The world of insurance is often divided into two main channels: direct insurance and brokerage. But what exactly distinguishes the two, especially in an era marked by the emergence of the hybrid customer?
Direct Insurance: This approach sees insurers selling their products and services directly to the end consumer, eliminating the need for any third-party intermediaries or independent brokers. But contrary to a common misconception, going 'direct' doesn't necessarily mean going fully digital. Many direct insurers have their own battalion of agents or representatives. These in-house agents are tasked with selling and servicing the insurer's products. They're representatives of the insurance company itself, dedicated to their singular brand, as opposed to independent brokers who usually cater to a plethora of insurance providers.
Now, enter the hybrid customer. This is the modern consumer who is at ease both online and offline. They might start their insurance journey online, researching policies, getting quotes, and assessing reviews. But when they need in-depth advice, reassurance, or just the comfort of a human touch, they are equally comfortable picking up the phone or walking into an office.
For insurers operating on the direct model, hybrid customers pose a unique opportunity. While digital platforms can efficiently handle their initial queries and provide quick quotations, their in-house agents can take over when customers seek more personalised guidance. This blend ensures that even in a direct model, customers aren't left navigating the complexities of insurance entirely on their own.
On the flip side, we have the brokerage model. Independent brokers are often seen as the champions of customer choice, offering a range of products from various insurers, guiding customers based on their individual needs. Brokers thrive on their ability to understand and cater to the nuanced needs of their customers. In many ways, the brokerage model has always been attuned to the hybrid customer, offering a mix of personal touch and a wide array of choices.
As the insurance landscape evolves, the lines between direct and brokerage might blur further. With digital platforms on the rise, even traditional brokers are integrating online tools into their operations. Meanwhile, direct insurers, recognising the value of human touch, continue to invest in training and supporting their in-house agents.
The future, it seems, is not about choosing between direct or brokerage. Instead, it's about understanding and adapting to the hybrid customer, ensuring they get the best of both worlds, no matter which route they take.