The virtual insurance advisor, where the agent experience is digitally replicated, emerges as an attractive alternative for a growing number of consumers.

As I discussed in the first blog in this series, our research into changing consumer attitudes indicates that five new models are emerging through which insurers can attract and engage customers craving personalized, real-time service that add value in their everyday lives.  No single model will fit all customers; instead, leading insurers may blend multiple emerging distribution models while continuing to transform their traditional distribution models to be more responsive to evolving customer needs.

The first of the business models that we see emerging is the Virtual Insurance Advisor. Insurers can make the insurance purchase easy for consumers by offering choice, advice and transparency through data-driven web and mobile advisory platforms.

Customers already expect that experiences will transcend traditional industry boundaries; the best experiences in one industry raise the bar for all other industries.  Insurers have a tremendous opportunity use data – digital, social, or provided by the customer – to target and acquire customers digitally, to consistently deliver an outstanding customer experience, and to provide personalized advice at scale. Our research indicates that 74 percent of consumers are very or somewhat willing to receive computer-generated advice about the type of insurance coverage to purchase.

In light of consumers’ willingness to consider computer-generated advice, many insurers will choose to offer mobile or website-based access to a virtual insurance advisor.  Some may also choose to enable a hybrid advice model in which agents are augmented with a virtual insurance advisor. Or the advisor could be employed as part of an ecosystem, with partners from other sectors of the economy. Accenture research found 40% of consumer respondents fit the Nomad pattern that I described in an earlier blog, meaning they are highly digital and ready for nontraditional channels for purchasing insurance. This is the fastest growing customer group and is well worth cultivating.

Next week we’ll discuss the “Everyday Risk Coach” insurance distribution model.

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