Our world is changing at an exponential rate; sometimes, agents feel as though they are drinking water from a fire hose, but successful agents recognize that agility is a requirement for such a rapidly shifting environment.
Consumers are more demanding and more connected, and they expect the ability to be able to transact their business from any place and at any time. The insurance industry, and agents in particular, must respond to this.
As our industry moves forward, agents and carriers must work together to provide a more robust internet presence. Agency websites must progress to the next level and provide more than merely an online brochure. Consumers expect the ability to access their insurance account information and be able to complete transactions for inquiry, making payments, making claims or obtaining new quotes from the agency website. Agents and carriers need to work together to provide this functionality for consumers.
Likewise, mobility is an expectation for today’s consumer. Agents should be providing mobile-ready sites and apps to provide service and sales support. Carriers can help by assisting agents with the effort and by providing the ability for agency apps and mobile sites to easily interface with the carrier system and provide a simple and transparent client experience. The use of a trust-framework is critical for our mutual success.
With web-based and mobile-based capabilities, our industry needs the ability to extend realtime interface capability for consumers to provide a seamless information exchange among carrier, agency and consumer devices. The banking industry has figured out how to make this happen, and certainly, with all of the smart people in the insurance industry, we can work together to make this happen as well. For far too long, our independence has made us incapable of easily transacting business among our partners, and now we must work together to improve our industry and provide a better consumer experience.
In the area of privacy and security, agents and carriers alike would benefit from the ability to provide protected communication paths for client information to be sent between agency and carrier systems, with the ability to maintain the thread of communication. This approach will help with more complex transactions and selling in the mid-commercial and Excess & Surplus marketing efforts.
As carriers develop their technology budget for the next few fiscal years, agent groups are recommending that funds be devoted to the above mentioned internet and mobile developments.
Angelyn Treutel is President of Southgroup Insurance and the chair of the IIABA Agents Council for Technology and ASCnet's Industry Solutions Committee.
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