2 Areas of Focus for Distribution - Insurance Thought Leadership

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September 19, 2021

2 Areas of Focus for Distribution

Summary:

Distribution partners are focused on two key areas – user experience and ease of doing business – and are looking to work with insurers.

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Within the insurance industry, the personal lines sector has frequently been the pioneer in building and enhancing digital capabilities. With increasing demands from both policyholders and distribution partners for digital solutions, technology innovation was and remains imperative to both staying relevant and increasing market share. Simply put, insurers that do not continue to prioritize their digital capabilities risk being left behind or, even worse, becoming obsolete. Distribution partners, including retail agencies, brokers, wholesalers or MGAs, are currently focused on two key areas – user experience and ease of doing business. They are looking to partner with insurers that reduce friction points, increase efficiencies and provide self-service digital offerings to both agents and policyholders.

Furthermore, the channel strategies of personal lines carriers are continuing to evolve. A recent SMA Research report, “Channel Strategies and Plans for P&C Personal Lines: A View of Today’s Environment and What’s to Come,” highlights key channels that insurers plan to expand over the next several years, including insurtechs, agents/brokers and affinity partnerships. To examine the digital capabilities required to both support and expand these channel strategies, SMA recently surveyed carriers focused on the personal lines market. The research looked at the current state of digital capabilities offered to distribution partners, the technology and business/cultural roadblocks to digital adoption and insurers’ plans for building or enhancing new digital capabilities.

SMA’s research tracked 14 different digital sales-oriented capabilities and 18 servicing capabilities. Starting with a carrier’s satisfaction with the current state of offerings to their distribution partners and subsequently examining their future tech investment plans, this report provides an in-depth look at where the personal lines industry is today in terms of digital capabilities and where it is headed.

See also: Pandemic Reshapes Personal Lines Plans

With respect to sales, insurers reported the least satisfaction in the areas of appetite and submissions. On the servicing side, where many personal lines insurers have historically focused on enhancing digital capabilities, satisfaction was higher. But satisfaction still varied based on capability, indicating that insurers recognize the need for further enhancement. When looking at future investment areas, self-service capabilities and the user experience of both the agent and policyholder are front and center.

The flurry of new channel strategies and digital projects clearly indicates that the pace of innovation within the personal lines distribution space is not slowing. Insurers must remain close to the evolving market and to changes in the needs and expectations of distribution partners. It’s an exciting time because there are numerous opportunities for growth, the potential to truly increase efficiencies and the need to transform the user experience.

For more information on personal lines distribution expansion strategies, see our recent research report, “Distribution Technologies for Personal Lines: Carrier Progress and Plans.” SMA is also introducing a new research series with perspectives from the distributor viewpoint. A regular series of research reports will be published based on surveys and interviews of agencies, brokers, MGAs, and others in the distribution channel, including insights from ReSource Pro’s large footprint of distribution clients.

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About the Author

Mark Breading is a partner at Strategy Meets Action, which helps insurers develop and validate their IT strategies and plans, better understand how their investments measure up in today’s highly competitive environment and gain clarity on solution options and vendor selection.

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