I’m a big believer in the power of good, evidence-based research; I’ve mentioned this often in my blog posts. So, I am pleased to start this new series discussing our recent Distribution and Agency Management Survey.
It’s the most extensive distribution survey in the insurance industry ever conducted by Accenture Research. We canvassed top executives at 414 carriers in 20 countries in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific and Latin America. They ranged from marketing chiefs to CIOs, heads of distribution and sales, brokerage executives and chief digital officers—they were all involved in insurance distribution. Many of them, 44%, work in Europe. Nearly all the carriers we surveyed generate premium income of more than $1 billion a year. Forty-five percent were multiline insurers, 28% were property and casualty insurers, and 27% were life insurers.
This is, indeed, a very powerful survey.
It gives a clear picture of how quickly insurers are deploying digital strategies in the sale and distribution of their products and services. Moreover, it highlights the actions carriers need to take to harness the full potential of digital technologies to transform their distribution model and avoid being left behind by competitors.
Digital technology is no longer an adjunct to the businesses of the world’s major insurers. It now dominates the agendas of most of the biggest carriers around the globe. And its influence is fast getting stronger.
We’ve entered an era of huge digital disruption. Carriers must move quickly to formalize their digital strategies and shape their future distribution models—one of the main findings of the Distribution and Agency Management Survey.
More than 80% of the insurance executives we surveyed intend to fully digitize their sales processes in the next few years. This is a huge shift from just two years ago, when only a minority of carriers had such plans. In Europe, 27% of insurers have already implemented end-to-end digital sales processes, and a further 30% plan to follow suit in the next three years. This is in line with trends from the rest of the world.
New highly personalized digital channels will enable insurers to build intimate customer relationships that can be leveraged by physical channels to sell further products and services. They’ll also offer new business opportunities. Nearly 60% of all the insurers we surveyed are prioritizing a shift to more customer-centric distribution models, while 48% have, or plan to have, a customer-centric hub that allows them to use customer data to improve the service experience. Raising the quality of the customer’s digital experience is a major priority among insurers in Europe and the rest of the world.
Carriers across the globe are preparing a host of new digital services and products. Competition will be fierce. In the midst of growing change and uncertainty, it’s vital insurers cultivate business agility and act decisively in selecting and implementing their digital strategies.
In my next blog post, I’ll examine, in more detail, the digital disruption that’s taking place in the distribution channels of major insurers around the world.
For more information about Accenture’s Distribution and Agency Management Survey, click here.