Accenture’s survey of independent insurance agents—which revealed that agents’ top priority is retaining and servicing existing customers—has major implications for insurers involved with policy administration decisions.

Agents generated 58 percent of all P&C premiums (totaling $311 billion) in 2013.  While the partnership between agents and carriers has been mutually beneficial, IAs are also competing with the direct sales capabilities of the carriers with which they work.  As carriers have stepped up sales via the online channel, agents now see carriers’ direct solutions as the greatest challenge to their sustained profitability.

Carriers and IAs both want to optimize the agent channel.  Carriers can help agents by improving the speed and quality of claims processing, underwriting appetite and year-over-year pricing consistency.  But our research indicated agents see little value in carriers’ offers of support in the areas of marketing, operations, local market data insight and customer self-service.

Agents are resource-constrained, however. If they don’t lean more on carriers and if they’re not seeking to tap into offerings of industry associations—anther finding of our research—we believe that an industry utility (third-party provider) could fill the gap. A platform offering an integrated set of capabilities including AMS, CRM, and digital would reduce the complexity of sourcing specific capabilities for the agent, and help keep the IA channel strong well into the future.

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