Consumers and insurers alike may be online and virtualized and digitized to the hilt, but when it comes to locking in policy sales, the personal touch still matters a great deal, apparently. For the insurance industry, brokers and agents add value and build key relationships with customers that websites still can't touch.

That's the conclusion of a recent study conducted and published by the IBM Institute for Business Value and the I.VW Institute of Insurance Economics of the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. Survey researchers gathered the responses of 8,592 consumers and 1,360 intermediaries—captive or independent agents and brokers working with one or many insurers—from 17 countries globally.

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