Insurance is going through a digital revolution, and agents are on the frontline of the demand for change. Easier access to self-service insurance and growing customer expectations in a tech-led world are just some examples of the challenges driving the need for agent automation. And agents believe that insurers should be helping them navigate the changing tech landscape and support their customers.

Fortunately, tech also offers many opportunities for insurers to make things easier for their agents, from smart use of automation to smoother communication.

How tech is challenging the insurance status quo

There is a lot for insurers to be optimistic about when it comes to tech. But at the same time, the environment is changing rapidly, challenging the long-established relationships between insurers, agents, and customers. Here’s how.

More self-service options, allowing customers to access insurance services independently, for example through a website or phone app

More emphasis on direct insurer-customer relationships, using technology like communications apps to cut out the need for middlemen. In fact, more than 40% of insurance brokers see direct-to-consumer channels as a significant or major threat to their business.

More, and better, tools. 78% of customers say that the quality of online tools — good or bad — directly affects their choice of insurer.

The ability for insurers to use data to monitor which agents are doing well and which ones have potential, and make decisions accordingly

The ability to use data insights to find out which agents are best suited to build relationships with, based on factors like geographical location and sales opportunities

There are lots of changes to keep track of. So how can insurers take advantage of technology to support their agents?

More self-service options, allowing customers to access insurance services independently, for example through a website or phone app

More emphasis on direct insurer-customer relationships, using technology like communications apps to cut out the need for middlemen. In fact, more than 40% of insurance brokers see direct-to-consumer channels as a significant or major threat to their business.

More, and better, tools. 78% of customers say that the quality of online tools — good or bad — directly affects their choice of insurer.

The ability for insurers to use data to monitor which agents are doing well and which ones have potential, and make decisions accordingly

The ability to use data insights to find out which agents are best suited to build relationships with, based on factors like geographical location and sales opportunities

There are lots of changes to keep track of. So how can insurers take advantage of technology to support their agents?

How to improve the agent experience

Sharing of data

Insurers have access to a reservoir of customer data, and it’s highly valuable. 92% of insurers expect big data can help with pricing, underwriting, and risk selection, while 84% believe it can help with management decisions. By allowing agents to access data on customers and prospects, insurers can help them provide a better service.

Communication tools

49% of agents think insurers could communicate better to enable more responsiveness to claims and benefit needs. Technologies like online chat programs like Slack and phone apps create opportunities for insurers to communicate much more effectively and directly with their agents.

Machine learning and automation

Analysis of the time Agents take to perform tasks and whether or not they are effective can identify opportunities to speed the sales process for agents. For example Insurers can automate monotonous, routine tasks in areas such as underwriting and eliminate time by changing communication with agents from email to online chat. But they’ll also need to work harder to ensure their systems are in sync with agents.

Cybersecurity

Only 16% of policyholders believe their own cybersecurity approach is fully meeting their needs. Insurers can harness new technology and work more closely with cybersecurity providers, allowing their agents to deliver peace of mind and improved cybersecurity to customers.

How to improve the agent experience

Sharing of data

Insurers have access to a reservoir of customer data, and it’s highly valuable. 92% of insurers expect big data can help with pricing, underwriting, and risk selection, while 84% believe it can help with management decisions. By allowing agents to access data on customers and prospects, insurers can help them provide a better service.

Communication tools

49% of agents think insurers could communicate better to enable more responsiveness to claims and benefit needs. Technologies like online chat programs like Slack and phone apps create opportunities for insurers to communicate much more effectively and directly with their agents.

Machine learning and automation

Analysis of the time Agents take to perform tasks and whether or not they are effective can identify opportunities to speed the sales process for agents. For example Insurers can automate monotonous, routine tasks in areas such as underwriting and eliminate time by changing communication with agents from email to online chat. But they’ll also need to work harder to ensure their systems are in sync with agents.

Cybersecurity

Only 16% of policyholders believe their own cybersecurity approach is fully meeting their needs. Insurers can harness new technology and work more closely with cybersecurity providers, allowing their agents to deliver peace of mind and improved cybersecurity to customers.

The benefits of more agent automation

Both insurers and agents stand to gain a lot from advances in technology. But the biggest winners could be the customers themselves. Here’s what’s in it for them:

More attention and focus from agents who aren’t preoccupied with basic processing tasks

Better relationships and easier communication with agents using online tools

Faster pricing and quotes thanks to more accurate and readily available data

The ability to self-serve, accessing insurance services quickly and easily through online platforms while still being able to access agents for more in-depth support when required

There’s no question that technology is going to transform how the insurance industry works. It’s important for insurers to recognise this ongoing shift and leverage technology to work more effectively with their agents. If they can do this right, it could spell enormous benefits for both sides. If they don’t, they will be left behind.

The benefits of more agent automation

Both insurers and agents stand to gain a lot from advances in technology. But the biggest winners could be the customers themselves. Here’s what’s in it for them:

More attention and focus from agents who aren’t preoccupied with basic processing tasks

Better relationships and easier communication with agents using online tools

Faster pricing and quotes thanks to more accurate and readily available data

The ability to self-serve, accessing insurance services quickly and easily through online platforms while still being able to access agents for more in-depth support when required

There’s no question that technology is going to transform how the insurance industry works. It’s important for insurers to recognise this ongoing shift and leverage technology to work more effectively with their agents. If they can do this right, it could spell enormous benefits for both sides. If they don’t, they will be left behind.

We are Axe, a leading insurance solution provider helping our customers shift to meet their customers’ needs. We’ve built our reputation on having the most innovative and adaptable software in the market. So, if you’re wanting to change the rules, we should talk.