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To Be or Not to Be – What is the Value?

Angelyn Treutel Zeringue
Insurance Experts' Forum, October 15, 2013

After a loss, some consumers who buy their policies online soon learn a hard lesson about the need and value of having an agent who is partnered with a top-notch carrier.

Adding Value. That is the major buzzword in our industry these days. The recent McKinsey report, which falsely predicts the demise of agents in insurance would lead you to incorrectly believe that agents no longer add value nor provide “consistent” service. However, adding value is what agents and carriers do every day, and we know that consumers don’t want to be treated like they are “just a number” with the clinical definition of service.

What is not adding value is requiring consumers to do all of their own data entry and pushing all of decision-making for complex coverages down to consumers and forcing them to call a 1-800 number for service. We have more than a handful of clients who came to our agency after they found themselves without adequate coverage following a loss under a policy that they had issued themselves online. It felt good and cheap at the time, but when the loss occurred, they were left without the right coverage and had no one to advocate for them. They learned a hard lesson about the need and value of having an agent who is partnered with a top-notch carrier.

So what does it mean to add value? As we go through our day, we are all bombarded with information overload, and it seems difficult to accomplish anything. We get overwhelmed with mail, e-mails, texts, news and radio and hundreds of Facebook posts. We go to a restaurant and the food service is too slow. On the way home from work, traffic is backed up and people are being rude drivers. We have to be worried about children, parents, community, and more. Then when we get home, there is nothing worth watching on TV. If we look at our own lives and determine what frustrates us, we get a keen insight into the lives of our clients, and we can easily find ways to add value. Agents can offer peace of mind, individualized and speedy service, convenient and hassle-free product delivery, spend the time desired by clients to help them understand their contracts and coverages, and agents also support the local community baseball team.

In today’s busy world, a professional trusted advisor is exactly what a consumer needs to steer them through the complicated insurance contracts on which a consumer must depend to protect them from a catastrophic loss. Agents provide convenience and stress-relief to clients by understanding their needs and making recommendations from a variety of personalized coverages from multiple carriers. In the same way that you rely on an attorney for legal advice or a CPA for tax advice, an agent is a critical resource for businesses and consumers. Certainly, there are a few dare-devils who believe they can take on Perry Mason in a court room, but most consumers know it is best to seek a professional.

As agents continue to provide trusted advice, personalized coverages, and options on carriers and pricing, consumers will continue to turn to agents for coverages.

Read another INN blogger's reaction to McKinsey's report here.

Angelyn Treutel, CPA, is president of Southgroup Insurance Gulf Coast and the chair of ASCnet's Industry Solutions Industry Initiatives Committee and the past-chair of the IIABA Agents Council for Technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Angelyn by using the “Add Your Comments” box below. She can also be reached at atreutel@southgroup.net.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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