Google selling auto insurance, should health agents be concerned?

Google Med Supps?

You may have read that Google is creating a shopping comparison site for auto insurance. If they’re successful, what’s next - homeowner’s insurance, mortgage insurance, or even health insurance? You can’t help but feel anxious reading about the next case of the impending death of the insurance salesman, but there’s always hope.

Every few years, some new threat rears its head, and agents get concerned about their future. Whether it’s carriers selling directly to consumers, online sales portals such as eSurance or SelectQuote, or now — a gigantic technology company with very deep pockets — Google, there is always cause for concern.

Google is really good at cataloging information and making it easy to search. That includes websites, email, news, images, products, videos, maps, and presumably insurance rates. And let’s not forget that they have databases full of information about all of us, such as where we live, where we work, and where we drive. That will surely come in handy when it comes to underwriting.

Auto insurance is often considered to be a commodity, so when people buy policies based on price alone, carriers find ways to compete on price, often by reducing coverage or adding exclusions and limitations, and they find other ways to cut costs, and trim the fat. Google will definitely find ways to make the process more efficient.

What does this mean for health insurance agents?

Online insurance sales have been around for years, and independent agents haven’t been run out of business so far. Some consumers will choose to buy this way, but many will not. You already know that some people simply don’t understand the benefit of using an agent, or they think it costs extra. You know they’re wrong, but it’s up to you to convince them that they need you as their agent, and earn their business.

It’s time to modernize or get left in the dust...

If Google’s auto insurance aspirations prove to be a success, then we can probably assume that they’ll move into other areas, such as homeowner’s insurance. Certain lines of insurance, such as health and life, maybe be more complicated, but there will come a time when all this can be done online. Filling out forms online is easy, but Medicare for example, is complicated. Can it be done? Of course. You, as an agent, bring a lot of experience to the table, and perhaps people find it easier to trust you than trust Google.

With that said, you cannot continue to do things the way you’ve always done them, unless you plan to retire in the next few years. Consumers are becoming increasingly more comfortable with technology. Try to fax something to someone under 40 and see what kind of response you get - faxes are dinosaurs to them. Larger companies rely on business intelligence and analytics - which they have at their fingertips. All customer data is stored in databases, and reports can be run in an instant. Systems like that, although simpler, are available to you today, and they’re affordable. Take advantage of them.

If you still rely on paper stored in filing cabinets, it’s time to modernize or get left in the dust. If all you do is punch in numbers to provide a quote - you’re in trouble. To survive, you’re going to need to learn how to use technology for marketing, prospecting, sales, and reporting. Make your operation more efficient, provide great customer service, and cross-sell anywhere you can to build relationships and tie your clients to you. Even if Google doesn’t come after your business, you should be prepared, because some hungry agent will.

If you have questions on how to modernize, or need help choosing an Agency Management System (AMS) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, contact me - I can help!

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