If you run a commercial insurance agency, the time to go fully digital is right now. 

It may be a long time before things are back to whatever we once considered normal. And it will be a “New Normal” with plenty of differences than the “Old Normal.” 

One way that things will definitely be different? How people provide and receive information. Their expectations will be changed, and that’s going to affect how they get commercial insurance coverage. With more people working remotely, the desire to complete tasks that way will only grow.

"...an initiative we've had in process is encouraging customers to transact with us remotely, as much as they feel comfortable....While we have continued to meet with customers in person upon request, many are opting into these services and will likely continue to do so after further business normalization." — James Clabo, The Simmons Partner Network, Hermiston, OR

An Agency Management System is just the start.

Long before this pandemic, digital adaptation was well underway in everyday life. Malls were struggling as people shopped online more frequently. Dating was already about matching algorithms. And home buyers were going to Zillow before they phoned a realtor.

Online business had already become something that wasn’t just for millennials or Gen Z—it was simple, fast, and definitely for everyone. Insurance, meanwhile, was also moving into the digital age. But the pace? Well, not exactly breakneck. 

Sure, some new technology has been adopted, but compared to other industries, commercial insurance was prehistoric. Legacy systems persisted, substandard customer experiences endured, and time-consuming practices stunted efficiency. 

Expectations about commercial insurance. 

Nobody has the ability to predict the future exactly, but it's safe to say that a lot of things are going to be different. People who have spent months working remotely and shopping online will be reluctant to trade those conveniences for the old ways, even if we all look forward to a time when we can resume many of our former activities. (Who else is looking forward to having a professional cook the food, an expert bring it to the table, and a team magically clear and clean the dishes?)

What are some of the things that won’t be appreciated when it comes to insurance? Complex, long forms. The need to provide the same information over and over. Printing a PDF, signing it, and then trying to figure out how to return it. Among other things have prevented commercial insurance from becoming fast and relatively painless process. 

If there was scant patience for these practices before, there is most likely going to be zero tolerance for it after so many people are accustomed to better solutions. 

The good news? Agencies that make the right moves now, and adopt technology that enhances the customer experience, will have a competitive advantage. If you’re currently using outdated approaches or if your team has yet to fully engage with and employ the software that is in place, use this time of quarantine as an opportunity to build a new mindset.

In the post-COVID era, the agencies that do will be ahead. And the ones that don’t, won’t. 

The world will be different. So will your book. 

Here’s what else is changing: your customer base. Even if you still have a book of business that mainly includes companies led by a generation that is not as tech savvy—hello, Boomer—that’s not going to last. If anything, coronavirus will ramp up succession plans and prompt many agency veterans to stop putting off their plans for retirement. It is definitely a Seize the Day kind of moment—the pandemic has provided an acute reminder that waiting for the exact right time to do something is not the best idea. 

Expect a lot of movement and a transition to younger talent post-COVID. If your current client roster isn’t full of millennials or Gen Z, just wait. It will be. 

“Sounds great. But new technology can’t replace relationships.”

Absolutely. We’ve heard that from many in the industry and frankly, we believe there’s no way it can. In business insurance, the broker-client relationship is paramount. 

That’s why smart agencies will be choosing solutions that don’t introduce barriers or reduce the kinds of meaningful connections that power business. The best solutions actually enhance broker-client relationships by eliminating tedious tasks, and freeing up agents to provide a level of service that exceeds expectations. No customer has ever asked for more paperwork, and no broker has ever looked forward to completing a bunch a manual data entry. Remove those factors and just watch how much better relationships become.  

Make insurance renewals easy. 

In a business environment as challenging as this one, the last thing anyone wants is friction. So if your renewal process is out of date, time-consuming, or just plain infuriating, that needs to change. ASAP. 

Our platform transforms renewals from a tedious back-and-forth between customers and agents into a process that is familiar to anyone who has ever used the internet. Online smart forms are familiar and ours are especially intuitive—it’s the rare agency, after a switch to Broker Buddha, that doesn’t hear from customers about how much they appreciate the platform. (They don’t notice Broker Buddha—agencies make it part of their web site and use their own branding with it.)

During this time, when one day seems to roll into the next,  it’s easy to stop thinking about the future. But the truth is that there’s never been a time to make your agency a leader in the digital age. 

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Published on:

Wednesday, June 3, 2020