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Meeting clients’ shifting expectations

October 29, 2021

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in widespread changes for business owners, consumers and insurance agents alike. With this in mind, even as the economy begins to recover from the events of 2020, business owners and consumers are expecting more from their insurance agents as they enter the post-pandemic world.

According to a recent Agency Forward survey, there are a number of steps that insurance agents can take to better satisfy their clients and help them overcome current coverage challenges. Specifically, many business owners and consumers are seeking tailored assistance and advanced coverage solutions to help them successfully navigate this ever-changing climate. As a result, it has become increasingly important for insurance agents to make an effort to foster strong relationships with clients and provide them with personalized services that meet their unique needs.

Personalization makes a difference

The pandemic largely shifted how insurance agents interact with their clients. However, consumers and business owners alike are still seeking live communications from their agents. In fact, the Agency Forward survey found 86% of consumers and 89% of small business owners agreed that being able to speak live to a person regarding an issue or question about insurance is valuable. The vast majority (95%) of insurance agents also feel that this is an important factor.

In addition, 85% of consumers and 87% of small business owners voiced that they value an insurance agent who can personalize their coverage to meet their specific needs. Once again, 95% of insurance agents also view this factor as a priority. Lastly, 84% of both consumers and small business owners find it critical to work with an insurance agent who has proven that they can deliver during a crisis (e.g., a pandemic, fire or natural disaster). Comparatively, 93% of insurance agents agree that this is an imperative factor.

Opportunity: Together, this data showcases how crucial it is for agents to ensure they are readily available to help their clients amid any circumstance and deliver tailored insurance solutions. By providing such personalized services, agents can help boost their overall trustworthiness and dependability among their client bases. View this webcast to hear from PropertyCasualty360’s Agency of the Year winners on how to enhance business and client relations.

Seamless processes are a top priority

Apart from the value of personalization, the survey also emphasizes how vital it is for insurance agents to ensure effortless coverage processes and maintain timely services for their clients. After all, business owners voiced various difficulties with how long it takes to set up their coverage and the length of time it takes to receive insurance quotes. Over one-third (35%) of small business owners reported the former issue, while 34% experienced the latter problem—representing 11% and 9% increases from last year’s findings, respectively.

A smooth claims process is also important to clients, the survey finding 89% of consumers and 87% of small business owners ranking this factor highly. As such, agents should make it a priority to establish seamless insurance experiences for their clients—both when they secure coverage and when they file claims.

Opportunity: Especially as it pertains to handling claims, agents should work closely with insurance carriers to provide their clients with virtual tools, which can help streamline and speed up the overall claims process. This resource offers more information regarding Nationwide’s virtual claims tools.

Client education is essential

It’s no surprise that clients look to their agents for guidance on a range of coverage-related topics. Nevertheless, 41% of consumers and 46% of small business owners confirmed that they struggle with understanding insurance terminology. Therefore, insurance agents should take additional steps to educate their clients on policy wording and answer any questions they may have regarding specific coverage conditions.

Aside from these focus areas, however, the survey showcased that a growing number of both consumers and business owners are also requesting guidance related to risk management and other nontraditional insurance topics from their agents. These topics primarily include retirement, cybersecurity and banking. This means that agents need to provide their clients with a greater depth of insurance guidance and work to expand the breadth of this guidance to touch on further topics.

Opportunity: Help clients plan for every event in their life with insurance and financial educational articles, videos and infographics on the Nationwide Learning Center.

Relationships matter

In addition to ways that insurance agents can improve, there are some key things at which clients have noticed their agents already exceed. Primarily, 79% of consumers shared that they have been able to build a relationship with their insurance agent over time, whereas 89% of small business owners feel this way—the latter reflecting a 7% rise from the previous year’s findings. Over two-thirds of both consumers and small business owners also said their insurance agent regularly checks to confirm their coverage meets their current needs.

Opportunity: Considering this data, insurance agents should continue to make a conscious effort to routinely reach out to their clients, thus cultivating solid professional relationships with these individuals and tailoring their coverage as needed. Learn more about engaging customers using technology.

Survey methodology

Nationwide commissioned Edelman Data & Intelligence to conduct a 20-minute quantitative online survey among a sample of 2,400 independent U.S. insurance agents, small business owners, middle-market business owners, African American business owners, Hispanic business owners and general consumers between June 22-July 7, 2021, to understand what business owners and consumers value when buying or renewing insurance policies, explore the different challenges each audience faces around insurance, gauge perceptions of the economy, and find out the actions business owners and consumers have taken as a result of COVID-19 and the conversations they’re having with agents. As a member in good standing with The Insights Association and ESOMAR, Edelman Data & Intelligence and Nationwide conduct all research in accordance with local, national and international laws and in line with all Market Research Standards and Guidelines.