Earlier this year, J.D. Power published their 2019 U.S. Independent Insurance Agent Satisfaction Study, which tracks overall agent satisfaction of the service they receive from insurers. The clear conclusion (unsurprisingly) from this year’s responses is that “the more satisfied independent insurance agents are with a carrier, the more business they will conduct with that carrier.”
What we did find surprising was that commercial lines of business was amongst the lowest that J.D Power tracks in their surveys. According to the survey results “For commercial lines, that score falls to 720. These are among the lowest overall satisfaction scores in any business study currently conducted by J.D. Power, lagging even financial advisors (737).”
So what are some of the overall key findings in the survey and how can insurers begin to take the required steps towards improving satisfaction rates with their key agency partners?
Key Finding #1: Independent agent satisfaction with carriers is linked to placement rate:
The survey found there is a strong correlation between higher levels of independent agent satisfaction and a greater number of business relationships with insurers. Also, independent agents that are more satisfied with the service they receive from insurers are more likely to recommend that carrier and place a greater number of products with that insurer.
This insight supports the reality that clients are now putting more pressure on insurers to move to an optimized multi-channel distribution model. In addition, the insurer’s business development teams require more accurate, real time data to make transmissions even simpler and faster for the agents they work with. Today, this process is often limited by the insurers ability to process submissions, which can take weeks for the data extraction, underwriting, and quoting thus leading to the poor satisfaction scores and ultimately reduced new business opportunities.
Meanwhile, insurers also struggle with accurately processing the loss runs and exposure data. This results in slower processing times. Insurers need the ability to automatically route submissions for better placements and improved satisfaction from agents and brokers. Extracting and normalizing the data into a single language can help keep their underwriting data up to date and free from manual entry. This offers more accurate information to reduce risk in the validation process to drives a better broker experience.
With the TowerIQ Platform, insurers can improve distribution by improving the quality of their placement processes:
- High quality data piped right into the system: Insurers can give their team the ability to make the best decisions leveraging all the data to get to the best possible answer. They can easily capture all submission data and ingest it into a structured language to extract, clean and transform it for increased submissions evaluations.
- Understand appetite and automate pipeline: Insurers can help their distribution channel understand when to get them the right opportunities based on industry, size, state, or line of business. Agencies will understand their appetite at a finer grain regarding where they want to grow and route the optimal policies directly.
- Improve underwriting capacity and response times: Insurers can get high speed and high quality quotes by improving the carrier’s interface and communications with their agency distribution channels.
Key Finding #2: Support/communication and quoting are keys to agent satisfaction:
The survey also found that quoting for commercial lines was one of the most important factors in determining agent satisfaction and a key area for insurers to focus to increase satisfaction.
Part of the reason this insight is unsurprising is that insurers constantly struggle with policy validation which is a complex, manual process often resulting in high data loss which ultimately erodes profit margins, affects pricing, and limits contract certainty. The simple fact is that most underwriters don’t have enough clean, high quality data to understand if they should bind a particular policy.
Bob Rusbuldt, president & CEO of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America commented, “Carriers that focus on ease of doing business achieve high satisfaction scores from agents. Ultimately, carriers that invest in their agent platforms benefit from a distribution force that has more time to spend providing value-added service to customers rather than back-end administrative tasks.”
With the TowerIQ Platform, insurers can improve distribution by accelerating the speed and accuracy of their quoting processes:
- Shorten time to quote: Insurers can gain trusted status amongst their distributors through the delivery of high quality, accurate, insurance documents thus streamlining the process for agencies and MGAs.
- Write more premiums per underwriter and improve market share: Insurers can drive higher quoting throughput and write more business with low touch, streamlined underwriting.
Of course the news isn’t all bad! Congratulations to Liberty Mutual who earned a 5 Power Circle Rating ranking them #1 in the commercial lines category for agent satisfaction!