There’s been a trend in the insurance industry over the past few years. Brokers across the country have invested in technology that allows them to quickly and easily provide quotes to clients in an “apples to apples” format so that the client can make a buying decision, often without any additional input from the agent. Many agents even have quote engines on their website that allow clients to run the quotes and apply for coverage on their own without ever talking with the broker. With today’s tools, brokers can literally sell insurance in their sleep.
The technology is great, and it’s a necessity for brokers who want to maximize their time and help the most clients during a condensed annual enrollment period. Quote engines and online enrollment platforms speed up the administrative side of the sales process, allowing brokers to focus on the conversation with the client rather than the “shopping the market” part of the sales process. It is a fantastic method for rapidly moving customers through the funnel.
The problem arises when consumers searching for in-depth answers can’t turn to a broker for personal assistance. This is not uncommon with direct-to-consumer insurance platforms and implies that insurance sells itself. As an experienced broker, you know this is not the case. Most people purchase insurance after an advisor explains the need for health coverage and helps them choose a plan that provides an adequate level of coverage at a price they can afford. In other words, health insurance is sold, not bought, and insurance brokers fill this vital role in the industry.
This marketplace trend of online agencies presents an excellent opportunity for brokers to employ technology as a means to elevate their industry expertise and enhance the sales process, not supplant it. To compete with these faceless websites, brokers are likely to have far better results by following up with clients after the quoting process and ensuring they are purchasing the right level of coverage by asking questions and narrowing down the options for the prospective client.
The good news is that no amount of technology can replace the expertise and valuable advice of an agent who specializes in health insurance solutions. On the other hand, if brokers try to turn the process of buying insurance into a do-it-yourself transaction, then they can easily be replaced by the carrier’s website, Healthcare.gov, national direct-to-consumer sites, or even future competitors like Amazon.
Long story short: health insurance is complicated, and most people need guidance to make the right decision. As an agent, you have the opportunity to give them this guidance. Brokers who take this approach to the business and just keep doing what they’ve always done—providing clients with good advice—will always be in high demand. Yes, you should embrace technology and anything else that makes you more efficient. But remember that it’s simply a tool; you’re the salesperson and you can’t be replaced.