April 20, 2021
How to Combat the Perception of Insurance as a Commodity
Consumers are most inclined to purchase products from platforms that save them money and are simple to use. Insurtech platforms seek to take advantage of this by leveraging technological savviness in markets that, historically, have not been subject to disruptive technological advancements. This disruption has led to a distinct shift in how insurance products are viewed. What was once an industry governed by relationships, product knowledge and market access has evolved into one driven by price and the simplicity of the service provided. These industry changes are causing many consumers to view insurance as a mere commodity. While this may be a trend in the industry, we all know each policy and carrier is unique in the coverage they provide and in their underwriting and claims processes.
So how can insurance agents challenge the perception of insurance as a commodity? By actively engaging in consumer education efforts, emphasizing the differences in policy coverages and leveraging your product knowledge in tandem with technological developments, we believe insurance agents can solidify the need for an expert level resource in providing these complex product offerings to consumers. In this week’s blog post, we break down why consumers may view insurance as a commodity and provide you with the tools needed to combat this growing trend.
Why is Insurance Viewed as a Commodity?
There are multiple factors that have contributed to the perception of insurance as a commodity. For starters, digitization of the insurance purchasing process allows consumers to purchase coverage online, sometimes without ever speaking to an agent. Without a dedicated insurance agent consulting buyers on which coverage is right for them, consumers naturally focus on price as the primary buying factor.
Additionally, the insurance industry itself has been pushing price as the sole distinguishing factor between policies. For example, consider the advertising campaigns for Geico and Progressive, two industry titans with a combined market share of 25%. We’re all familiar with Geico’s tagline “15 minutes can save you 15% or more on car insurance”, a phrase that has been embedded into our brains as a result of millions of dollars of advertising. This slogan perfectly captures the mindset of many major carriers that price is the only thing distinguishing them from the competition. Progressive’s “name your price” advertising campaign further cements the idea that insurance is a commodity. By focusing solely on low prices in their multi-million dollar advertising campaigns, insurance companies insinuate that price is the only difference between insurance policies from different carriers.
How Can Insurance Agents Challenge the Perception of Insurance as a Commodity?
Having consumers view insurance as a commodity might be good for retail carriers, but it doesn’t do much good for independent agencies competing with large retail-direct insurance companies. Obtaining insurance is a big deal, and insurance agents perform the important function of guiding consumers through the buying process to ensure they obtain the coverage that is right for them. By following the below guidelines, insurance agents can reshape the narrative of insurance as a commodity, and ensure their customers obtain the coverage they need.
Play an Active Role in the Buying Process
As an insurance agent, your customers rely on you to help guide them through the buying process. While it might be tempting to service as many customers as you can and as quickly as possible, it is more beneficial for both your business and the consumer to spend the time ensuring each customer understands each step of the buying process. Your main selling points are your customer service and expertise in the policies you issue. Lean into these attributes by guiding your customers through each step of the buying process, and showing them why they made the right decision in using an agent rather than purchasing their coverage online directly through a carrier.
Educate Your Customers
Educating your customers on the differences between policies is crucial to combating the trend of viewing insurance as a commodity. As mentioned above, big carriers have spent millions of dollars to convince consumers to focus solely on price. It is your job as an agent to help your customers understand the additional factors at play when it comes to purchasing insurance. Your customers might think they know what they need, but as an expert in your field you can provide much needed context and information to ensure your customers are making informed purchases. So what’s the best way to do this? Well, a conversation goes a long way and spending the time to really understand the specific needs of each customer and advising them on which coverages may protect them from future losses is the best way to ensure your customers’ needs are being met. Additionally, creating visual aids and providing easy to understand brochures on key policy differences can help your customer grasp the points you are making.
Focus on the Risks
Your customer is purchasing insurance to protect themselves from financial harm in the event an unforeseen event were to occur. Consumers who purchase coverage online are not provided the same level of risk analysis provided by an insurance agent. The face to face customer interactions allows agents to better help their customers recognize the risks facing them and their businesses and then hone in on the specific policies that best suit their needs. In the event an accident were to occur, your customer will be grateful their insurance agent spent the time ensuring their needs were met. By focusing on the risks facing your customers, you are helping them understand that when it comes to insurance it is not about getting the best deal, but rather obtaining the best coverage.
Personalize Your Sales Approach
Big carriers allow customers to buy coverage with a few simple clicks at the lowest possible price, so wouldn’t it make sense to just ditch agents altogether? Absolutely not! Buying insurance is a very important decision with potentially huge ramifications if the right coverage is not obtained. Don’t solely rely on sales scripts or rehearsed talking points, but rather get to know each customer on a personal level. Chances are new customers aren’t well versed in the different policy coverages available, and rely on their agent to advise them. By personalizing your sales approach to focus on the specific needs of your customers. You are providing consumers with a crucial service that no algorithm could ever replicate, expert advice and guidance tailored to fit their needs.
Leverage Available Technology
You can’t battle technology, and you shouldn’t want to either. It is true that technology plays a big role in why consumers view insurance as a commodity, but it can also help you combat this perception. By leveraging carrier technologies and relying on wholesale brokers with easy to use platforms for obscure product lines (like BondExchange), agents can take advantage of the benfits of technology while maintaining their personilized sales approach.
What Does the Future Hold for the Insurance Industry?
People will always need insurance, it is what allows us to conduct business and engage in many aspects of our daily lives. No matter how convenient the buying process becomes or how much money carriers spend to advertise their low prices, one fact will never change; People need insurance agents to help guide them through the intricacies of the insurance industry. Your job as an insurance agent is very important. You ensure your customers are protected in the event an accident were to occur, and make sure they make it out okay in whatever situation they are facing. It may at times seem that the industry is trending towards further automation, but by providing expert level product knowledge and engaging with customers you can leverage technology in a way that enhances the insurance purchasing experience rather than driving it to the lowest common denominator: price.
How Can an Insurance Agent Obtain a Surety Bond?
BondExchange makes obtaining a surety bond easy. Our thoroughly developed online system was built for insurance agents like you. Simply login to your account and use our keyword search to find your bond in our database. Don’t have a login? Enroll now and let us help you satisfy your customers’ needs. Our friendly underwriting staff is available by phone (800) 438-1162, email or chat from 7:30 AM to 7:00 PM EST to assist you.