At the beginning of this year, Deloitte released its predictions for the insurance industry. Topping the list of priorities was the need to “expand digital distribution and virtual service to cut costs and gain competitive advantages.”[i]
Insurers Selling Exclusively Through Independent or Captive Agents Need to Augment Their Channel Strategy with D2C
It’s a typical scenario across the P&C insurance industry. A customer seeks a quote, but instead of closing on the coverage, looks toward other insurers for a better price.
Twitter feeds of industry influencers lit up about ZhongAn’s recent $1.5 billion stock offering. There was a feeling in the air that the P&C insurance industry had finally turned a corner, reaching for direct-to-consumer distribution with open arms.
According to McKinsey, the goal in establishing a sound digital strategy is to simply meet customers’ expectations.[i]
Hurricane Harvey hit Texas with a blast in early September. Not to be outdone, Irma slammed the coast of Florida sixteen days later and moved inland with devastating speed. Close on her heels, Jose hit the Leeward Isles and Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, both eyeing the eastern seaboard with hungry intensity.
The difference from one year to the next can be astounding. Just compare surveys of independent agents from the end of 2015, with the same survey taken a year later at the end of 2016. Industry outlook improved significantly as 49% felt positive about the year 2017,[i] compared to only 33% for 2016.[ii]
Captive agents are calling on carriers to deliver stronger digital capacity and greater product choice as their share of premiums continues to decline.[i] Lacking the products and tools they need to compete with digitally-superior insurers, it’s a tough go for many captives in today’s market, but it could be a lot easier with the right capabilities and offerings.
Digitization and product choice. That’s the future of P&C insurance. Just look at recent reports from CB Insights on the InsurTech partnerships taking place across the industry. The majority of alliances, such as Allstate and Openbay, have been forged to enhance product selection, or in the case of Nationwide and Sure, to add digital capacity to an existing product lineup.
In reading recent reports on InsurTech, it was heartening to see the number of insurers that have chosen to gain the market-leading capabilities and tools they need to succeed by partnering with innovators.[i],[ii] Many of the major insurers on the list are seeking differentiation, focused on augmenting their product lineup with a new offering, such as State Farm’s and Allstate’s partnerships with Openbay to provide non-collision auto repair services.[iii] Others are expanding distribution through a new channel such as an app.[iv]