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Preserving the Human Element in the Digital Age of Insurance

by Precise Leads

August 16, 2016

Although online insurance sales increasingly rely on automation, agents shouldn’t underestimate the power of the personal touch.

As artificial intelligence (A.I.) software advances at an alarming rate, A.I.-driven products are becoming increasingly ubiquitous across industries, according to Wired. To the general public, of course, A.I. conjures up images of self-driving cars and Marvin-esque androids. For those in the insurance industry, however, where automated services have become increasingly prevalent, A.I. is not simply a futuristic possibility; it’s already an everyday reality.

When it comes to insurance sales, agents still have a vital role to play — but with the mounting tide of digitized services, it is essential that they take cues from this trend in order to remain competitive.

The Rise of AI in The Insurance Agency

Considering PwC’s finding that 80% of life insurance purchases begin online, it seems only natural that insurance would be among the industries most impacted by the advent of A.I. These automated processes provide consistent, efficient, and cost-effective service 24/7, allowing agencies to boost online sales across the board. The efficacy of automated services speaks for itself — as LinkedIn contributor Daniel Marlin points out, A.I.’s impressive ability to help improve conversion rates “will shift the current trend in online sales from a conversion-centric paradigm, into one that focuses on reaching as many relevant people as possible” — an aim furthered by an effective and forward-thinking lead generation strategy.

Despite this technology’s potential, some in the industry see it as a direct threat to the existing insurance infrastructure and, in turn, their own livelihoods. Will highly efficient, automated processes eliminate the need for agents altogether?

Maintaining the Human Touch

In short, the answer is no. Although A.I. is inarguably an important asset to any insurance agency looking to remain competitive in the future, live agents still play an essential, irreplaceable role. But what advantages do agents have over their A.I. counterparts?

Despite the convenience of A.I. assistance, when it comes to actually buying a plan, 63% of consumers prefer to speak with a live agent before going through with their purchase. Although A.I. provides a streamlined service, there’s no denying that insurance shoppers still prefer speaking with an agent when making delicate decisions surrounding their and their loved ones’ assets. 

After all, insurance is a personal product. Faced with the possibility of future disaster — or in the aftermath of one — buyers seek out a human element in what might otherwise seem an impersonal process. The point is, an automated service can never replace the empathy and reason of a real agent.

How to Strike a Balance

All of this is not to say that agencies shouldn’t consider implementing A.I. into their existing sales strategies. In order to remain competitive, it’s essential to take cues from the automation trend while still championing live agents. According to PropertyCasualty360, agents should aim to strike a balance; it is essential, for instance, to use these automated processes for enhancement, not replacement — that is, to improve the system in place, not to replace the people who run it.

Although business is a numbers game, insurance sales are predicated on relationships. With this in mind, agents have good reason to be optimistic about their future, automation or otherwise.

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