Reflecting on Insurance Channels During Cyber Week

Are you having a good Cyber Week, as some retailers are referring to the post-Thanksgiving rush for shoppers?

Buying things over the Internet certainly has become easier for just about any type of product. But what about insurance? Is it better for consumers to purchase policies online or through an agent?

Direct writers certainly have made it easier to go online and purchase a policy—particularly if the shopper is looking for personal auto coverage.

Not only can you get a price quickly, you can click on two or three other carrier Websites, check out their rates, and make your own decision without becoming annoyed by any customer service reps or developing any feelings of guilt that come when you decide to purchase a policy from one agent, knowing full well you will be disappointing the agent from another carrier.

Agents have done well to promote their importance in the marketplace. They have latched onto the title “trusted advisors” as if it’s some sort of post-graduate degree.

It certainly doesn’t take a genius to go online and purchase either a personal auto or a homeowner policy. Direct writers are making it simple because the technology, such as business rules, is available.

But even though there is enough data in an insurer’s system to answer virtually every question a shopper might ask, there remains reluctance among many insurance shoppers to place all their trust in a Website.

As the entire universe has become obsessed with keeping in constant communication with others through social media and 4G smartphones, it does seem odd that people would choose to make important decisions without consulting someone beforehand.

Posting a question on Facebook for your friends to see and comment on is one way of getting information about an insurance company, but are your friends knowledgeable enough about the various scenarios that can take place when you are searching for the best coverage? They could hardly be considered trusted advisors.

While we value the ability to shop for an Andy Dalton Cincinnati Bengals jersey online and know that we will get exactly what we want from, it’s just a football jersey. You didn’t have to walk through a rainy parking lot and fight through a crowd of shoppers to get what you wanted—you ordered it online and it will be delivered in short order. Is that how you want to buy your insurance?

The direct writer/agency channel battle is one of the intriguing issues that insurers and agents continue to deal with. Is technology bringing us closer to one another or is it pushing us away? The channel we use to purchase insurance tells us a lot about how we shop and how we communicate.

Cyber Monday or a door-buster sale at the mall?

Determining which is right for you will keep carriers of all stripes on their toes for quite a few more years.


About the Author
Robert Regis Hyle,

Robert Regis Hyle,

Robert Regis Hyle is editor-in-chief of Tech Decisions magazine and technology channel editor for He has spent over three decades as a journalist for a variety of business and regional news publications including a stint with a weekly newspaper that he owned and operated. He has been with Tech Decisions since the magazine’s inception in 1999 and has written articles on virtually every issue and trend facing insurance IT professionals. Prior to joining Tech Decisions, he spent two years as editor of a sister publication, The Ohio Underwriter, where he covered insurance topics for the agency and carrier markets. He has spoken on insurance technology issues at various industry conferences such as IASA and ACORD LOMA and on a number of web seminars. He is a graduate of Xavier University in Cincinnati with a degree in Communication Arts. Hyle may be reached at


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