The future of direct quoting and insurance agents
By Justin R. Brown
In recent years, there has been a rush by the insurance industry and most other businesses to establish a presence on the Internet. That is because the World Wide Web offers a number of benefits for businesses of all kinds. For those in the insurance industry, the Internet is perhaps the best place to secure insurance leads.
Gone are the days when businesses were limited to only those customers who could come into their brick-and-mortar stores during business hours. Now people in different cities, or even in different countries, can visit a company’s website and order products or services. The transaction can be made any time of the day or night. Companies that do business online can reach a much wider audience quicker and more efficiently than businesses that operate from a storefront. Plus, they are able to eliminate a lot of their overhead and reduce the number of employees needed to do business.
The rise of direct quoting
For many companies in the insurance industry, the move to the Internet has meant switching primarily to a direct quoting model of doing business, where customers request quotes online, get them back in their email, and then click on a link that allows them to purchase a policy. With this model of doing business, customers typically find the company through Google searches or campaigns initiated by insurance companies going after insurance leads via social media and email campaigns. Because this model is such a lucrative one, there are plenty of "direct writer" insurance companies out there. Progressive and Geico are two of the largest.
Overall, direct insurance providers tend to offer the most competitive rates and the largest variety of insurance discounts. So what is the future for insurance agents as carriers appear to be ramping up insurance lead marketing direct to their websites?
The future of insurance agents
The good news is those who stick it out in the industry are actually seeing their value increase rather than diminish. This is because consumers are starting to realize they take on a level of risk they may be uncomfortable with when they buy insurance policies direct. To help make their customers feel more comfortable about their online purchase, most direct providers have agents in place throughout the nation, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to answer questions.
Insurance is a complicated subject, and those who work with an agent have the benefit not only of the agent’s knowledge of the industry, but of having a legal representative advocating for them. If there are any hidden surprises, a licensed agent is the one equipped to know what they are; and because he or she is licensed by the state — and carries the fiduciary responsibility to be the customer’s advocate — customers can be confident their best interests are being considered.
One final thought on the future of the industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2010, which is the most updated information presently available, there were 411,500 insurance agents in the United States. Despite the assumed decline in the number of agents once direct quoting became more commonplace, the Bureau projects that over the next 10 years employment of insurance agents will actually grow by about 22 percent.