|Boston, MA, USA May 6, 2005 |
Independent agents say underwriting speed and support are key to their decisions to place business with one carrier versus another.
Independent agents in a new Celent survey stressed speed, new business and underwriting support, and ease of application completion as critical drivers of carrier choice.
"Canadian life insurance agents have unique needs," says senior analyst Craig Weber, author of the latest Celent report, Canadian Independent Agent Survey: Technology, Services, and Other Drivers of Carrier Choice. "In a market dominated by relatively few players, its important for carriers to understand those needs thoroughly, and to offer services and technology that will help generate agent loyalty."
Weber notes that the top-ranked drivers for Canadian agents are similar to the drivers cited by U.S. agents, but they are not identical (see table below). "Underwriting speed really stands out as a driver," Weber says. "Agents are results oriented when it comes to new business processes. They want to submit cases easily, have thorough follow-up, and quick decisions that they can communicate to their clients."
Ranking Of Carrier Choice Drivers
|Assume for a moment that your carriers all have identical products at identical prices. From the following list, select the three most important items in terms of your decision to do business with one carrier versus another.|
% Respondents Voted Top 3 (Canadian agents)
|Respondents Voted Top 3 (U.S. agents)
||New business and underwriting support
||Ease of completing the application
||Marketing and sales support
||Policy delivery speed
||Client services provided
||The way claims are handled
||Web-based tools provided by carrier
||Commission cycle time
||Carrier support for agency management systems
|Source: 2005 Canadian Independent Agent Survey n = ~450|
A question about agents favorite carriers also produced fascinating results. "Six carriers topped the list," Weber said, "including Standard Life*, Manulife, AIG*, Canada Life, Empire Life, and Transamerica." Weber says these carriers "appear to offer the right combination of products, pricing, speed, technology and underwriting relationships to produce solid agent relationships."
The 44-page report, which is based on a survey administered to independent agents in March 2005, also provides detailed insights on a variety of specific technology and service issues. Other key findings discussed in the report include.
- How "carrier concentration" (i.e., producer willingness to place business with few carriers) varies by line of business.
- The impact of new business cycle time on policy placement rates.
- How "old school" tools like telephone and fax are still used by most producers to perform everyday tasks.
- How producers are willing to use a mix of proprietary and non-proprietary tools for application entry and other tasks.
- How producers rank typical distribution technology initiatives, such as single ID sign on, proprietary agent portals, and online agent tools.
A table of contents is available online.
* Standard Life and AIG invited their independent producers to participate in the survey, which may have influenced how often they were cited as favorites.
of Celent Communications' Life/Health Insurance research service can download the report electronically by clicking on the icon to the left. Non-members should contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.