When I first rolled into the insurance industry some 14 years ago as an experienced technology journalist, one of the most frequent messages I got from my fellow tech heads was that computer technology and commoditization of insurance products would eventually render the independent agent useless, and thus accelerate his or her demise. 

I recently wrote about the illusion that we sell static commodities, so I thought it only fitting that I address the other bogeyman—disintermediation. On its face, the idea that direct selling and sales/process automation would eventually obviate the need for the agents makes sense. Indeed, if we were selling widgets, the so-called “middle man” would long ago have gone the way of the dinosaur. But selling and servicing insurance is a great deal different than selling widgets.

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