Seriously, I’m not a warmonger, but there are parallels between insurance producer level web forms and the renowned standard issued G.I. WWII rifle, the M1 Garand. How so? Well in order to consider this analogy you must first agree that there is a war, and that the agency distribution channel has been thrusted into it. Specifically, this war is between the direct writers that leverage the best technology that Insurtechs have to offer, versus the agents, MGAs, carriers and vendors that support and depend upon the success of the agency distribution channel. Assuming you agree then please read on. If not, then you have no need to go any further with this intellectual exercise.
Are You Still with Me?
Ok, to start our parallel analogy let’s go back in time to June 6 1944, specifically D-Day. Our troops came ashore armed with the M-1, the first semi-automatic military rifle used in this bloody conflict. In the beginning of the war, Germany and most countries involved, only had bolt action single shot rifles for the majority of their foot soldiers. General Patton was quoted calling the M1,” the greatest battle implement ever devised.” That’s saying a lot from a guy who loved his tanks!
So, what does win battles?
In any type of war, with all other things equal, speed, accuracy and reliability are what wins the battle. That said, as of today, for most lines of insurance, Insurtechs have enjoy a decisive advantage in these attributes, over the local agent. These attributes are clearly evident within the Insurtechs’ consumer portals, offering the on-line buyer an Amazon shopping experience 24/7. All the while, most local agents are still struggling to keep up, or they’re not willing to be a slave to their cell phones and lap tops during non-working hours. Even those agents who are willing to go the extra mile are essentially fighting this war with web forms that are the equivalent to a single shot bolt action rifle.
Enter (or soon to enter) the Insurance Producer’s M1 Rifle
Well what does that look like? I will explain, but first let’s take a look at what most agents are using within their agency web sites today.
- Agency level web forms, which usually include the agency logo and the office phone number at the top of the form. Most are just “contact me” pass through forms. Many aren’t even mobile responsive. Lead information is usually emailed to the agency’s catch all sales email address, and are later followed up upon by a staff person during regular business hours. Good luck with that process.
The problems associated with these type of web forms include the lack of integration within the agency’s CMS and or their raters. Additionally, they’re totally inadequate for our instant gratification clientele that expect to buy a policy on line within 15 minutes or less upon visiting your web site. The few intrusive questions the better.
Even agencies such as ours that are using mobile responsive web forms provided by our multi-raters do not yet offer prospects the ability to buy a policy on-line neither at the agency or the local producer level.
While multi-rater provided web-forms are clearly better than a sharp stick in the eye, they still fall short of the expected Amazon shopping experience.
What does the insurance agent’s M1 look like?
It actually looks very similar to what the direct writing Insurtechs are currently using, but with a distinct advantage that only a local producer can offer. What’s that you say?
- Quote & Bind web forms which have the local producer’s photo and “click to call” cell phone number at the top of each page. Sure, it’s ok to have the agency’s or carrier’s logo as well but let’s not forget (assuming all else being equal) even on-line shoppers would prefer to buy from someone local that they can get to know, trust and hold accountable. In most cases this seldom includes the agency principal, but more likely the hungry associate agent that is willing to field a potential client’s call on a Saturday afternoon.
- If these producer level web forms are being provided by the agency’s multi-rater, then adding the “buy now” button next to each bindable quote would be ideal for the local independent agency. In this case the ability to export the prospect’s lead data into the applicable CMS is paramount as well. Why? Because most producers have a closing ratio of 20% or less, so regular follow up is a must. For the captive agency’s local producer, the carrier usually provides them access to their prospects data within their exclusive CMS as well.
- Regardless of being independent or captive the producer needs to be able to continue to prospect their unsold qualified leads by having their lead data imported into an automated email marketing system.
Now for the Good News
Some carriers and agency support vendors have already begun offering producer level web forms, with a few even offering the buy now button as well. These web forms are mostly available for personal lines and small commercial. Three examples are:
QuoteRush – A personal lines multi-rater vendor currently operating in Florida and Texas. QuoteRush offers mobile responsive producer level web forms that leverage data pre-fill for both home and auto. While not yet having the buy now button, QuoteRush does significantly enhance the on-line shopping experience and is well positioned to provide them, once carriers allow for the “buy now” button integration. Additionally, all lead data can be exported into the producer’s CMS for further marketing efforts as well.
Thimble – A provider of short term CGL policies, Thimble has worked with Smart Harbor to offer quote and bind producer level web forms. Underwritten by Markel this product is perfect for prospects who are freelance independent contractors for all types of service industries.
Broker Buddha – A vendor that specializes in commercial E&S markets, providing producer level web forms that interact with agencies’ and MGA’s CMS (Client Management Systems) and supplemental applications for both new business and renewal submissions.
How will the local producer use their M1 equivalent?
Local producers will use their web forms within their social media accounts, emails, and within any DMCO (Digital Marketing Co-Operative) consumer portal they decide to join. Agency principals will most likely use theirs the same way with the added opportunity to use them within their own agency web sites.
For more information about DMCOs and the SaaS that powers them check out the marketing web site 1Lead1Buyer.com.
Once producer level quote & bind web forms become common place (hopefully before the end of 2020) then like D-Day, the tide will begin to turn in favor of the agency distribution channel and will ultimately result in a victory, ending the insurance distribution war, securing the future of the local insurance agent for years to come.