The insurance distribution landscape in India is undergoing a sea change. The role of insurance agents has advanced from selling products to advising customers and improving services.
Today, the job of an insurance agent, also sometimes known as a Point-of-sales Person (PoSP), is no longer restricted to selling policies. Now, it is more about offering value to customers with investment advisory and helping them pick policies best suited to their needs. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) guidelines allow a PoSP agent to work with brokers and enable them to provide solution from any company basis customer needs.
In 2015, the IRDA introduced a distribution model to support the growth of distributors in the insurance industry. The distributor or a PoSP is engaged either by insurers or intermediaries such as corporate agents or insurance brokers for the last mile.
Traditionally, the prime motive of agents has been to make a sale and gain commission. Now, the focus is shifting from commission making to offering customers real value in the form of helpful advice and educating them on various options that would enable them to make the right purchase decision. And they have good reason to do so! Customers today want advisors who can offer them personal attention and provide them the confidence that they are making the right insurance decisions. This means PoSPs must truly understand the needs of the customer and recommend policies that will best suit their needs. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the times of aggressive product selling are behind us.
These days, consumers have access to a wealth of data on policies and insurance providers on the internet. They have different platforms and options to choose from. Therefore, what customers need is a trusted advisor who would help them in zeroing in on insurance products from various options. This has resulted in tremendous opportunities for PoSP to share their knowledge with customers, offer genuine help and become their go-to person for insurance policies.
Insurance companies are now strengthening their tech platform and working on developing their service support to make the lives of PoSPs easier and serve the customer better. Technology has played a massive role in transforming the insurance industry and the role of advisors in particular. The rise of online platforms is ushering in this change, by making information available to both, agents and consumers. Agents then, have an opportunity to focus on areas where they actually add value i.e. advising and not merely selling.
In the future, technology will strengthen its grip on the industry, offering more information, personalized services, and a barrage of data to different stakeholders. This means that agents will have to offer a viable solution, and not just sell a product.
(Disclaimer: Writer is Anik Jain, Co-Founder & CEO, Symbo Insurance. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)