Insurance customers are comparison shopping more in response to inflation. In this competitive environment, agents play a pivotal role in directing customers to policies appropriate to their needs and budget. In doing so, agents generate quotes, often several times per day—and consequently use quote flows much more often than prospects, who generally only comparison shop when their policies are due for renewal. A best-in-class quote tool can lead to more and faster business for the agent and insurer, while a poor one can frustrate and make them reluctant to use the tool. Insurers can help agents with quote flows that are fast, thorough, and easy to use. Moreover, independent agents are becoming growingly reliant on and accepting of digital. Top insurers take advantage of this openness.

In February, Corporate Insight’s Property & Casualty Insurance Monitor completed our first report on agent quote flows. Our researchers evaluated and analyzed 16 quote tools available to independent agents through agent portals, with help from a professional agent who provided detailed reviews. Our research identified significant growth opportunities, calling attention to the need for insurers to invest in their agent quote tools. Here are three of our key findings:

Autofill capabilities and their development are essential

The biggest takeaway is that agents like autofill. For agents who regularly run numerous quote flows, auto-population speeds up the process which, in turn, prevents fatigue and frustration. Prefilled fields are particularly useful for lengthier flows and multi-product quoting, both of which open up other opportunities for insurers. Customers also get their estimate quicker, without having to dig for more inconvenient and complicated details.

This screenshot shows the policy details step of Branch's agent quote tool
Branch Agent Portal Auto Quote Flow – Policy Details Step, Auto Details Intrapage Tab
  • Our agent panelist praised Branch’s tool, which they said “will auto-populate everything needed for you. Drivers and their license numbers and VINs, as well as matching the coverages as best they can from your prior insurance.”
    • The agent was particularly impressed by Branch’s ability to auto-populate additional interests associated with the quote, remarking that ”[Branch] is the only carrier I know of that does it”; in this regard, the agent characterized the insurer as “going above and beyond.”
  • Even for quote flows of which the agent was mostly critical, auto-population was a redeeming quality

Many professionals already consider autofill an industry standard rather than a unique feature. As such, expectations will only rise and insurers that offer no or only basic prefill capabilities will fall behind.

– Agent Respondent

Some quote tools complicate flow launch itself

Several insurers made it difficult for agents to engage the flow from the get-go by requiring additional steps and inputs.

Both Nationwide and Travelers require agents to verify that the prospect does not already have an account by searching for their profile in the insurer’s user database on a new page before beginning a quote, even when quoting for a brand-new customer. If none are found, agents must either Create Account or Add Customer, respectively, on another screen to start the quote. The agent was highly frustrated with how convoluted the two insurers made the initiation process, especially for new customers. Calling it “annoying and unnecessary,” the agent suggested that the initial steps be condensed to a single page that asks for the customer’s personal details.

This screenshot shows the Nationwide create an account page in the agent portal, a step our panelist found annoying
Nationwide Agent Portal Create Account Page
This screenshot from Travelers agent portal shows the customer selection page
Travelers Agent Portal Customer Selection Page

Redundant or unnecessary steps frustrate agents

Relatedly, the agent appreciated the simplicity of certain tools. For the process to feel smooth and intuitive, the tool must eliminate any unnecessary or additional steps. The agent frequently expressed frustration with steps that felt superfluous, confusing or redundant, and were particularly irritated by pages or questions that ask for information irrelevant to pricing, in-tool processes that require unnecessary labor and information, or steps housed within additional lightboxes and pop-ups that demand additional manual inputs.

  • Bristol West asks agents to indicate if the prospect has moved within the past six months and, if so, loads additional fields for them to enter the customer’s prior address information
    • Noting that the answers would not impact the final estimate and does not offer any prefilled information, the agent called the section “annoying and unnecessary”
  • The quote finalization and purchase process in Progressive’s tool span three steps—Point of Sale, Final Sale and Application; the Final Sale page offers a quote summary and review but agents must confirm the details again and answer additional billing questions on the secondary Application pop-up
    • The agent was confused by the inclusion of the Application step, remarking it was “redundant and a waste of time”
  • The Residence section of Travelers’ agent home quote flow features the insurer’s Home Replacement Cost Estimator; housed in a separate window, the program requires three steps to complete and shows an additional Edit Building Information lightbox if agents select a policy to confirm and edit home information
    • The agent reviewed, “this process should be done automatically on the backend for us agents as many other carriers do.”

[This method] creates confusion for agents and tends to deter newer agents from quoting with them.

– Agent Respondent

This screenshot shows Travelers home replacement cost estimator
Travelers Home Replacement Cost Estimator Window – Valuation

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E Yeon Chang

E Yeon Chang is an Analyst on CI's insurance team.