We recently posted on the pressure new technologies – especially on-line/ mobile technologies – are having to blur lines between channels for insurers. Turns out some of that blurring working to the advantage of smaller insurers and independent distributors.
For example, Insurance & Technology recently noted that a relatively small organization, Plymouth Rock Assurance. a New England based regional insurer, was able to introduce an on-line facility – eSales – which allows customers to complete the quoting and binding of policies on-line directly with the company, but subsequently assign the results to one of its agents. While there has been some success with sales (200 policies with minimal marketing effort), Keith Jensen, chief marketing officer for Plymouth Rock believes that the real value comes from introducing customers to the independent agency experience, saying: “What’s really compelling is that there are 1,000 people who have quoted on our eSales tool and visited an agent thereafter.”
Mobile technology is an area that is potentially threatening to smaller, independent distribution carriers, but need not be. Chad Hersh, principal in the insurance practice at Novarica, writing in PropertyCasualty360.com, says, “Consumer expectations are growing and their general computing needs are going to be met by apps. … Will a big direct writer always have a better, snazzier app? Sure. Do consumers necessarily care about that? No, as long as they can get what they need to get done on the app, they are generally going to be happy.”
Hersh believes the critical element for smaller carriers is to act quickly. There is the potential for vendors to come up with package solutions. Hersh concludes: “There is always something that causes the smaller carriers to struggle to keep up with the larger carriers. This is not one of them. This is one of those things, that because of their size the larger carriers got into first because it wasn’t a big bill for them. It’s a low enough cost that anybody that wants to be a mobile leader can be.”