The Internet provides unprecedented access to information, and many investors worry that this could diminish their role in the sales process. While it’s possible for consumers to discover more information about insurance options and inform themselves, the financial professional is actually more important than ever in the current climate, and clients place significant trust in their financial professional’s abilities.
Producers who hope to thrive in the new tech-heavy climate need to act as a compliment to internet research, and must accept that people from all demographics now turn to online options to learn about insurance. The Internet might represent an intimidating force for many financial professionals, but it is actually a useful tool to enhance client engagement and cultivate new leads.
Everyone uses the Internet
The pervasiveness of the Web cannot be overstated, and it is a necessary conduit to reach people in every demographic. For years, common wisdom viewed the Web as a way to reach young people who were less interested in traditional media and more tech-savvy than their older counterparts. That divide no longer exists, and the Internet now represents a major means of communication for everyone.
The most recent Insurance Barometer study from LIMRA illustrates consistency in Internet usage between people of varying age groups. The vast majority of clients use the Internet in some capacity when they purchase insurance, and the difference between the ways younger and older purchasers act is quite small. While it’s true that people under the age of 25 are the most likely to use the Web in their search for insurance, older people are also reliant on the internet. Less than a quarter of consumers over the age of 65 said they would not use the Internet to help them purchase insurance.
While widespread Internet use is changing the ways that people research insurance, it isn’t eliminating the need for financial professionals. On average, 46 percent of insurance purchasers complete research online before purchasing their actual policy through a financial professional. Just over 50 percent of clients over the age of 65 take this route, and a full 48 percent of people under the age of 25 do the same. That similarity indicates the continued need for producers as a source of education and guidance.
How people use the Web
As the above information indicates, the Internet is not a one-stop shop for insurance sales. Instead, it’s part of a larger decision-making process that many clients go through. Investors need to acknowledge this pattern and tailor their online offerings to cater to the way consumers operate. A separate LIMRA study that investigated how the Web affected consumers’ purchasing decisions found the Internet is a fantastic space to cultivate leads, but is rarely the source of a client’s interest.
The study, titled “Information Seeking in the U.S.,” found that people decided to investigate insurance based on events in the real world. That interest led people to financial professionals and the Web in nearly equal measure. Both of these options formed critical parts of the insurance research and buying process for people across all ages, and it’s evident that most consumers use these two research methods in conjunction to reach a final decision. The Internet is not a solution that forces financial professionals out of the market. While 76 percent of clients used the Web for research, a smaller group followed through on that research to purchase a policy online. Consumers continue to display an interest in working with financial professionals they trust.
Catering to consumers
This presents a substantial opportunity for financial professionals, but they need to approach the Web in the correct way. The evidence shows clients go to the Internet to learn, so financial professionals need to provide information that helps consumers as they research their options. By giving consumers the general information they want when they first begin to examine their insurance choices, a financial professional can develop a rapport that could eventually grow into a sale.
By creating a repository of trustworthy advice, either on a personal website or through social media channels, insurance financial professionals can nurture relationships with people who want to develop an understanding of insurance options before they speak with a producer. These consumers are likely to consider that financial professional when they finally decide to buy a product.
Older and high-net worth individuals use the web to research insurance products in a greater proportion than many producers realize. By creating online experiences that harness these clients’ interest, financial professionals can reach out to consumers who otherwise might turn to a different outlet to purchase insurance.