As insurance agents become more empowered by digital technologies, they write more policies through purely digital channels. Digital channels still require personal support, though—when agents have questions, they expect answers from carriers in real-time. The ability to quickly connect with underwriters or tech support is a crucial factor in an insurance agent’s decision to work with a particular carrier and submit new business. In a recent survey, 88% of independent agents said easy access to help was either very important (60%) or that they would not place business without it (28%).
The takeaway? Carriers who do not provide adequate access to support features in real-time could miss out on nearly a third of all opportunities when working with independent agents.
Most agents expect carriers to provide chat support functionality
Also revealed in the survey was the advantage of live chat support. 60% of agents surveyed cited its importance, with 40% saying that they would not place business without the availability of a chat feature. Given the preference for access to instant chat support, it’s surprising that 35% of carriers still do not offer it. The absence of this particularly useful real-time integration can weaken the relationship between agents and carriers, hindering growth.
Recently, the surge in interest around large language models has revealed new possibilities for drastically improved AI-enabled chat support. Even for carriers who currently offer chat support, it’s fair to anticipate major changes in agents’ expectations around the availability and quality of this feature.
Digital onboarding demonstrates the benefits for both carriers and agents
One area where carriers have already taken major steps to digitize the agent experience is onboarding, which can otherwise impose a significant burden on agents. Half of all carriers have deployed self-service digital onboarding, so it comes as little surprise that half of agents—presumably those still stuck with manual onboarding—say it remains an important area for insurers to improve.
Self-service digital onboarding is a clear example that not all agent assistance offered by carriers must be personal, but it must be easily accessible.
Comparative raters and APIs are important factors for growth
Participation in comparative raters is another key factor that influences an agent’s decision to work with a carrier. 71% of agents consider participation in comparative raters to be crucial. This is especially true for regional and monoline channels, where participation in digital platforms is key to remaining relevant in a rapidly evolving digital world.
To deliver a truly best-in-class agent digital experience, carriers can expose certain APIs in order to allow their agency partners to create their own customer-facing digital experiences that work across multiple carriers. This is an example of real-time integration where carriers can fully empower their agency partners, beyond simply providing personal or self-service support features.