The internet is starting to show the areas in which these industry pros could be threatened.
The internet has had a history of turning jobs that used to be completed by people into tasks that could be finished in a few seconds by an algorithm or two, and now insurance agents are wondering whether that same fate could be headed in their direction.
The insurance industry is seeing a massive shift toward informing consumers and selling online.
Companies are introducing massive websites that promote various products, provide additional information about what they cover, offer instant quotes, and that even allow a policy purchase to be made. This is very commonplace in the health, homeowners, and auto sectors, and it is starting to weigh heavily on insurance agents, who had been among the primary providers of those services, in the past. While online operations are very commonplace, they have yet to have made a dent in the number of positions that have been available for agents.
That said, industry experts have recently said that the impact on insurance agents could be coming in the future.
According to people in the insurance industry, as well as in Silicon Valley, it is only a matter of time before this trend toward online services and buying will start to impact the agents. According to a Forrester Research insurance analyst, Ellen Carney, “There are 40,000 agencies in the U.S., and you could absolutely imagine them shrinking by a quarter, and the ones that are left will deal with more complicated needs and more affluent customers.”
The concept of selling insurance policies on the internet is not a recent one, but it is over the last short while that it has seen a considerable expansion, particularly since Google has jumped in with both feet. The Google Compare site for auto insurance has already been in the United Kingdom for a couple of years, and now it is believed that the company is looking to start selling vehicle coverage in the U.S., as well. It already has a license to sell in nearly half of the states, says Carney’s research.
As comparison sites like this truly start to take off, it is going to be increasingly difficult for “the little guys” to be able to obtain the exposure that they require, said Comparenow chief exec, Andrew Rose. This could present a considerable challenge to independent insurance agents.