In the last 20 to 30 years as technology has developed, the insurance industry has seen huge changes on just about every level. A roomful of actuaries scribbling with sharpened pencils has been replaced with the hum of a computer. Filing cabinets full of paper have been converted to a few bytes of information. In-person visits to sign documents are now emailed requests completed remotely on a smartphone.
Using technology, an educated consumer can get multiple quotes in minutes, manage a claim from start to finish, or even file a complaint about an insurance company through their state insurance commission.
With so many opportunities available to consumers that are literally at their fingertips, where do agents fit in?
Technology and Agents
Insurance agents have always taken on many roles, and several are more important now than ever—thought partner, advisor, translator, and advocate, to name a few. The biggest changes are how you go about performing them and what you communicate.
One of the most useful tasks you can perform is to help your clients think through what they actually need. Take auto coverage, for example.
Auto policies have a lot of bells and whistles these days. Maybe your client has never had roadside coverage on their policy, but their vehicle is getting older. It might be time to explain the benefits. Or say you live in a metropolitan area that is growing rapidly, and you know there’s been a spike in fender-bender claims. They might appreciate knowing how little it costs to add rental car coverage to their policy, especially if the body shops in their area have wait times, and they may not be able to get their car fixed quickly.
In the thought-partner role, you’re making sure your client is aware of different coverages and sharing information about each one of them.
As a trusted advisor, you’re not just sharing information, you’re also sharing your knowledge and experience. Being a trusted advisor means taking it a step further with advice to help your clients make good decisions.
Let’s say you have a client who is the primary breadwinner for her family, which includes a young child with a disability. Instead of taking out a life insurance policy equivalent to several times her income, you might push her to consider a multiple of up to 20 times her income. This way, in the event of her death, her husband could invest the payout conservatively so the family could live off the interest, and he could continue being the fulltime caregiver for their child instead of having to work outside the home.
For the average consumer who thinks about insurance as little as possible, the difference between things like comprehensive and collision coverage may be murky. And as insurance companies become more clever about using terminology that disguises what is NOT covered, your role as a translator is even more important.
You can also explain concepts like how credit scores and other consumer ratings play a part in rate quotes, how the number and dollar amount of claims in your area will affect future rates, etc. You speak insurance in a way they don’t, so you can be a huge help when it comes to translating information.
The role of advocate can be multifaceted. You can help clients take advantage of cost reductions they may not know about, like early-shopper discounts. You can offer advice about the best way to submit a claim. You can step in when they have an issue with an adjuster. And you can do things like share information about how to clear brush around homes in forested environments to lessen the possibility of fire.
When your client knows you are in their corner, that’s something an algorithm can never provide. And a machine will never be able to have a conversation with a client and intuit what matters to them most to them by reading their face or vocal expressions.
So don’t fear losing your place to technology. Instead, become an insurance agent who understands how to use it to become even more valuable to your clients. Your personal experience is what can create and perpetuate loyal, long-time customers.
One way that Hometown Quotes uses technology is to prequalify insurance shoppers in real-time so you get the freshest leads available. Give us a call at 800.820.2981 to learn more.