Turn on the TV, and it’s impossible to avoid commercials for insurance products. Some captive and direct carriers flood the market with advertising to funnel leads to their agents and websites. Independent insurance agents, on the other hand, rely on relationships and great service to differentiate themselves from the competition. The pandemic has accelerated consumer preference for digital interactions, making it increasingly difficult for agents to build lasting, trusting relationships with policyholders.
Fortunately, a simple policy add-on that costs just a few dollars each year is a hidden tool in the agent’s toolbox: the roadside assistance policy rider. Roadside coverage can improve brand loyalty, unlock customer insights, strengthen existing sales channels, create referral and cross-selling opportunities and improve policyholder retention. It’s a powerful tool for building business and strengthening relationships with both customers and the insurance carriers.
Critical touchpoint builds brand loyalty
Auto accidents – thankfully – occur infrequently, meaning most interactions with policyholders take place only at signup or renewal. Consumers don’t get many chances to actually "use" their insurance to see what value it delivers to them. But each year, one in two drivers experience a roadside event (e.g., dead batteries, flat tires, lockouts, etc.), and overwhelmingly these consumers express feelings of frustration, worry or anger during the event. Being the hero for policyholders in their time of need increases the value they derive from the relationship with their agent.
With today’s fickle consumer, it is important to identify opportunities to improve affinity. Customers who use their insurer’s roadside coverage say it improves their brand experience. In fact, these consumers have an auto policy renewal rate 11 points higher than consumers who handle a roadside event without their insurer's support, according to Agero's industry research. This reinforces the peace of mind that roadside coverage delivers.
See also: 3 Tips for Improving Customer Loyalty
Usage unlocks insights
Beyond brand loyalty, roadside assistance can provide timely insights, offering a deeper understanding of policyholders’ unique situations and needs. For example, with Americans driving more cars, more miles and owning them longer than ever before, they’re likely to experience more breakdowns. Agents can see what percentage of policyholders’ vehicle experienced an event and how that can change as those vehicles age. Similarly, understanding the number of miles a policyholder’s vehicle is typically towed can help with determining and adjusting coverage levels based on historical data. Helping policyholders mitigate these types of situational risks has significant value.
Positive experience opens new sales channels
What’s more, a positive roadside experience unlocks countless opportunities to bolster an agent’s reputation and strengthen relationships with policyholders. For example, successfully resolving these events can be a boon to business, shedding light on customer success stories that can be used for referrals, social media testimonials and more. Those happy policyholders are more likely to purchase additional products and services, opening the door to new opportunities for cross-selling or up-selling.
Retention is the ultimate outcome
It’s important for independent agents to understand how the roadside assistance policy rider can benefit both the business and customers. Roadside programs are a key weapon that independent agents can rely on to not just provide a good customer experience during a policyholder’s time of need but to also improve customer retention. As mentioned, policyholders that used their insurance roadside policy to resolve an event had an 1,100-basis point increase in renewal rates compared with those that did not.
Most drivers aren’t using roadside benefits from their insurer
Our research suggests that four out of five drivers have some form of roadside coverage. In fact, about three out of five have multiple policies, such as through their insurance and a motor club, auto manufacturer warranty, credit card, etc. Yet just a quarter of consumers with multiple coverage options choose to rely on their insurer.
That’s unfortunate because roadside is an ideal time and place to build attachment and loyalty with policyholders. For two-thirds of drivers, they’re not even aware of their insurance coverage. Simple steps like reminding policyholders of their coverage – via mail, email or even text – and explaining that “roadside” doesn’t mean only those events that happen “on the side of the road” are shown to increase usage (a majority of events actually happen in consumers’ driveways).
Roadside assistance is about people, not cars. These events are a moment of truth for one-half of drivers each year, introducing opportunities to engage policyholders, strengthen relationships, deliver additional value and enhance their experience. The more agents encourage customers to use roadside assistance, the more likely they are to see success in customer affinity, up-selling/cross-selling, referrals and retention.