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Transforming the insurance industry: Top technology trends and opportunities for 2024

February 19, 2024

As the 2024 calendar advances, you face a rapidly evolving landscape driven by technological advancements, industry and market challenges alongside changing customer expectations.

To help navigate opportunities to enhance your technology strategy, Agency Forward reached out to experienced industry professionals to share insights on what’s ahead for technology in the industry. Our panel includes:

Images of the panelists.

AI and its impact to the industry was a huge conversation in 2023. How do you think agents will use AI in the coming year?

Kasey Ketcham: AI accelerated to the top of the hype curve in 2023 on the heels of ChatGPT, and perhaps rightfully so as use cases and applications of such a capability can be easily contemplated. While AI will most likely revolutionize many industries, including insurance, a number of hurdles will first have to be overcome for scalability, especially in the insurance industry, such as governance, traceability, and data security. That said, I would foresee early AI applications taking hold that may not be hindered by such hurdles, such as agency marketing and cross-sell/upsell recommendations, wherein the agent can continue to oversee key decisions and recommendations but in a more insightful and expedient nature.

Paul Meagher: In 2024 and beyond, insurance agents will utilize the power of AI in multiple ways. Website chatbots will efficiently manage common customer queries and quote requests. AI’s role will extend to enhancing customer satisfaction and retention, empowering agents to evaluate their portfolios, identifying areas for improvement, and discovering opportunities that can positively impact their clients.

Jason Walker: AI is set to make things more efficient, personalized and interactive. Agents will use AI to supplement manual tasks related to marketing, sales and service communications.

  • Content Creation: We all know that coming up with fresh, engaging content is no easy task. Through simple prompts that an agent enters into any number of AI tools, AI can produce content to use across different forms of media (i.e., social, email, text) and use the agent’s intent to incorporate what resonates with their audience.
  • Web and mobile chat: AI-powered chatbots are can mimic helpful sales assistants who know just what you need, and text integration means they can reach clients wherever they are.
  • Client service: AI can tap into online knowledge bases (i.e., CRM, learning management systems, etc.) specific to the agency and provide general information and answer straightforward questions. For more complex issues, AI can direct customers to agents and ensure that the advice given is always compliant.

Read more: How AI is transforming the insurance industry

The past few years have led to several challenges that have led to the current hard market. This has created challenges approach to client service and relationships has changed. How do you see that continuing in the coming year?

Kasey Ketcham: There are two components that emerge in my mind. The first is the persistent hard market which has necessitated a change in client services and relationships, as more time and focus is required through the renewal and placement cycle. I don’t see this changing as the hard market headwinds, such as weather and social inflation, seem persistent. That said, I do see greater digitalization occurring for agents, clients, and carriers in the renewal and placement cycles, such that the agent and client can move through this cycle with greater speed (automation of decisioning), ease (self-servicing where applicable), and reassurance (transparency and communication).

Paul Meagher: Our clients remain our utmost business priority. Technology plays a pivotal role in improving our communication capabilities, allowing us to interact with clients according to their preferences, be it through calls, texts, emails, teleconferences or in-person meetings. We expect upcoming technologies to enhance our ability to provide personalized and accessible service to our clients in the future.

Jason Walker: The focus will further accelerate deepening relationships with existing clients. With tougher market conditions that lead to sharpening a pencil on underwriting qualifications, it’s a smart move to retain and expand wallet share rather than trying to rely heavily on new prospects. It’s all about maximizing the value of each client relationship.

One of the ways to achieve this is through marketing automation tied to data in the agency management system (AMS). This means sending out timely and relevant messages based on where the clients are in their journey. It’s like having a personal assistant who knows exactly what each client needs at any given time and can communicate this effectively.

Another approach is to provide educational and suggestive content. This could be through creative web interfaces that encourage online interaction. Imagine a client wondering, “What else should I consider covering?” and the agency website provides them with suggestions based on their coverage needs. It’s a proactive way of engaging clients and demonstrating value.

Demonstrating value and knowing that value is realized requires constant measurement. It’s crucial to measure client sentiment. By understanding the pulse of the agency’s clients, agents can adapt strategies and services to meet client expectations and enhance satisfaction.

Finally, providing access to self-service applications is expected to continue. These applications empower clients to access important documentation, understand their coverages, update their risk profile and make requests at their convenience. It’s like having a 24/7 customer service desk but without the wait.

Watch the webinar: Marketing Opportunities for Independent Agents in a Hard Market

For new talent in the industry, what technologies do you think they should spend the most time learning and becoming an expert?

Kasey Ketcham: It is critical that talent entering the industry understand the core business elements – who is the customer, what is the product/service, how is it distributed and managed, and the associated economics across the value chain. Insurance is a highly regulated industry, but technology will continue to play a critical role through automation and augmentation. Robotic Processing Automation has been a long-standing tool leveraged to reduce tasks and cycle times, but the emergence of large language models and generative AI can enhance the value proposition through augmented advice and decisioning.

Paul Meagher: At the agency level, I recommend that new agents prioritize building expertise in SEO, data analytics, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, digital platforms and automation. This focus not only positions agents to navigate the evolving landscape of the insurance industry but also ensures they are equipped with essential skills needed to thrive in a tech-driven market.

Jason Walker: First and foremost, it’s all about finding ways to eliminate mundane tasks. Let’s face it, no one wants to spend their day doing repetitive tasks that a machine could handle. That’s where automation comes in. By automating routine tasks, new talent can free up their time to focus on more strategic and rewarding aspects of their work.

Many of the core technologies with which new talent must develop familiarity include automation. The agency management system (AMS) is crucial for capturing and storing client and policy data and syncing with complementary third-party tools that manage the marketing, sales and client experiences. Integrated platforms for marketing automation, texting, reputation management, sales and service pipeline activities and website content management play a unique role in enhancing client interactions and satisfaction. Understanding how to use them effectively can give new talent a significant edge.

Read more: Managing agent appointments 

What trends do you see gaining momentum going into 2024?

Kasey Ketcham: In 2024, I see continued pressure on loss costs, carrier profitability, and evolving product solutions (including terms, conditions, and limits) across standard and non-standard. Given the expectations of the customer, and the advisory capacity of the agent, I believe the “omni-channel agency” will grow in 2024. The “omni-channel agency” is an agency that embraces and deploys the use of digital tools, portals, and automation to elevate the discipline of risk management on behalf of their clients and the customer experience through preferred communication channels. For example, the agency can leverage digital forms for the renewal cycle that the customer can complete and submit automatically, to ensure all risk attributes are accurate and the placement of that customer with a carrier product adequately manages the customers risks.

Paul Meagher: In 2024, I anticipate a continued decline in Trade Combined Ratios (TCR) influenced by an increased emphasis on predicting and preventing claims, shifting away from the traditional approach of detecting and repairing.

Jason Walker: We’re likely to witness a greater uniformity in core solutions across the agency channel—due to mergers and acquisitions, new agency partnerships and an appetite for tightly integrated solutions. Think of it as a way to standardize best practices and technologies, which can help streamline operations and enhance client service.

2024 is set to be a year of consolidation, AI integration, enhanced client engagement and value-driven service, all underpinned by mature and efficient technology. It’s an exciting time to be in the industry, and those who can ride these trends are likely to thrive.

Read more: Translating emerging tech into practical applications 

About our panelists

Kasey Ketcham is an accomplished executive at Nationwide Insurance, one of the largest insurance and financial services companies in the United States. With 19 years of experience in the insurance industry, Kasey brings a wealth of knowledge and success to his role as Senior Associate Vice President of Digital Enablement.

Paul Meagher is President of Meagher Insurance & Financial, an agency serving Pennsylvania since 1938. At Meagher Insurance Agency, their main goal is the make the process as easy, educational, and enjoyable as possible, with personalized and authentic advice from an experienced agent, who goes to bat for customers, and does the right thing every day. Paul is an active member of the community, serving on the Boards of Directors of the Wayne County Planning Commission, the Greater Honesdale Partnership, and the Wayne Woodlands Manor Nursing Home.

Jason Walker is the President of Agency Revolution (AR), which offers insurance agencies turnkey digital marketing, sales and service solutions to achieve operational efficiency and profitable growth. The AR suite includes websites, sales and service pipelines, marketing automation, texting and online review and reputation management. AR has integrated with the leading third-party agency management systems (AMS) and customer relationship management (CRM) technologies to ensure timely, relevant and personalized communications around the insured’s journey.