Posted on 11 Jul 12 by Annie George
While much of the news around social media and insurance has focused on direct writers and major branded agency forces, new research from Novarica shows that more than 70% of insurers that distribute through independent agents also use Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn as a part of their communications strategies. The report, “Insurer Social Media Strategies for Independent Agent Distribution,” also found that over 40% of insurers surveyed have no official social media policy in place—setting insurers up for compliance risk and a limited ability to capitalize on the technology.
Significant number of insurers with independent distribution are using social media for one-to-one contact with their agents, suggesting that some of the communication with agents that used to take place by telephone or email is migrating to social media platforms. Agent usage of social media in this arena is sharply split by age, with 25% of agents under 40 using LinkedIn to communicate with specific underwriters at their insurers—double the percentage of those over 40.
“Social media is playing a growing role in the communications strategies of insurers across the board,” said Matthew Josefowicz, Novarica Managing Director and Partner and co-author of the report. “This is a fact of life that will only increase as boomers retire and are replaced by GenX and Millenial agents.”
The report surveyed 82 insurers that write through independent agents, and 150 independent agents, on the rates of social media usage and preferred platforms for different uses and actions. The report found significant rates of social media usage by these insurers to find prospects and enhance customer relationships, as well as to communicate with their distributors. It also found significant rates of usage by agents themselves to find prospects and manage customer relationships.
The report also presents six ways insurers are supporting their agents’ social media efforts, and concludes with four recommended steps for insurers to consider social media a part of their producer relationship management strategy and bring marketing, underwriting, and compliance into the formulation of social media strategies and policies.
“Too many insurers that rely on independent agents are still treating social media the way they treated the Web in 1999,” Josefowicz added. “Changes in communication platforms and behaviors will affect these insurers’ crucial abilities to manage relationships and communicate effectively with their distribution partners.”
Novarica provides information, insights, and perspectives on markets, operations, and technology to financial services and insurance executives. The company delivers its service through published research, retained advisory services, and project-based consulting. Novarica draws its knowledge from the personal experience of its principals, the ongoing information gathering initiatives of dedicated research staff, and regular communication with insurer executives through informal networks and through the Novarica Insurance Technology Research Council, a moderated knowledge-sharing community of more than 300 senior IT executives representing more than 275 North American insurers. More information at www.novarica.com