- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

Personal Lines Distribution: Digital Capabilities Continue to Evolve and Expand

New SMA Blog by Mark Breading, Partner, Strategy Meets Action

Within the insurance industry, the personal lines sector has frequently been the pioneer in building and enhancing digital capabilities. With increasing demands from both policyholders and distribution partners for digital solutions, technology innovation was and remains imperative to both staying relevant and increasing market share. Simply put, insurers that do not continue to prioritize their digital capabilities risk being left behind or, even worse, becoming obsolete. Distribution partners, including retail agencies, brokers, wholesalers, or MGAs, are currently focused on two key areas – user experience and ease of doing business. They are looking to partner with insurers that reduce friction points, increase efficiencies, and provide self-service digital offerings to both agents and policyholders.

Furthermore, the channel strategies of personal lines carriers are continuing to evolve. A recent SMA Research report, “Channel Strategies and Plans for P&C Personal Lines: A View of Today’s Environment and What’s to Come,” highlights key channels that insurers plan to expand over the next several years, including InsurTechs, agents/brokers, and affinity partnerships. In order to examine the digital capabilities required to both support and expand these channel strategies, SMA recently surveyed carriers focused on the personal lines market. The research looked at the current state of digital capabilities offered to distribution partners, the technology and business/cultural roadblocks to digital adoption, and insurers’ future plans for building or enhancing new digital capabilities.

SMA’s research tracked fourteen different digital sales-oriented capabilities and eighteen servicing capabilities. Starting with a carrier’s satisfaction with the current state of offerings to their distribution partners and subsequently examining their future tech investment plans, this report provides an in-depth look at where the personal lines industry is today in terms of digital capabilities and where it is headed.

With respect to sales, insurers reported the least satisfaction in the areas of appetite and submissions. On the servicing side, where many personal lines insurers have historically focused on enhancing digital capabilities, satisfaction was higher. But satisfaction still varied based on capability, indicating that insurers recognize the need for further enhancement. When looking at future investment areas, self-service capabilities and the user experience of both the agent and policyholder are front and center.

The flurry of new channel strategies and digital projects clearly indicates that the pace of innovation within the personal line’s distribution space is not slowing down. Insurers must remain close to the evolving market and to changes in the needs and expectations of distribution partners. It’s an exciting time because there are numerous opportunities for growth, the potential to truly increase efficiencies, and the need to transform the user experience.

For more information on personal lines distribution expansion strategies, see our recent research report, “Distribution Technologies for Personal Lines: Carrier Progress and Plans.” SMA is also introducing a new research series with perspectives from the distributor viewpoint. A regular series of research reports will be published based on surveys and interviews of agencies, brokers, MGAs, and others in the distribution channel, including insights from ReSource Pro’s large footprint of distribution clients. Contact the author for more information on this new research and advisor services offerings for distribution.

About The Author

Mark is known for his insights on the future of the insurance industry and innovative uses of technology. Mark consults with insurers and technology companies on forward-thinking strategies for success in the digital age. His inventive methodologies, fresh ideas, creative conceptualizations, and ability to incorporate InsurTech and transformational tech in business strategies are unparalleled. He also leads SMA’s research program, publishing 25-30 research reports per year and conducting various custom research projects for insurer and vendor clients. His thought leadership in the areas of InsurTech, transformational technologies, customer experience, and digital strategies has earned him a ranking of one of the “Top Global Influencers in InsurTech” by InsurTech News and Onalytica and a place in the ten finalists for the “Top Global IoT in Insurance Influencer Award.”

Before joining SMA in 2009, Mark spent 25 years with IBM in roles including the Global Insurance Strategist and Director of Global Financial Services Executive Conferences in addition to leadership roles in consulting and marketing. Mark co-developed IBM’s Account Based Marketing program and led the global project office to implement ABM across all industry verticals worldwide. Mark has held both technical and business roles in sales, consulting, marketing, and business strategy and has advised insurers around the world for almost 30 years.

About SMA, a ReSource Pro company

Strategy Meets Action is an industry-leading strategic advisory firm delivering strategic insights, consulting services, and published research to carriers, solution providers, and InsurTech startups. The firm provides insights and guidance on business strategy, digital transformation, core systems and customer experience. Learn more about SMA at

SOURCE: Strategy Meets Action (SMA)