2021 Comperemedia Insurance Trends: How’d We Do? (Part 1)

October 19th, 2021 | Nicole Bond

Each year, Comperemedia analysts develop annual industry trends based on brand observations, competitive marketing, and consumer data. As we prepare for the launch of our 2022 Insurance Trends, let’s take a look at Comperemedia’s 2021 Insurance Marketing Trends and see where we got it right—or wrong. Looking back, we were spot-on with our predictions, for the most part. While some trends like ‘Agents of Change’ and ‘Industry Interchange’ have steadily evolved, ‘Underwriting Overhaul’ may be the one coming to fruition at a slower pace. The industry focused on delivering ease and simplicity for both their agents and consumers throughout their entire insurance journeys.

This year, COVID-19 continued to drive change across the industry and impact business as we knew it. Insurers were forced to rethink traditional practices and enter a new wave of business interactions, with agents and consumers alike.

Agents of Change

In 2021, expect carriers to navigate shifts to independent agency channels and equip brokers with improved quoting platforms, expanded simplified underwriting, and competitive incentives. Insurers will also rely on the help of third-party providers and startups to accelerate agency digital transformation.

How’d we do? Absolutely crushed it, but the overarching implications may be too new to determine their lasting impact.

The pandemic forced insurers into a new age of digital transformation, increasing the need to partner with independent brokerages, equip agents with simplified tools, and work with technology firms to improve business models.

Traditional insurers and insurtechs alike branched out to more actively incorporate the role of agents as customer relationship enhancers. As far as traditional players go, Allstate announced plans to buy more independent insurance agencies this year, after its acquisition of National General, but ensured that the time of agents serving as “human modems” was long gone. Its overarching goal is to have agents available to talk to customers in-depth, not just crunch data to deliver a quote. On the other hand, several insurtechs opened new roles to specifically focus on agent acquisition and management. Metromile searched for a Channel Manager for partnerships and agents, with the primary goal being to increase customer access to Metromile products while creating simplified paths for quoting, binding, and service experience for its agency network. Ethos also opened a new role for Agent Acquisition, aiming to build the largest network of independent life insurance agents in the industry.

While some insurers emphasized bulking up their agent task force, others deployed products with enhanced digital capabilities for their agents. Root filed a trademark for LEFTLANE, a mobile application that will allow independent agents to easily collect and analyze consumer data to provide quotes, manage insurance policies, and process claims. Unqork launched its P&C Product Launcher, creating a one-stop shop for digitizing and automating the entire underwriting process in order to free up time for new business opportunities.

And if there wasn’t enough in-house development, there were also partnerships formed on the backbone of digital enhancements. Ladder integrated Redtail Technology, a CRM solution, into its suite of proprietary technologies in order to meet advisors where they are by creating a solution that integrates its trusted life insurance technology with a seamless CRM used for customer management.

From expansions to hiring to product development, insurers far and wide stepped up to evolve the role of agents as it pertains to day-to-day business practices. In addition to tools that are geared toward acquisition, carriers have also been tasked with helping agents complete their own digital transformation and improve their business operations for existing customers.

Industry Interchange

Insurance no longer exists as a silo. In 2021, insurers will appear in new industries, including expansions into different insurance lines, and marketing will reflect the value in a holistic customer experience.

How’d we do? Nailed it! With the partnerships and product developments that we have already observed this year, we are eager to continue to follow how this trend plays out over time.

Nuanced collaborations, inside and outside of insurance, became more frequent in 2021. Whether it was by blurring the lines between product offers, creating seamless experiences, or finding new ways to intertwine product offerings, insurers teamed up with various partners to expand their reach within the industry – further ingraining themselves into the everyday lives of consumers with the promise of convenience and value.

When it came to extending reach across lines of businesses, insurers amplified their ability to provide an all-inclusive experience to bulk up their original product offerings. Sun Life acquired DentaQuest, the largest provider of Medicaid dental benefits in the United States, in order to enhance its employee benefit offerings. Several car manufacturers are selling connected car services with dynamically priced car insurance already available, bundling the car-buying experience with that of auto insurance. Ford, for example, partnered with LexisNexis to provide its connected vehicle data to US auto insurers through a telematics exchange. Not only are carmakers embracing these important partnerships, but they are already rolling out messaging to consumers that details the built-in interconnectivity and savings potential of usage-based insurance. Retail giant Walmart took its advancements into the healthcare space one step further with its integration of Epic’s health record system, which offers a unified system for patients, healthcare professionals, and insurers to communicate and share information.

Beyond foundational business expansions, some carriers boosted their overall consumer experience with heightened perks and value-add services. In an effort to help its customers engage their wellbeing and focus on their health, United Healthcare offered access to Apple Fitness+ to its members for free for a one-year subscription. It’s offering not only allowed members to access workouts and guided meditations from their Apple watches, it also tapped into the COVID-19-driven digital fitness trend. John Hancock encouraged its customers to get the COVID-19 vaccine with the promise of 400 Vitality Points, which translates to a diverse range of discounts and benefits. A partner of several insurers, Cambridge Mobile Telematics, teamed up with Verizon to enhance the premium features of the Verizon Smart Family app. Together, the brands are monitoring teen driving behaviors and delivering crash detection that notifies family members in the case of an accident.

While mounting antitrust cases against technology companies may threaten expansion, insurers still have an increasing opportunity to invest in partnerships and products that enhance the overall consumer experience while leveraging their already established brand reputations. We are increasingly observing fintech companies, such as SoFi and Ellevest, promoting their insurance partnerships to bridge the gap between financial services and insurance by showcasing how both investments contribute to one’s overall well-being.

Check out Part two to learn about how the ‘Underwriting Overhaul’ Insurance Trend fared by clicking here!

Nicole Bond

Nicole Bond

Nicole Bond is a Senior Research Analyst, interpreting cross-channel marketing and consumers trend with a focus in telecom and financial services. Nicole also has a Master's in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University, contributing to her passion for identifying consumer drivers and helping clients develop omnichannel marketing strategies.