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Life Health > Health Insurance

Consumers see value in independent agents

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They’ll be back.

Independent agents who lose out on business to insurers need not worry: Most customers who are lured away from independent agents by direct insurers promising lower prices will ultimately return to an independent agent.

That’s the finding from a study from The Hanover Insurance Group, a property and casualty insurer based in Worcester, Mass.

The study found that nearly 60 percent of consumers who had purchased insurance through a direct channel 10 or more years ago reported switching back to an independent agent because they wanted something more.

Those consumers cited the “expertise” and “convenience” of independent agents as drivers in their decision. Also important to consumers? The benefits of having one point of contact to handle insurance needs and questions, and “having the guidance of an experienced personal insurance professional.”

The study underscores the value of brokers and agents in consumers’ health care decisions, just as many in the industry are unsure of their futures and their worth to consumers.

Aflac’s recent WorkForces survey found that nearly half of America’s brokers (45 percent) say they’re considering exiting the health insurance business altogether, with the majority (51 percent) saying they are only slightly or not at all confident about the future of their firm and their industry.

Mark Desrochers, president, personal lines insurance at The Hanover, said the research “demonstrates that consumers really value the advice provided by independent agents and the personal relationships they build with their customers.”

“The majority of respondents said their number one reason for switching from a direct insurance provider was to have someone to guide them through their insurance buying decisions,” he said. “Clearly trust and expertise are important to consumers.”

The study was conducted by InsightExpress, an independent marketing research firm, of 1,000 consumers who purchased insurance through direct channels 10 or more years ago.

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