Surviving the Pandemic: Survey Shows That Indy Agencies Must Learn To Navigate COVID-19

business meetingA national survey of Big “I” agencies by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”) revealed that COVID-19 has impacted and continues to impact independent insurance agencies. Of the agencies surveyed:

  • Almost half reported a decrease in revenue this year.
  • Forty-six percent had a loss in commercial lines business.
  • Forty-one percent said that most of their staff continue to work off premises.

Today, the three primary areas that independent agencies will find beneficial during and after the pandemic in order to continue agency operations include addressing the crisis with clients, training staff who are working remotely and building a strong online presence.

Addressing the crisis with clients. Insurance agents know how important retention is. But to keep clients on the books and not have them leave come renewal time often depends on the policyholder experience over the past six or 12 months. That’s why it’s critical to instill trust and confidence during this uncertain time. This includes keeping insureds informed as to how the agency is addressing the pandemic and making it easier for them to get the insurance help they need. For example, how are you making it easier for policyholders to make payments and policy changes and file a claim? What about getting answers to basic policy questions? If you haven’t already thought about and taken steps to make life easier for your clients, now’s the time.

Training staff who are working remotely. It’s important that all agency staff follow best practices while working off premises. This will ensure that your policyholders and potential new clients will continue to get the service they need and deserve. This can include following regular agency business hours, limiting background noise and promptly returning calls. In addition, it’s important for agencies to provide off-premises staff with the tools and information they need to best serve policyholders. This can include having access to important carrier information such as claim and adjuster email addresses and phone numbers, billing and other customer service resources, and knowing how to facilitate quotes and issue new policies — to name just a few.

Building a stronger online presence. More consumers are shopping and buying insurance online. If your agency has been a slow adopter of digital, now’s the time to get on board. A good place to start is by enhancing your website. Key initiatives can include online quoting and claim reporting, self-serve policy changes, and a billing portal complete with a chatbot to answer questions. It’s also a good time to explore possible niches that can open up new revenue streams for your agency, such as small-business lines, farm and ranch coverage, or even life insurance. Once you have identified a profitable niche, promote it on your website, by way of your agency e-newsletter and social media channels.

Today, it will be the fast-moving agents who are proactive in creating value for their insureds who will survive and even thrive during this critical time.

At FastrackCE, we understand the difficult economic environment COVID-19 has created for insurance agents, which is why we’ve made it easy for you to complete all of your insurance continuing education credits in one easy and convenient place. When you’re ready, we’re here for you. For more information, call 800-544-3605 or visit us at fastrackce.com.

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