The Wire’s Deborah Pugatch talked to Charles Daniel, an independent agent with Goosehead Insurance, who has some advice for carriers that should want his business.
You know that dreaded pack of paperwork you sometimes have to fill out while sitting in the waiting room at a doctor’s office? You know that feeling of frustration you get every time you flip the page, only to have to rewrite responses or sign your name again?
Why, in 2022, is this process not simplified? Why, in 2022, is every medical provider not on a system where patients can easily fill out forms online and it auto populates duplicated information?
Those same questions are asked by, and that same feeling of frustration is felt by independent agents who are trying to find the best coverage for their clients.
“I’m a hen and peck kind of guy when I type,” says Charles Daniel, Independent Agent with Goosehead. “The more you can eliminate the need to retype the information I’ve already provided and speed up the process, the more people I can quote in a day.”
The capability is available for insurers to easily connect with rating software. So why don’t all insurers take advantage of this? The answer to that question is anyone’s guess and is one of the many frustrations independent agents have when working with carriers.
“As an independent agent, I work with multiple carriers,” Charles said. “Some are easier to work with than others and those that tend to make my job easier get more of my business.”
Charles’ goal is to make his customers happy. Some want a little more conversation and relationship, but for the most part, he says, “My customers don’t want to come into my office or have coffee. They really want me to provide them with information quickly and they want options.”
Communication, Servicing, & Digital Tools Drive Satisfaction
That negative sentiment though may be at a turning point. According to the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Independent Agent Performance and Satisfaction Survey, independent agent satisfaction with carriers has reached an all-time high.
The survey, done in conjunction with the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, found that the satisfaction among independent personal lines agents has increased by 18 points from 2020. It now stands at 750/1000. Among commercial lines agents, the score is 740, a 29-point increase from the prior year.
So what has changed? Agents that responded to the survey cited better communications with carriers, improved servicing levels, and higher satisfaction with digital tools.
Not all independent agents agree. Overall satisfaction is significantly higher among agents that service multiple lines of business, such as health, life and group, than among those who only offer P&C policies. Also, both the largest commercial agents (more than $500,000 in DWP) and agents with the smallest books (under $15,000 in DWP) had a decline in satisfaction.
So what can carriers do to continue improving their relationship with independent agents? Charles offers this advice, “Do whatever you can to speed up the process. The more quotes I receive in a timely manner not only benefits my customer and myself, but increases your chance of getting more business from me.”