agents to explain to them different offers and help them choose which one is most ideal for their lifestyle. In exchange, the agent will take home a percentage of every sale.
Nowadays, if you want a financial product, you can go online and search for one for yourself. A new condo owner, for example, can easily browse websites that sell and promote insurance specifically for condo units. To see their options, they can also check available information on online insurance comparison platforms.
Just like any other industry, the insurance industry has evolved over the years to cater to the changing preferences and needs of its clients. The internet is a huge influence that led to these transformations.
Consumers all over the world want instant access to the products that they need or want. Now, through e-commerce, people can make a purchase and have it delivered right on their doorsteps within the same day. It is fast. It is convenient.
They expect the same experience for all purchases. That is why it is important for all insurers to provide multiple access channels that include digital platforms and a dedicated agent.
One survey in Germany found that most consumers want to use digital channels. However, more than half of respondents said that they also cannot imagine purchasing insurance over the internet.
While people have grown accustomed to the accessibility and convenience offered by the internet, they still want the human touch. Agents still play an important part in influencing their purchasing decision. They want and trust the expert advice they get from an agent.
Providing multiple access channels to consumers benefits the business because it provides options. To this day, there are still a significant number of customers who purchase insurance offline. However, their number is decreasing. In the coming years, more and more people might seek information and express the internet to purchase through online channels. But, right now, the insurer has every reason to offer both offline and online as options.
The Enduring Necessity of Insurance Agents
Providing multiple access channels requires the expertise of agents. Since 2010, the number of insurance agents has been seeing a significant and worrying decline. Moreover, in the United States, the average age of insurance agents working is 59 years old (as of 2016).
It seems to be a career that is on its way out, especially in the digital revolution where consumers can do their own research and purchase their own insurance.
However, in most cases, customers want to be able to talk to and be guided by another human. In one study involving car insurance while customers went online to obtain quotes, the majority still spoke to an agent in-person or over the phone to make a purchase. Only 25 percent of those checked insurer and marketplace websites. Offline sales still matter a lot.
Technology cannot fully replace agents, especially right now because, while consumers get convenience and speed from a digital platform, they can only get a personalized touch from a human. They want customization which only an agent can arrange. Agents understand their customers. They know what their customers are looking for from their insurance. They can also answer any question, no matter how complex it might be, and assure consumers that they are in good hands.
Forming a Relationship with Clients
The customer’s expectations of what they will get with an agent have changed. Aside from in-person contact, they also want to be able to connect to their agent via e-mail, instant message, and video calls whenever and wherever they want.
There is a need for agents to also be able to provide service through multiple channels. It matters because customers want to get the most out of their insurance and, therefore, expect that they will be able to talk to their agent and get what they need at all times.
Agents will need to be trained to respond through multiple channels, including digital.
Technology is changing the way insurance is being sold by insurers and purchased by consumers. Much like any other product on the market, consumers can purchase the insurance that they need online. However, people are still wary about purchasing insurance over the internet. They still demand a human touch. Although they look at their options and compare offers online, they complete a purchase in-person or over the phone with an agent. They want the assurance that in case they need help, they are in good hands.