A Message From PIA's President
The problem with conventional wisdom is that it is often wrong.
Conventional wisdom has it that Congress is paralyzed by partisan political gridlock. While that may be true to a certain extent, the idea that nothing good is happening on Capitol Hill may be a bit overstated.
Increasingly, in the hyper-partisan atmosphere of our nation's capital, insurance legislation is drawing bipartisan support. We are seeing bills that are endorsed and advocated by PIA advancing and being enacted.
Conventional wisdom by various industry “experts” over decades has also yielded predictions of the impending demise of the independent agency distribution system for insurance. But this never happens.
Why? There are several factors. One is the adaptability and resilience of independent insurance agents, who are adept at not only reacting to change, but getting out in front of it. Agents were among the first to fully embrace the use of social media to promote their agencies and market themselves in their communities. They were leaders in recognizing that Main Street is now online.
But the main reason that independent agents continue to thrive is that they continue to provide what their customers want.
PIA’s agency-company council, The PIA Partnership, has conducted two nationwide studies involving both surveys and focus groups of insurance customers to ascertain their buying preferences. One study looked at commercial lines and the Internet; the other examined buying preferences regarding personal lines. Both found that consumers overwhelmingly preferred doing business with local agents.
Our commercial lines survey results contained both an affirmation and a wake-up call for agents. While small business owners continue to greatly value the professional advice and personal service of an independent agent, there is an expectation that their agent will be more capable of online interaction concerning their accounts, and that the agency will have a fully credible online presence. Commercial lines customers want agents as experts who are backed by the efficiency of the Internet.
It turns out that when it comes to insurance, customers appreciate that it is a complex transaction that requires professional advice. They don’t want to do it themselves because they don’t have the expertise, or the time.
Professional Insurance Agents are driven by an entrepreneurial spirit which makes them strong, nimble, adaptable and savvy. They provide exactly what their insurance customers want. That’s one piece of conventional wisdom that is totally true.
Robert W. Hansen, Jr.