Agents acting as trusted experts write the majority of insurance today. For the consumer, this requires an enormous delegation of trust, possible because the agent is not an anonymous face of an insurance company but someone they know. Agents are people in the community and may have sold to, and been personally trusted by, family members, friends and neighbors. This business model is now under threat, with consumers less connected to their communities and many not living in the same town as their families. The biggest threat, however, is the Internet, which has fundamentally changed the way people prefer to buy, and while this applies to most products, the trend is now reaching insurance.

There are examples aplenty of companies that failed to adapt. Blockbuster failed to recognize that busy people forgetting to return videos was not a high-profit-margin piece of business but rather an opportunity for Netflix. Borders relied on consumers wanting to browse books and leaf through dust jackets in a comfortable environment. It did not catch on fast enough that some customers simply wanted to buy a book, a function ably supplied by Amazon.

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