The insurance industry is being rapidly transformed by digital technology. Agents who hope to thrive will have to adapt to new challenges and new business practices.
In recent years, the insurance industry has seen a barrage of disruptive technologies, from AI-powered chatbots to full-service apps for health and life insurance. In a business as tradition-bound as insurance, it’s been a challenge for some established carriers to adapt to these developments.
Insurance agents are also caught up in this transition, forced to quickly familiarize themselves with the new apps and programs — or find themselves losing clients to nimbler competitors. Fortunately, independent agents are responding with urgency. A recent survey undertaken by the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) on digital transformation throughout the industry found that 70% of independent agents have taken steps to incorporate new tech tools in their practices.
The challenge for agents isn’t just adopting these tools, but blending them with traditional insurance practices. With these four tips to making the most of emerging capabilities, agents will be better positioned to leverage digital technology for the benefit of their business.
1. Build Lasting Relationships
While consumers are increasingly embracing new platforms, at the end of the day, they still want to talk to you in the flesh. When insurance technology provider Vertafore surveyed 1,200 consumers about their insurance buying preferences, 60% said that they’d prefer speaking with an agent because they believe that a digital-only platform would automatically reject their coverage request. Ultimately, prospects and clients still need human intuition to help them find the right insurance protection for their risks.
As a result, you need to make relationship-building the cornerstone of your outreach efforts and use digital tools to deepen client communications. If your digital marketing message rests solely on offering the least expensive coverage, for example, you’ll lose clients as soon as they find an even lower price. Use technology to engage with clients and prospects on a personal level, rather than using it as a substitute for professional, substantive interaction.
2. Hop on New Digital Marketing Platforms
In today’s digital world, simply having a website, a Facebook page, and an email marketing program isn’t enough. You need a presence on as many channels as possible, including Instagram and YouTube. If you’re not sure how to market yourself on those platforms, take the time to educate yourself on how to shoot and edit videos for YouTube or craft a message specifically for Instagram. Carriers have also been pushing their agents to hop on the digital marketing bandwagon, so don’t be afraid to reach out for assistance. Alternatively, you can do what many carriers have done and find an insurtech partner of your own; you don’t have to travel the road to digital optimization alone.
3. Brand Yourself
Social media is a great platform for marketing your business, but it’s easy to get lost in the chatter of texts, tweets, and competing advertisements. To stand out from the crowd, create your own distinct brand by emphasizing your insurance expertise, reputation in the community, and personalized customer service. Hire a social media manager to tout your brand if you can’t do it all yourself. Insurtech startups have built their success partially on their ability to brand themselves, and there’s no reason you can’t do the same.
4. Start Preparing Now
The digital revolution has begun, so waiting even another day to adapt will only leave you behind the eight ball. Research and experiment with technology, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way. It may even be wise to enroll in training courses so that you’re as comfortable with new platforms as possible. Before making an investment in particular technology, read reviews and contact industry peers who have been early adopters — that way you know you’re working with systems that will be a value add for your team.
No matter how advanced it becomes, digital technology isn’t going to replace insurance agents. These tools can, however, make the job of an insurance agents easier and more efficient. By putting in the time and energy now to make these capabilities useful in the future, agents can be better prepared to deliver on their most important task — serving clients.