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Agents Provide Value Direct Writers Can't Match

In the past year, several large non-insurance firms have taken steps toward selling insurance, including Walmart and now Google...
February 11, 2015

In the past year, several large non-insurance firms have taken steps toward selling insurance, including Walmart and now Google.

Although Google has obtained licenses to sell insurance in 26 states through its Google Compare Auto Insurance Services, there is no guarantee that such an effort would be successful. Last May, the TransUnion Auto Insurance Shopping Index reported that shopping over the Internet for auto insurance is down for the second year in a row.

An extensive nationwide survey conducted in 2011 by The PIA Partnership for its project, Voice of the Customer – Personal Lines clearly showed that consumers want what professional insurance agents offer: expert advice and counsel, personalized attention and interaction, the ability to offer comprehensive protection to meet individual needs and excellent "relationship-based" customer service. The PIA Partnership is currently conducting an updated nationwide survey, Voice of the Customer – Commercial Lines, which will be released later in 2015.

Insurance Customers Want Agents

"Once again, we are hearing predictions of the death of the independent agent," said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Mike Becker. "These predictions have never proven true. If you look back through history, agents have always been able to adapt, evolve and change to keep up with customer expectations and market changes. That dynamic process is continuing to this day."

"Those who stand the most to gain by capturing the market share held by independent insurance agents – in other words, our competitors – have engaged in a decades-long effort to create the impression that the independent agency distribution system is unraveling, but that is simply not true," said Becker. "They contend that customers put price above coverage and service, and our research proves that is not true. They say people prefer buying insurance online, but we know they prefer an agent."

"Perhaps our competitors are using the time-tested propaganda technique of repeating an incorrect statement so often that it is accepted as truth," Becker said. "But we know people are smarter than that. When all is said and done, all insurance risk is local and so are Professional Insurance Agents. PIA members are real people on Main Street who care about their communities and the people in them."

"The PIA works nonstop to defend the independent agency system," said PIA West Executive Vice President Clark Sitzes. "The association studies consumer needs and we find ways to help you give your clients what they want. This association gives you tried and true methods to help you market your agency and we give you advice on how to connect to your community and overcome the effects of direct writers, Walmart and now Google."

Insurance Is Not "Stuff" article by John G. Lee (PC360)