Pivoting Back: Insurance Agents Remain Invaluable

This piece is by Afficiency Chief Revenue Officer Jim Reboin Jim Reboin, Chief Revenue Officer of Afficiency, an insurtech transforming the end-to-end life insurance buying process by leveraging technology and building cutting-edge digital products. It builds a case for the insurance agent, with the human touch making a difference that AI can never really match.

According to LIMRA, almost 90% of the life insurance market is still sold by independent and affiliated agents compared to only 6% sold direct-to-consumer (DTC). At the pandemic’s onset, digital carrier platforms and web portals were widely updated and accepted by the industry. But the rise of insurtech does not mean the fall of insurance agents. Insurtechs understand the importance of leveraging digital tools to empower insurance agents to maintain the human touch.

The agent’s integral role. Pre-pandemic, agents traditionally met consumers face-to-face or worked through a call center model where interested consumers talked to agents one-on-one about products and services before going through an insurability pre-screening process. Agents then offered consumers the best product(s) from their portfolio.

During the last three years, our industry witnessed multiple disruptions to this model. The pandemic undeniably accelerated innovation with a push toward digitalization and breakthrough products. Those platforms with sophisticated IT and analytics capabilities already in place benefited immediately.

While the pandemic impacted agents’ roles, they haven’t completely changed. Agents’ expertise remains integral to overall success. The relationship between an agent and the client has always been important and this remains true. Life insurance is a very personal decision, and many consumers can find the process overwhelming or confusing. The guiding hand of an agent, providing advice and counsel, is often well-regarded by many consumers.

Anytime, anywhere. What has changed during these last few years is how agents interface and communicate with consumers. Seeing unrivaled possibilities, insurtech mavericks quickly invested and found partners who offered a dual-facing digital experience. Agents pivoted quickly, selling and taking applications over the phone, initially updating the traditional paperwork process.

Other agents shifted more radically: they successfully leveraged technology to do their jobs better by accessing digitally underwritten life insurance products while connecting with consumers through multiple channels such as website dashboards, portals and Zoom. This sudden pivot would never have been possible even five years ago. Cloud-based computing has created these unparalleled opportunities within the insurance ecosystem. Our sector now enjoys seamless integration of sales, online enrollment, real-time support and advice, and interactive engagement throughout customer journeys.

How a multichannel approach improves the life insurance agent experience:

Enhanced pay experience plus reduced journey cycle time.

By investing more money in straight-through processing and using AI and machine learning to enable real-time underwriting, instant policy issuance, claims, and other back-office functions, insurtechs can continually enhance the consumer journey with little or no manual intervention. Agents can issue policies within minutes and have their commission deposited within 24 hours, a win for everyone.

Promoting self-serve options. Insurtechs have received the call to action to build self-serve options where consumers can move forward without agent assistance. It’s no secret that many consumers know what they want. They’re comfortable with independently going through the self-serve journey. Other consumers start the process online but have questions requiring agent intervention and guidance. Building in a call center option — even in the digital age –becomes essential to helping those consumers unable to navigate the self-serve path. For example, through this multi-channel approach, agents can use an agent assist portal to meet the consumer where they are in the enrollment process by pulling up their profile within the portal to better understand and address individual concerns.

Insurtech leaders should understand the way consumers relate with their organization and how they want to buy life insurance. Staying in business in the next five years requires the ability to serve customers across different channels and means of engagement, a capability that also allows a higher conversion rate for the funnel overall. One way this difference can be achieved is by adopting an omnichannel approach to serving customers that empowers agents to improve the overall consumer experience.

Indeed, despite the move to digital, research continues to show people still depend on agents’ expertise when purchasing life insurance. In the insurance ecosystem, agents remain invaluable subject matter experts who continue to help consumers better understand products, strategize and achieve their ultimate protection goals.

About alastair walker 11422 Articles
20 years experience as a journalist and magazine editor. I'm your contact for press releases, events, news and commercial opportunities at Insurance-Edge.Net

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