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PIA Research Shows Consumers Value Professional Insurance Agents

WASHINGTON — Nationwide consumer research conducted by the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents clearly shows that professional insurance agents have what insurance customers are looking for: expert advice and counsel, personalized attention and interaction, the ability to offer comprehensive protection to meet individual needs and excellent “relationship-based” customer service...
May 2, 2014

Nationwide Survey Counters Claims Made During Overstock.com Roll-out


WASHINGTON — Nationwide consumer research conducted by the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) clearly shows that professional insurance agents have what insurance customers are looking for: 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 research conducted by PIA’s agency-company council, The PIA Partnership, refutes assertions made in the roll-out of a new insurance buying service announced by Overstock.com. Jeff Chesky, CEO of Insuritas, which is handling agency and policy details for Overstock, was quoted as saying, “Consumers don’t want a relationship with an agent or even a carrier.”

“Insurance is not a cheap commodity that can be stocked on the shelves of any discount retailer,” said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Mike Becker. “Insurance is a contract to protect people and their property in the event of a loss. Insurance is serious business.”

“Our research found that customers, in fact, do want a relationship with their insurance provider,” Becker said. “They are looking for a lot more than the lowest price. What they want is value — not only in the price they pay, but also in the benefits they receive. Customers said clearly that they don’t see insurance as merely a commodity and that price is not their only concern.”

The survey included not only independent agency insurance customers but also those purchasing through online, direct and captive channels.

Other key findings:

• If the price of two insurance policies is nearly the same, customers would most likely choose one over the other based on better coverage or a lower deductible.

The survey also found that customers want a relationship with an insurance professional who looks out for them:

  • 67% of customers would like to receive contact from their insurance company, agent or agency every 6 months or less, to inquire if there are any changes in their life or circumstances, which could create the need for change or adjustment in their insurance.
  • 63% of customers would like to receive contact from their insurance company, agent or agency every 6 months or less to conduct a general review of their insurance coverages and costs, to find out if they are paying too much or lacking coverage they may need.
  • 73% of customers want to hear from their current insurance provider more often than just at renewal.

Methodology: Two online surveys collecting 1,819 surveys were conducted utilizing the “General Marketing Survey Panel” provided by SSI (Survey Sampling International, LLC). The demographic distribution of survey respondents tracks well with the general demographics of the U.S. population. The size of the sample and its geographic and demographic distribution yield a maximum margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points, the same level of accuracy typically cited by Gallup for its surveys. In addition, it is representative of the total national universe of personal auto policyholders set at 187 million+.

The PIA Partnership, originally established as the Company Council of Executive Officers (CCEO) in 1996, is a group of insurance companies that work collaboratively with PIA National to conduct research and develop tools and resources designed to benefit professional independent insurance agents.

Founded in 1931, PIA is a national trade association that represents member insurance agents and their employees who sell and service all kinds of insurance, but specialize in coverage of automobiles, homes and businesses. PIA members are Local Agents Serving Main Street America SM. PIA’s web address is www.pianet.com.

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