Independent agents (IAs) are the dominant distribution channel for US P&C insurers. In 2013, they generated 58 percent of all P&C premiums and 49 percent of life premiums.
But at the same time, the IA channel faces significant challenges:
- Industry consolidation. Private equity firms and large brokerages are buying up agencies and creating larger ones. Continued M&A activity will increase pressure on smaller agencies.
- Aggressive digital marketing. Several large carriers are spending more than $1 billion in marketing, making it difficult for IAs to be noticed on traditional media channels.
- Distribution disruption. Accenture research found that 67 percent of customers would consider buying insurance from non-industry players—businesses like Google, Walmart and auto manufacturers.
- Demand for omni-channel interactions. An IA’s ability to offer top-notch customer service has been eroded by increasing customer expectations for omni-channel interactions—a capability that is made more complex as IAs deal with multiple carriers.
In light of these challenges, what do IAs want and need, and how can insurers support and optimize this distribution channel? Over the course of this eight-part series, I’ll highlight key findings of the Accenture 2014 Independent Agent Survey. Join me next week as I look at IAs’ top priorities.