By Tim Metzner, Chief Strategy and Growth Officer and Co-Founder
After recently launching into the independent agent (IA) space, we’ve been spending a lot of time learning from agents. In my experience, one of the best ways to learn is to talk to people. It’s also one of the best strategies for creating active and loyal users.
For these reasons, and because I’m competitive and wanted to make more calls than anyone else as we kicked things off 🙂 ), I hit the phones hard last week. Like most founders, my schedule is already pretty jam-packed. But by carving out a chunk of time each day dedicated to calling agents, I connected with around 100 independent agents last week who recently got access to Coterie through our partnerships with Independent Market Solutions, Agentero, and First Connect.
Like any outreach, I ended up with a high number of voicemails and follow-up emails, but I was fortunate enough to have live conversations with a good number of these busy independent agents. Here’s a quick summary of what I learned.
Small business insurance is a problem
Agents spend more time on it than is worth the compensation. The amount of time spent on filling out applications and then creating and sending paperwork, certificates, etc., makes it very hard to profitably sell a small business insurance policy.
Human + technology!
In many cases, we can’t fully automate business insurance because every business is unique and so are it’s risks.
But technology can be a great starting point and eliminate MUCH of the time wasted. If we can cut down the time it takes to write a policy and send docs, small business insurance can be worthwhile.
Small business insurance is overly complex
Unless you laser focus on a few specific types of business, becoming an expert in small business insurance for every type of business is impossible.
This is where technology can help! If a solution can suggest the types of coverages and endorsements (think packages) that a typical business type needs, the agent can then focus on the specific needs of the business in question.
Because most small business insurance products were built from the same insurance products originally intended for medium and large businesses, they require much more information than is necessary or practicable for the average small business.
Startups, home-based business, and the smallest of small business are overlooked
Simply put, there aren’t great solutions and no one is focusing on them. Writing a small (minimum premium) product requires the same information gathering and submittal process of a much larger policy. Business owners don’t have the time to become business insurance experts, so they often still lean heavily on the independent agents.
Fortunately, many of these issues are similar to what we heard when first building our solution for independent agents. While we have a lot of work to do, it feels like we’re off to a great start.
For many agents, being able to quickly demo the platform, understand if something is within our appetite in one to two minutes, and issue most policies within five minutes (due to our automated underwriting and policy issuance) is impressive enough. Because of our focus on calling agents, many independent agents wrote their first policy with Coterie last week and offered some really positive feedback.
We will continue to learn from our IA partners (and continue calling agents) as well as improve and simplify our IA Dashboard tool for agents. Just a few weeks into the channel, it is already apparent that not only is there a huge opportunity to improve small business insurance, but agents out there are excited to more efficiently serve small business owners.