For many people, the arrival of the New Year heralds the promise of achieving bigger and better things, reaching new heights, and perhaps accomplishing things in the new year that weren’t done in the prior year. 2017 is going to mark a pivotal year for agents and brokers as InsurTech distributors really hit the marketplace with new ways of fulfilling customer sales and service expectations. Agency-carrier connectivity (upload, download, and portal) is a critical point for success on the path to being the digital agent both personal lines and commercial lines consumers expect. Depending on which path a distributor chooses, it can either be a happy New Year – or it can be a very un-Happy Year.

Unfortunately, SMA survey results show that many distributors have a long, arduous path ahead. Sixty-three percent of responders indicated they were mainstream investors in connectivity technology, not investing for differentiation, or not investing at all. This strategic and tactical direction needs to be reversed, or those distributors will likely face a very sad New Year’s Day in 2018. Small agents with under $1 million in premiums are in the most defensive position, with 67% believing the number one business driver for investing in connectivity technology was customer retention vs. 58% of agents with more than $1 million in premium indicating that same driver. In either case, given all the changes in distribution over the past several years, customer retention is a big deal.

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