The Life of Today’s Independent Insurance Agent

mike crowley

It was somewhere in the mid-1990s when blogging became the “new” thing, and it all started by keeping live journals online rather than in a diary. 

Since this fad doesn’t seem to be going away, now might be time to give it a shot.

Now I should warn you that I am not the most talented writer, and if you don’t believe me I am sure we can contact my college English Professor. However, when it comes to the the things I am passionate about, I can ramble on and on forever.

Independent Insurance Agents vs. The Competition

Obviously if you already know the different types of insurance agents, you know that Independent Agents are the best!

Okay, yes I am a little biased but this is my blog and I can do that.

As a 3rd Generation Independent Insurance Agency Owner, I have seen and heard a lot, especially stories of how things were done in the past. Yes, that does include rating policies manually by hand.

Working for a family business can have its own challenges, let alone the obstacles that all independent insurance agents face every day.

Competition pops up daily in this industry. Walmart and Google tried to sell insurance and failed. I am sure they will continuously try to wedge their way in again. The competition for Independent Insurance Agents in 2017 consists of three players, Captive Agents, Direct Writers, and InsurTech.

For those not familiar with the terminology, here is how they breakdown:

  • Captive Insurance Agents- State Farm & Allstate
  • Direct/Online Writers- Geico & The General
  • InsurTech- The new disrupter that introduced Lemonade to the world. Basically where you buy insurance from bots.

Even though we technically sell the similar products and coverage’s, there are many differences between us and them.

So now that you understand the terminology of each one, let me tell you the major difference between ALL of them and us.

“They Don’t Care”

Yes I said it. It is brutally honest but it is true. Most insurance companies, carriers, talking Lizards or whoever else you buy insurance from do not care about you or your business.

IA’s Future

The one who do care are the independent insurance agents like us at Crowley Insurance Agency because without you we don’t exist.

“We are honest and tell you the way it is, not just what you want to hear. We care about you, your family, and your business.”

Independent Agents don’t just work a 9-5 job, or at least they shouldn’t. I have joked for years that I work 24/7 and I truly believe it. Technology has allowed clients to be connected to us any time of the day, and this allows us to be available and do what we do best…..care.

If Independent Agents want to continue in this industry for the next 25 years this should be their mindset as well.

We have been battling to overcome the differences in brand recognition & advertising dollars that Captive Agents and the Geico’s of the world have had over us for years. For that reason alone we are already behind almost every time a new buyer looks for insurance. But guess what, we are still here and extremely relevant.

To overcome the obstacles we must start making adjustments for the present and the future, now is not the time to coast by. We need to adapt our business models to the way that consumers want things, and innovate our agencies to keep the gap between Independent Agents and “the others” as small as possible.

Another thing is consumer’s buying behaviors have changed dramatically compared to how they were 20, 10 or even 5 years ago. The world is no longer connected by just a phone number or email address. With social media platforms there are now 7 or more ways we can be connected.

In the old days, the only way to see where your friends were playing was to ride around the neighborhood on your bike to see what house all the bikes were parked at. (I can say the old days because that was even before my time.)

Today we feel the need to have a response back within 30 seconds, or we are annoyed or think something is wrong. As much as older generations hate being “connected” like millennials do, the truth is they are doing it as well. They just don’t realize they are because this isn’t something we are teaching our kids to do, it is simply the way the world is now, PERIOD.

My opinion of this is, I LOVE IT.

I am in this business to help people. My goal is to make sure my clients, their family or their business is protected the right way. I want to be there for them when they need advice or when they need to talk. What better way to show value as an independent agent than to be there when your clients need you most and when it is at their convenience.

This is and always will be the way Independent Insurance Agents will stand out from the competition. If Independent Agents don’t adapt to being available at the client’s convenience, they are going to struggle. The IA’s that are willing to make adjustments will continue to be relevant and in my eyes dominate the insurance competition.

For years people have said that the independent insurance system will dwindle down and disappear. Now after spending the last 11 years in this business and now knowing so much of the ins and outs, I can’t believe we haven’t overtaken all of the competition and phased them out.

It baffles me that people still choose to pick a talking lizard to buy insurance from; I mean honestly is it just because he is on TV and has a funny commercial?

They have by far the worst customer service and claim service I have ever dealt with and they don’t advise YOU, the customer, on what coverage’s you need. It is like you are driving around a ticking time bomb hoping nothing will happen and you don’t lose everything you have worked hard for. Yet somehow they manage to be the largest insurance carrier at least in NY, year after year.

Customers Insurance Buying Behaviors

The reason behind why I wanted to write this article stemmed from something that happened a few weeks ago when one of my clients called me to see if he could give my phone number out to a friend of his who needed insurance help.

When the “friend” called I found out that I had met him about a year prior and he remembered I was in the insurance business. During the conversation I found out his wife was in a car accident and he didn’t know what he should do or how to handle the situation.

Why did he want to call me and not call his own insurance agent or company? His answer was, I don’t trust them.

“You don’t trust them?”

I was astonished to hear him say that.

Why would you buy insurance from someone you don’t trust?

Some insurance agents would immediately start bad mouthing where he is insured, and push him to move his business. Honestly that was the last thing on my mind as my goal was to answer his questions and help him during this difficult time.

My point is when it comes to independent insurance agents, we care about you. You aren’t just a number, client, or prospect to us. Today’s buyers want it all- the instant feedback, easy use of technology, and most importantly they want you and your expertise. As long as we continue to adjust our businesses to the way buyers want to receive insurance we will always be player in the insurance industry.

All I ask of you as a consumer is to think about who you are trusting with protecting what matters most to you. Find someone who you can build a relationship with and let them guide you in the right direction. Contact an independent agent, Someone who cares. 

Mike Crowley

Hi I'm Mike! I am the Vice President of Crowley Insurance Agency. I am here to help any way I can. Please reach out and contact me for anything you need and be sure to connect with us on social as well :)

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