For more than 200 years, the American Agency System’s success has
been largely based upon its ability to adapt to changes in consumer
behavior and technology. Today, independent agents and the carriers they
represent are once again challenged by the increasing number of
insurance buyers who prefer to shop online and competitors that have
developed greater digital proficiencies to solicit and serve them.
Certainly, this is not news to agency carriers specializing in
personal lines, as they have experienced the most severe market share
declines during the digital era. While some have fared better than
others, many company-sponsored digital solutions for agents are largely
proprietary and have generated only pockets of success. The challenge is
a broader one for the American Agency System and it must be overcome to
effectively compete with direct writers and other on-line insurance
providers that have made early gains on the internet.
That’s why I’m urging you to become a participating carrier on
TrustedChoice.com, the most viable online platform for independent
Broad agent and carrier participation is essential to the success of
TrustedChoice.com and already, there are more than 1700 independent
agencies and 35 insurance companies enrolled with more are signing up
each week. But often times, agents want to know whether their carriers
are participating before they will subscribe and vice versa. This
“chicken-egg approach” is simply no longer a viable solution and
consumer buying preferences aren’t waiting. Companies and agents can’t
afford to be late adopters! The agency system needs to work together to
realize the enormous potential of TrustedChoice.com.
Some carriers are also reluctant to participate because they don’t
want to be “spreadsheeted.” First, TrustedChoice.com is not targeting
the shop-by-price buyer, and second, there’s a big difference between
shopping and buying. When you want to buy a TV, what’s the first thing
you do? Compare prices online. You want to know about the different
models, the options, and yes, the price—the benchmark price. We should
have no problem with insurance consumers doing the same thing.
Comparative rating is about helping customers understand there’s a
variety of choices and a range of prices—two things that embody the
value proposition independent agents bring to the table: advocacy,
expertise, and choice. Pricing information is just part of the equation
(TrustedChoice.com does not offer quote to bind); the ultimate goal is
to provide information and connect consumers with agents for all of
their insurance needs.
Many traditional agency carriers are already experimenting online and
investing in new digital distribution channels. Two recent news stories
chronicled some of this activity by announcing that Walmart and
Overstock.com are entering the online insurance business. Letters from
carriers affirming their commitment to the independent agency
distribution channel quickly followed that news. While it’s gratifying
to hear such words, they ring hollow if these same carriers aren’t also
willing to support their agent’s digital future by investing in
TrustedChoice.com – the largest independent agent on-line platform.
The momentum of this on-line insurance platform is unmistakable as
nearly 150,000 consumers visited TrustedChoice.com in April, a
39-percent increase over March and the ninth consecutive record setting
month. The ongoing Freedom of Choice digital ad campaign continues to
drive strong traffic, and with more agents and states participating in
coming months, that record-setting pace will continue.
TrustedChoice.com makes it simple for carriers to participate.
There’s a flat $500 fee per month, per state, per carrier, and no
long-term commitment is required. For more information and to get signed
up, email Vincent Savarese, Consumer Agent Portal vice president of Carrier Relations, or call him at 860-673-1310.
Ultimately, the best reason for carriers to participate is to
increase market share by equipping their agents to successfully compete
in the digital era. The ongoing viability of the American Agency System
depends on it, and I strongly encourage your company’s participation
FAIA President & CEO