Specialists have been predicting the demise of the insurance coverage agent for some time now—nearly since I first entered this enterprise over 30 years in the past.
Whereas the direct channel has taken vital share over this time, brokers nonetheless personal the lion’s share of the market and stay indispensable for insurance coverage. Let’s look briefly at some Accenture knowledge on the non-public auto and home-owner marketplace for proof.
Direct share in auto insurance coverage has plateaued. Direct distribution gained 10 factors share within the final 20 years, rising from 20% market share to roughly 30% in the present day. However it has gained just one level of share within the final seven years. In owners’ insurance coverage, the direct channel has gained 9 factors of share within the final 20 years, and solely two factors of share within the final seven years
The company channel noticed its auto market share decline 15 factors throughout this time, whereas its share of house owners dropped 16 factors. Of observe, company share declined quicker than direct grew in each strains. The steadiness of share went to “different” distribution channels equivalent to banks, different types of retail, and partnerships—lots of which contain an area distribution footprint.
Inside the company channel, unbiased brokers have fared a bit higher than unique brokers, dropping solely six factors in auto whereas sustaining the identical share of house owners (extra on this in a future weblog).
Information from Accenture’s biannual world monetary companies shopper examine additionally means that demand and satisfaction for brokers is strong throughout insurance coverage. Customers’ prime three preferences for interactions are: 1) reside phone, 2) on-line service, and three) in-person. Different types of interplay equivalent to smartphone apps, instantaneous messaging and automatic telephone channels path nicely behind.
Likewise, shoppers are typically glad with the service they obtain from brokers with 75% reporting they’re both glad or very glad in 2020, up from 73% in 2018.
If brokers are actually on the verge of extinction, somebody ought to inform insurance coverage shoppers.
The results of all that is that unique and unbiased brokers nonetheless management about 80% of the home-owner market and 65% of the non-public auto market. Even the impression of COVID-19 doesn’t seem to have accelerated a shift into the direct channel, based mostly on early outcomes.
This raises an essential query for understanding the trade in the present day and its future course.
Why have brokers been so resilient within the face of all of the digital change and enterprise mannequin innovation fueling the predictions of a direct-dominated future?
The human contact in a digital world
All of it comes right down to shopper desire. Whereas the record of issues a hypothetical buyer may worth in a services or products is of infinite theoretical size, you possibly can type that record into three classes:
- Purposeful—what does it do for me?
- Emotional—how does it make me really feel?
- Private and social impression – What does it do to me and to society?
Direct distribution and digital innovation are each nice at delivering practical values equivalent to saving time, saving cash, or making duties simpler. People and the company mannequin are higher on the others—notably the emotional values equivalent to offering a way of security or safety.
Particularly, expertise tends to drive enchancment within the practical class. Higher tech saves us time, simplifies complexity, helps us keep away from problem, and lowers the trouble required to do a given job. It could actually even have some knock-on results that attain into the emotional class by decreasing our anxiousness and making us really feel rewarded.
However a lot of the emotional class, and all the non-public and social impression class, are the area of people. This isn’t to say that tech has no position in serving to people fulfill these shopper calls for, however the core of the expertise requires a human contact.
Moreover, and maybe most significantly, as clients’ wants enhance in complexity, they appear to choose the consolation of figuring out an agent is on the market close by within the occasion one thing goes unsuitable, even when most of their interactions with the company are over the telephone.
And that, in my opinion, is why brokers are nonetheless with us—and shall be for the foreseeable future.
Which raises one other essential query about the way forward for the trade: how can carriers ship shoppers one of the best of each worlds?
We’ll discover this wealthy matter in my subsequent submit. Within the meantime, in case you’d like to speak in regards to the stunning endurance of the agent or any a part of the trade, I might love to listen to from you.
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