Key Points for Agents of the Future
It is obvious now that the fallout from COVID has impacted the insurance industry and specifically, what is expected from agents of the future from their clients. Here are the main points of the article:
Surviving COVID-19 as a Local Agent
How COVID-19 Will Change Insurance Sales
In his article, “How COVID-19 Will Change Insurance Sales”, Chris Burand makes this point:
“Going forward then, I believe we have an inflection point where business owners will better appreciate agents who actually know what coverages are being sold and what exposures are not being covered. The larger and more sophisticated clients will be the most demanding, but I suspect the small businesses that survive will be far more demanding, too.”
Surviving COVID-19 as a local insurance agent means changes right now. The “inflection point” is now and your clients have already shifted their buying behavior.
Clearing Insurance Agency Inefficiencies
What is your core value and how are you delivering it and refining it….
Michael Furlong focuses on, “enhancing the agent’s role as a risk expert” is his piece on “How to Boost the Role of Insurance Agents as Trusted Advisors”. Which of course, assumes the agent is a coverage expert.
“In today’s competitive business environment, agents must be able to provide value to a client that they would not be able to get anywhere else through critical industry insights and specialized advice.”
He goes on to talk about how agencies often spend 30 minutes and more putting together the correct insurance applications. When you process 10, 20 or 70 policies a day, that adds up. Eventually, you can get to the place where there is hardly any time for marketing or sales, as you run the hamster wheel of the business.
Knowing Your Risk
Agents are going to need to know their risks even deeper than they did before. COVID, however, puts up even more barriers to that happening.
Chris Burand shared a situation that would be funny if not for the consequences:
“I know one agent who wrote a property policy on the wrong address which resulted in the client having no coverage for a fire. He called the client and explained the situation – that no coverage existed – and for some reason, the insured “understood” and did not sue the agency.”
So, this is not about knowing your risks birthday and sending them a card. It is not about trolling Facebook and seeing when a baby is born to sell life insurance. This is about capturing risk information that drives your sales approach and delivers the client the best protection possible. This goes beyond even a great CSR interview at policy onboarding.
Sometimes, providing a better insurance experience, is about doing something that you used to do. Visiting the risk…at least virtually…and knowing your client better.
Agents Are Not Leveraging Loss Control
Agents do not do inspections. They used to. Not anymore.
In the past, the agent visited their policies to sell them. They built the relationship through in-person connections and often were very aware of the details of the client’s exposures.
Over the years, agents have become more removed from visiting each risk they write and typically are not doing the inspection themselves. The inspection is turfed out to a vendor if it is done at all.
So, the inspection has become a part of the underwriting process and not part of the sales process.
The agent has lost control over the inspection and the opportunities it offers.
Inspections: What Is In It For You?
The agent can complete an inspection themselves OR they can do a self-service inspection. Here are the benefits of adding inspections to your submission:
Taking Inspections Out of The Underwriting Process
Traditional inspections take 30-40 days to get back to the underwriter. That means there is a possibility that as the agent, you will need to have some hard conversations about the risk with your client. This is a big pain point in the customer experience.
This pain point is built into the underwriting process. The vendor loss control report is delivered to the underwriter who determines and approves the recommendations and the changes which need to be made to the policy. This happens with often lengthy back and forth with the agent. Once this is complete, it comes to the agent having to communicate the news to the client. Possible issues are:
- Cancelation of policy
- Premium increase
- Exclusions placed on coverage
- Change of building values
This is a very reactive response. What would have happened if the realities of the risk were discussed before the submission was even sent?
The same news could have been delivered proactively at the point of sale by the agent.
Then the issues are brought forward and the problem now becomes an opportunity for the agent to counsel the client on how to improve their risk protection. The best outcome is that the client sees the wisdom of the agents direction and makes the changes. The worst outcome is the customer walks away from the policy because they do not want to mitigate their exposure.
Agent Led Self-Service Inspections
Insuretech and the comfort with apps and self-service has opened up more engagement points for agents.
Self-service inspections offer multiple solutions to engage the client to complete the inspection. It takes you 2 minutes to invite a client!
COVID has changed the landscape around nurturing clients and generating new leads. You probably are always looking for new ways to connect and fill your sales funnel.
How many web articles have you read about how to connect with more leads and your clients? Inspections are a great way to connect with a client.
It does not even need to be a formal inspection, like at inception or renewal. You can do “inspections” for special situations. For example, something seasonal, like solid fuel burners. What about 6 month check in on commercial cooking. You can also do trending topics such as outdoor dining installations and the resulting liability exposure.
Need another reason?
The value of your submission is multiplied when it is accompanied with a self-service inspection report which clearly shows the quality and operational fundamentals of the risk…or lack thereof. This sets the stage for underwriting conversations or follow up with a traditional field inspector who is visiting the site now with a punch list of items which need to be resolved.
Why Self-Service Improves the Customer Experience
Self-service inspections are successful because they provide an app or other media that guides the client through collecting just the right amount of information. It should be easy to use, understand and complete. A great self-service app will not only collect information but also, educate the client on basic best practices.
Self-service around inspections enhances the customer experience. Instead of the inspection being a disconnected and random experience for the client, it becomes a choreographed step in the customer journey. It is also a step which is now controlled by and provides benefits directly to the agent.