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Consumers increase digital adoption while still valuing agent relationship

JUL. 13, 2021

Many consumers adopted new behaviors in 2020 – from virtual health visits to online grocery orders, the pandemic accelerated digital adoption across industries and insurance was no different. The latest Agency Forward Study data shows that consumers are using digital tools throughout their insurance journey.

  • 48% of consumers have used a customer self-service website
  • 37% of consumers have used mobile apps for customer services and claims
  • 36% have used online mobile tools to quote and compare policies and price

Nearly half of consumers associate digital insurance capabilities to online tools or mobile apps that help with filing claims and reviewing policies (48%), compare insurance policies and costs (46%), and make the claims process much faster (46%). In fact, 43% of consumers want to handle all insurance needs via a mobile app.

While digital capabilities are becoming an increasingly important expectation for convenience and value, consumers still acknowledge the importance of having an agent.

Infographic showing how consumers still acknowledge the importance of having an agent

  • 87% of consumers say an agent plays a critical role to the customer experience
  • 88% of consumers still value being able to speak with an agent when they need one
    57% of consumers prefer to have insurance agents located physically nearby—mostly for accessibility and trust

Opportunity: Ensure your marketing strategy highlights the expertise your agency offers.

The results also showed agents and consumers agree on the value of digital tools.

  • More than half of agents (53%) think a digital benefit is providing customers access to an agent 24/7, consumers agree (52%)
  • 52% of agents think digital tools provide better customer service, 45% of consumers agree
  • 51% of agents think digital tools help retain customers, 55% of consumers believe it provides them faster access to information

Opportunity: Work with carriers that offer proven digital offerings.

Nationwide offers 24/7 access via an online account so that customers can easily and quickly take care of policy-related tasks on their schedule. An online account allows customers to view and print ID cards and policy documents, request changes to coverages, make payments or report claims.

Carrier tools like Nationwide’s Agency Locator can help agents show up when customers are searching locally. The Nationwide Agency Locator drives more than a million consumers to look for a local independent agent every year.

While agents see the benefits of digital tools for their agency and clients, 80% feel the digital integration has been a challenge. They are managing the pressures of this business shift and adapting to consumer expectations. According to agents, the challenges of integrating digital into their agencies include:

  • 76% rising costs
  • 72% having the resources to teach agents about the tools
  • 69% staying on top of and getting clients to use new technology

Opportunity: Learn about training opportunities from carriers and industry experts.

These insights and more were uncovered through Nationwide’s ongoing Agency Forward (formerly Agent Authority) research series, which includes samples of independent insurance agents, various business owners, and consumers. Previous Agency Forward research reports can be viewed on Nationwide’s P&C research page.