Like it or not, the way insurance is distributed is changing. While traditional distribution methods will always exist, carriers can't afford to be rigid when choosing how to bring products to market. Consumers now expect a wide range of choices in how they purchase products and services - even very complex products, as seen in recent surveys from Novarica and others. A growing segment of the market clearly is looking for other mechanisms to purchase insurance and access services, and there is little doubt that electronic distribution channels will continue to affect the insurance landscape.

It's clear that a multichannel environment is here. But for many carriers, what isn't clear is what channels are best for attracting new customers. For some, the risk of adding channels is more than they are ready to take on at this time. One thing is sure. Insurance soon will have to support many different channels, catering to a variety of customers using a range of tools at different points in their buying cycle. A carrier that doesn't consider its vulnerabilities and the opportunities arising from a multichannel environment stands a good chance of being surpassed by those that do.

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