Ryan Hanley

author, speaker, marketing geek

If You Work in Insurance, This Should Be the Only Article You Read on the Future of Social Media

If You Work in Insurance, This Should Be

If You Work in Insurance, This Should Be

I recently had the pleasure of attending a local lunch-and-learn presentation on the current state of insurance in relation to technology and how independent insurance agents will compete with direct writers in the future.

The presentation was very well done and I took some excellent ideas away that I hope to implement in my work at Agency Nation. Presentations like these are type of collaborative discussions that our industry needs more of in order to be successful in the future business world.

After the presentation I went back to my office but it was hard to concentrate on work.  There were two specific conceptual ideas brought up during the presentation that had my brain tweaked.  I needed to get the thoughts down on paper.  That is what this is.

But before we dig into the two ideas I want you to understand something about me, (since many of you reading this do not know me personally), so that you can hold a frame of reference throughout the article.

I am very passionate about the ideas I believe in and my personal vision of how independent insurance agents will succeed through technology.  When it comes to insurance, my vision quest is destroying the misconception that insurance is a commodity.

I believe technology will allow us to do that. Communication tools such as websites, social media and email, e-signatures, cloud-based servers, single sign-on… these are all action initiatives that ACT, the Agents Council for Technology, is working on and all are vitally important to the success of the independent insurance agent.

Capturing the Connected Generation

Passion for the value of insurance and the importance of the independent insurance agency is what allows me to consistently pour my heart out about an industry I adore and career I cherish.  I affectionately refer to this as Bleeding on the Keys…

This is why after eight years working for a family-owned independent insurance agency I made the hard decisions to leave and join TrustedChoice.com as their Vice President of Digital Marketing.

For me, the quest to help insurance agents capture the connected generation is the valuable work I can do at this point in my career.

I hope, with the preceding introduction, will help you understand why as a thirty-three year old former independent insurance agent and standard bearer of the insurance industry, I am in such vigorous disagreement with the following two beliefs I’ve heard circulating throughout our industry:

  1. The Millennial Generation does not value the service independent insurance agents provide and prefers to deal with direct writers. 
  2. The ability to provide online quotes is essential to competing with online direct writers.

Could it be that these are the prevailing ideas of Insurance Industry’s thought leaders?

I hope that I am wrong… But in case I’m not, let’s attack these two statements.

1.  The Millennial Generation does not value the service independent insurance agents provide and prefers to deal with direct writers

I’ve heard this statement packaged a couple different ways:

“Millennials grew up with computers and want to buy through computers…”

“Millennials associate anything with an “Agent” as more work and more expensive…”

“Millennials have been marketed to their entire life and don’t respond to brand value…”

Have you ever heard these arguments or some variation of them?

I bet you have.  When hear and read something that is expressing this viewpoint such as those above I cringe.

The problem is not that Millennials do not relate to Independent Agents… The real issue is that Independent Agents do not relate to Millennials.

Too many of us are sitting in our agencies ignoring the Internet, marketing as if it’s 1979, and selling with the same tired pitch we’ve always used. Coverage this… Price that… Review once a year whatever… It’s all bullshit.

customer expectation triangle

Coverage, price and service are simply the barrier to entry for attracting Connected Generation consumers. Connected Generation consumers know that technology allows us to provide great coverage, competition price and high-quality service with minimal effort.

What attracts the Connected Generation is experience they receive working with your agency.

The Customer Experience

What Millennials want is the same thing that your Baby Boomer clients want, a relationship.

But Ryan, how can you say that when these people make insurance buying decisions based on conversations they’ve had on Facebook?  I didn’t say that Millennials want the same type of relationship that Baby Boomers want.

Actually I’d say that Millennials want a different type of relationship all together (for more this read 5 Content Marketing Tactics the Connected Generation Can’t Resist). 

The reason your independent agency is struggling to attract Millennials is because you are either unaware, unable or unwilling to provide the type of relationship that Millennials seek.  That my friend, is a YOU problem, (an US problem really), not a Millennials problem.

Some of you are saying, “We’re old school here.”

We’ve been successful doing business the same way for 30 years.  “We work on referrals…”

Do you think technology is going away?

Do you think that technology is going to become any less integrated with our daily lives?

Please tell me you don’t believe the whole “The World is Swinging Back to 1950’s Cold Calling and Direct Mail Marketing” thing.

Let me answer both those questions for you:

  1. No, technology is not going away and,
  2. No, technology is going to become even more a part of everything we do.

To pretend like that is not the truth is like saying the sun won’t rise tomorrow.

Just because YOU don’t like technology doesn’t mean you’re prospects and clients don’t like technology. Millennials want a relationship and they are going to seek out that relationship with whoever is willing to provide the relationship.

But here is the trick, as long as that relationship is provided on their terms.

So far direct writers are the only companies within the insurance industry willing to attempt to provide Millennials with the relationship they want.  But there is hope, they stink at it.

This is the value in TrustedChoice.com. TrustedChoice.com is capturing the attention of Connected Generation consumers, introducing them to the independent insurance agency system and then connecting these consumers to an actual independent agent.

2. The ability to provide Online Quotes is essential to competing with online direct writers

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about online quote integration for independent agency websites with idea being today’s consumer wants to be able “shop” online for insurance themselves.

Go back and read the last two sentences of the third paragraph of this article.  If that is too taxing a task, (I don’t blame you), here it is again:

“When it comes to Insurance my vision quest is destroying the misconception that insurance is a commodity.  I believe technology will allow us to do that.”

Do you think that as independent agents we have any chance of competing with big-budget direct marketers if our value statement is “Come to our site where you can shop for your own quote?”

UPDATE: When I first wrote this section, the way in which independent insurance agents address online quoting was completely different. The platforms were awkward, clunky and provided limited and relatively inaccurate results. These platforms were not extending the value of the independent agency system.

Today with the introduction of the TrustedChoice.com platform and easier, more seemless integration from comparative rating tools such as EZLinks and ITC we can now provide the consumers who desire online rating a more valuable experience.

I hated the way we used comparative rating was first available to independent insurance agents. We used comparative rating to scream “PRICE” as loud as we could into the Internet. Then we’d hope someone comes running to buy insurance from us…

Crazy? A marketing strategy of yelling into air will have approximately the same results as playing the direct writers game of self-service online quote shopping.

The 2015 Model for “Get a Quote”

This is part of the genius behind TrustedChoice.com (you may think I’m playing favorites by talking about TrustedChoice.com, seeing that I now work there. But there’s a reason I took the job. I believe in the model).

When a consumer visits TrustedChoice.com they have the option of “Find an Agent” or “Get a Quote.” If the consumer chooses “Find an Agent” they are taken directly to the directory of local agents who write the product they are looking for. Easy.

When an insurance consumer chooses “Get a Quote,” they are asked a series of questions. Based on the consumers answers to these questions and other factors such as product desired, the state they are in, etc, insurance carriers who’ve chosen to provide rating return a preliminary quote.

This is when the independent agent value proposition takes over. Instead of allowing consumers to bind online, TrustedChoice.com directs consumers to an independent agent to close the deal, verifying that the consumer has chosen the correct coverage and carrier to meet their need.

When this article was first published I was pretty aggressive against online rating. I’m sure some of you reading this have some form of do-it-yourself-online quote system that you pay some amount of money for and you’re completely offended by everything I wrote at that time.  So let’s skin this cat a different way.

As independent insurance agents how do we differentiate ourselves from direct writers?  What is our value statement?  What makes doing business with a human being a more advantageous insurance experience for the consumer than doing business with a computer?

At its simplest form… WE CARE!

We care that our clients have proper coverage.

We care that our client’s service needs are met in a manner they appreciate.

We care that our clients receive the competitive price in the market.

We care that our client’s insurance carrier will respectfully and dutifully respond to a claim.

How do you establish that value when insurance consumers are quoting their own insurance through an online rater?

If your answer is “After they purchase a policy,” you are so sadly mistaken.  At that point we’ve established ourselves as order takers… Our opportunity to make a great first impression has come and gone.

Now process my change or I’m shopping my insurance for something cheaper.  All I have to do is go online… NOW, I SAID!”

Not me Compadre, I want to establish relationships of trust and respect with my insurance consumers.

Trusted Choice is a big part of that. Creating and maintaining a conversational and educational online presence is part of that. Understanding customer experience and not service is what separates the independent agency system is a part of that. Building relationships with carriers, wholesalers, MGA’s, vendors and peer insurance professionals is a part of that.

“Get a Quote” is only part of the solution.

The Future of Insurance and Social Media

True I didn’t always believe in online raters and I’ve always loved the Internet.  I believe so strongly in the power of marketing, communication, relationship and trust building potential held within the online world of social media and digital marketing for independent insurance agents that stopped selling insurance to help our industry.

That’s why I do the work I do today.

I believe in the independent insurance agent more than ever.

Insurance consumers need independent insurance agents more than ever.

But the marketplace is changing and if we’re really as good of businessmen and women as we’d like others to believe we must be willing to change with that marketplace.

The thing is, we can’t think of ourselves as insurance agents, I never did.  We are a relationship builders.  That’s what we do, we build relationships with people, it just so happens that the service we provide is insurance (or risk transfer for you old school cats).

And I know it to be true that so many of you feel the same way.  That is why you are so successful at selling insurance. And that is what social media is all about, building relationships.

Yes, these relationships are built through a computer, but they’re certainly not meant to stay there.  I tried, if geographically feasible, to sit face-to-face with every client I had and I sell a decent amount of insurance to people my first contact with is over the computer.

What I’m trying to say is great relationship builders, (YOU!), absolutely kill it on social media.

This is what Millennials (Connected Generation) want, a relationship, they just want to build it on the computer first.  Millennials still want to know that there is a living, breathing human being who gives a crap about their insurance program on the other side of that computer looking out for their needs.

This is why we as independent insurance agents, should not rest on the success of online self-service quoting platforms.  We’re not building the relationship upfront that sets us apart from the machines. At TrustedChoice.com we pride ourselves on educating consumers first, (we’ve done this with over 1,200 articles on the site and more coming everyday).

You should tap into that resource, while at the same time building your own.

If done correctly, with diligence and dedication, an online social media presence can build the trust and respect necessary to establish a quality agent / client bond.

I promise.

The Rub

I’m hoping that this article stirred up some emotions. It’s been three years since I published the original version of this post and funny thing is, not too much has changed.

We’re still fighting direct writers and independent agents are still questions the validity of digital marketing and social media as tool for attracting new business to their agency.

It’s time for this to change. I don’t want to update this article three years from today facing the same questions from agents.

The time for action is now.

Let’s hear your thoughts!

This is an extremely important topic facing our industry.  The debate is crucial.

Thank you and good luck,

I am Ryan Hanley

P.S. If you’re looking to take this conversation deeper read 7 Ways to Fail at Content Marketing.

About Ryan Hanley

I help make sales easy through content marketing. My work as a marketing strategist, keynote speaker, and Amazon bestseller author will help your business establish authority, attract an audience and grow revenue. Hire me to speak at your next event or grab a copy of my new book, Content Warfare.

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  • Frederick Fisher

    This strategy may work fine with personal Lines insurance and perhaps even small business coverage’s like a standard BOP. If, however, Millennials think they will be able to get sophisticated coverage like E&O, Environmental, EPLI or CYPER protections this way- they will indeed be very disappointed. There- the coverages are dangerous, complicated and require a RELATIONSHIP with someone with expertise. I’d hate to think how many will end up tragically without coverage (and having to sell their stock options) simply because they based their decision on price and online convenience.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ Ryan Hanley

      @frederick_fisher:disqus, I actually built 50% of my business on Professional Liability through digital marketing. I appreciate your opinion but unfortunately its inaccurate.

      Digital marketing is simply an introduction and in that way I’ve closed 100s of Professional Liability (and related coverages such as EPLI and Cyber) using the tool to share my expertise with prospects.


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  • Bob Macintost

    The insurance industry is plummeting. Plain and simple. Technology is increasing and independent agents don’t have the slightest clue about creating value for the client. Look at Bain’s report on small insurance companies vs. Progressive, Geico etc. The marketing ability of the real insurance companies like Geico and Allstate dwarfs the poultry contribution of smaller agents. The smaller companies aren’t even on the scale in terms of customer satisfaction. The big players build metrics to measure how satisfied the client is and at what stage in the transaction they are upset. Smaller companies have no idea how to do that and simply don’t care. They’re greedy and want to market themselves as caring. Simply put, the smaller agents are getting strangled and because of their ignorance and age, they simply can’t keep up in client relations.

    Google will sweep all of us under the carpet in a few years and within ten years 1/3 of of the agents in insurance will be retiring. Good luck competing with fortune 500’s guys! I’m selling ice cream instead.

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  • Liesl Dano

    I just stumbled upon this blog and really relate to it. I changed careers recently and am as green as can be when it comes to sales, so marketing to the connected really makes sense. Are there any examples of agencies out there that are putting this into practice?

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ Ryan Hanley

      @liesl_dano:disqus there are many. I’d reach out to your state insurance association and find local examples of agencies doing well. If you’re looking for a good place to start, check out Vargas and Vargas in Boston.

  • http://www.openskycopy.com/blog Joel Arndt

    An interesting digital tactic that is growing in popularity really helped me out when I bought my Lenovo laptop. This tactic can work for any industry, but I believe insurance agents could really benefit from it …

    I was searching online for laptops. Lenovo had caught my attention and there were a couple models that fit my vision of a good laptop. But this is a big purchase so the technical details mattered to me. Getting the best value for my money was priority number one.

    While browsing the Lenovo website, a “Live Chat” box appears in the upper left hand corner of your web browser. For myself, there were some technical questions, and Live Chat promised a readily available service agent to answer those questions.

    Now, I’ve already spoiled the ending, I bought a Lenovo laptop. But how I got there is what matters.

    My purchase decision took a couple weeks of “Hmmm-ing and Haw-ing,” comparing tech specs and prices. In the later stage of this decision, more detailed answers were needed. Talking to a service agent was the easiest way to get those answers.

    I went through about three separate chat sessions. Only 1 person seemed unfit to answer my questions. The other two were wonderfully knowledgeable and ready to serve.

    The end result: the third agent I chatted with stayed with me for probably 15 minutes (it could have been longer but I was in a time crunch and was ready to make a decision). He answered all of my final questions, gave me a little discount (the laptop was already on sale from Boxing Day), and emailed me a quote.

    When I tried to purchase the laptop, something went wrong with the payment processing. I emailed the agent I had been chatting with to ask what went wrong.

    In response, he called me and we completed the purchase over the phone.

    Because of this agent’s availability, online and over the phone, I am happily writing this comment from a Lenovo laptop.

    Insurance agents could shine with this strategy.

    Provide “Live Chat” options on your website while consumers compare prices. Insurance is so complicated, having that immediate contact online (without have to dial a corporate number, navigate a dial menu, and wait on hold for a few minutes) would provide incredible service

    BUT you then have to be available after the chat as well. Taking the service further, over email and over the phone, if necessary.

    That’s brilliant digital service and fits complex purchase decision like insurance policies.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ Ryan Hanley

      @joelarndt:disqus that is a good tactic. The one issue that many independent insurance agents deal with staffing. If you’re going to have a feature like Live Chat you need to have someone live to respond to questions and comments.

      I definitely don’t disagree with you though. Great suggestion.

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  • Kristina

    Spending time reading over blogs is one of my most favorite past times.
    Honestly I cannot remember where I ran across your blog, other than one of the many sites I peruse.

    Anyway, just wanted to tell you I enjoyed it.
    I hate when people read my blogs and do not comment. So I am making a point to let you know.


    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ Ryan Hanley

      @disqus_o2aRSeiDDT:disqus I’m so glad you enjoyed it and happy you commented. Thank you!

  • terrygo

    I agree millenials as much as anyone wants a relationship and also think it is on their terms. But in my opinion this has to be a authentic relationship and not an “interuption sales call”. Customers need to be nutured over a period of time, they want and expect information sent to them (digitally) to help them in their daily lives. It is no longer a sale followed by an annual review/renewal, it is an ongoing connection that builds trust. Not only does the customer want this information digitally but this is the only cost effective way to create and deliver information on a frequent basis. So it does not matter if you close a customer in person, on the phone or online, it is the ongoing experience that matters. And this is how the agent succeeds (or fails).

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ Ryan Hanley

      @terrygo:disqus 100% agree. It’s all about the relationship (and really always has been) it’s just that what is expected by consumers in the relationship has changed.

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  • Scott J. Smith

    Look at the numbers Ryan. The giants fall. Why? A process “fad” mentality is losing market share. Your both dead on. Face to face or over the phone, relationship builders win everytime. Price is low, great. But when you suck at people, one term is what you get. 10 worst insurance companies, reported this year are losing share. Geico spent 1 billion and change last year…on price ads alone. Nationwide grew by 9 percent or more over two years. Nationwide isn’t cheap. But, with people training, they don’t get near a list like that. Agreed on all. Good point Carrie

  • Andrew

    Great article. I agree with everything you said. Very exciting futures ahead for us all! keep up the good work Ryan and if ever in Charleston, SC do not hesitate to look me up so we can grab a beverage. Cheers.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      I’m going to speaking to the SC Big “I” in May… You should come to that event. It’s going to be awesome. That would be a great time to get a beer.



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  • Ken Hittel

    The elephant in the room here is the disregard of the so-called captive agent & his/her carrier(s). The “enemy” or rather competitor of the independent agent is not just the direct writer, which in fact simply works at the behest of carriers as a lead generator, but the dedicated brand companies. They, too — especially the life companies — have feared for many years losing Millennials (& others) to so-called direct writers, & they have heroically carried the banner of education and relationship as against mere price quotes.
    But know a couple things: 1) There always has been & presumably always will be a (tiny) percentage of the American population who believe they have all this figured out & just need to find the lowest price. It’s really not to the benefit of any independent or captive agent to pursue this “market.” However, this is not the case for carriers, as Allstate’s purchase of esurance signaled recently.
    2) Despite the glaring inadequacy of price as the decision-marker for most Americans, it’s absolutely ridiculous nowadays not to provide price quotes. Not b/c “everyone is doing it,” but b/c, unfortunately, most Americans are so woefully ignorant of “what insurance is & what it does” (to quote Ben Feldman), that you HAVE to give people some sense of how large (or small) the bread basket is. I remember hearing some years ago a top MetLife exec exclaim (& explain); “You’d be surprised how much life insurance you can sell when you tell people what it costs.” Now MetLife is selling direct at their site & through PPC & even attempting a nifty little “insurance box” pilot w/ WalMart. New York Life, which for years proudly & loudly proclaimed “Looking for an online quote? Not at New York Life,” is now providing, guess what/, online quotes.
    Price quotes & direct writers are really not the problem. Failure of the carriers, & of independent & captive agents, to adequately educate the public about insurance, that’s the problem. Oh, & that quote from Ben Feldman? Here’s the whole thing: “If people only understood what insurance is & how it works, we wouldn’t have to sell it; they’d come knocking at our door.”

  • http://giangolainsurance.com Joey Giangola

    Very interesting stuff, as usual.

    Even though I’m late to the party, I have a few things to add/question.

    I completely agree, that regardless of how old you may or may not be, you still want to identify, relate and trust other people and know they are looking out for you. However, the internet has changed peoples expectation of the amount of information that should be available to them. Online quoting, SHOULD only server to validate your services and confirm their curiosity.

    For that reason and that reason alone, I feel it’s important agents provide online quoting on their site. People think they want to buy insurance on their own, online quoting reminds them why they shouldn’t.

    Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

    Does your distaste for online quoting only extend to the front end? I hope so. Every agent should be using some type of comprehensive online quote tool for themselves. Not just to save themselves time, but to provide their clients with the best service.

    Also, I would really like to know why telling a prospect to review their coverage once a year is “bullshit?” Or is just doing it behind a desk “bullshit?” What is wrong with taking some of those traditional messages and presenting them in an online format?

    I have talked with plenty of people who purchased a policy directly online and haven’t touched it in years. They are surprised to know the options that are available to control their increases.

    lastly, I will leave you with one question that has crossed my mind more than once. Does insurance need to be this difficult? It seems blasphemous to say, but has the industry been making things harder than they need to be? I know these questions are a little cannibalistic, but should insurance be easy enough for anyone to buy?

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      Thanks for the thoughts.

      First to you last thought… Insurance is difficult. There is a lot to it even a basic liability only Auto policy. Decisions consumers make has serious ramifications.

      Second, what’s bullshit is the traditional model. We should be in touch with our clients 18-20 times a year delivering value, education, opportunity wherever we can.

      Third, Online self-quoting commoditizes our product. That is why it’s not on our website and at least for the foreseeable future will not be.


      Ryan H.

  • http://www.signeos.com Marie Carter

    Hi Ryan,

    Nice article! I think with millennials, the key is definitely to always remind them of the real value of an agent (on your website, through social sites), communicate with them in a meaningful way, and make it easier for them to do business with you.

    We’ve (Signeos) found that a great way to reach the millennials AND the boomers is to manage relationships through emails as well. Our clients are independent agents, and we enable them to send timely, targeted and meaningful emails to their clients, as well as provide them with an online insurance portal where their clients can manage their policies 24/7. The email templates promote social media through links and announcements, as well as foster the more meaningful communication between the agents/insured. The online portal also delights the clients who are more tech savvy and want to do business online. (Our agents are happy too because the increase in communication has led to higher retention and cross-sales as well.)

    So in all, I think with the combination of a robust and exciting social strategy, a targeted/friendly email communications schedule, and a more interactive online experience – independent agents will be able to adjust to the new world of technology and meet the needs of the clients living in it. Also with all the latest advances in technology, this has become affordable to do.

    If you want to see how our agents are doing this, you can check out our overview vid here:


  • http://www.acadiainsurance.com/blog Jennifer Towne

    I really enjoyed your article! Working on the carrier side, we constantly challenge ourselves regarding how best we can help our independent agents connect with the young and future buyers. I think your warning about the proliferation of online raters is apt – we do our industry no favors by encouraging commoditization!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Amen Jennifer!

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!!

      Ryan H.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/goicm Scott Shappee

    Ryan, are you familiar with Agoragate? http://insuranceagoragate.com/ This is PIA’s sort-of response to CAP. It is different in that it does not have any rater associated with it. It focuses on putting the spotlight on an independent agent in a certain zip code(s) that specializes in a certain line of business. Then really pushing SEO for that agent in that area of local expertise. Pretty slick idea from what I can tell so far!

    • http://www.about.me/javerlin74 Jason Verlinde

      I as well do not like the idea of a true online rater. The vast majority of the time the prospect will do one of two things. 1. They will choose all the lowest limits. or 2. They will enter wrong information.

      They will then get a quote that “Looks Good” and call you to go ahead with it. When you review and correct the entered mistakes or reccommend better coverages you will automatically look like the bad guy. There goes the Relationship (even though you never really had one to start).

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      To be honest, I’d just create my own niche sites for that kind of money. Use wordpress, get a designer and you can’t probably get three great “Microsites” which in my opinion are useless really for 1,700.

      I like ProjectCAP because of the national visibility for the Independent Agent, not the rater… As agents we need to be doing the things we need to do to Market our businesses Online.

      But the national stage that ProjectCAP is on can help bring awareness to who we are and what we do.

      Does that make sense?

      • http://www.goicm.com Scott

        I definitely like the idea of national exposure but my fear is that the lack of functionality of the comparitive rater is going to turn agents off to CAP. I do like the idea of being a “Local Hero” as an independent agent!

        • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

          I think that the “Local Hero” thing is better branding but I still think you alone can build a better presence online…

          Plus no blogging… That’s a big problem.

          Ryan H.

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  • http://brettcohrs.com Brett

    Good stuff, as always. I won’t bemoan my own stunted efforts online, but reading this article reminds of something I was listening to by old Peter Drucker, that it’s imperative that businesses remain entrepreneurial, meaning that they don’t make all decisions based on the present, but invest time, effort, resources in where things might be going. My point is that the pushback I hear is simply this: What’s the ‘immediate’ ROI? They don’t see it as planting seeds, gaining some squatter’s rights, and developing an online resource for people who, even if we don’t show up on general insurance searches, will definitely search for us by name. What will they see when they do so? In my case, they’ll see a bunch of daddy blogging, so I need to get to work. (at least they’ll feel like I’m a normal guy and not solely an insurance man).

    That comment was written over 20 minutes of being pinged by calls and emails and I’m too tired to edit. Hopefully it made some sense!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      Your comment makes perfect sense and it hits at the essence of the entire discussion. Growing a solid Online presence with dedicated subscribers and brand advocates is building EQUITY in the business. Your ability to move an Online crowd is going to be a determining factor in the Valuation of insurance agencies…

      This is stuff is important and you’re doing a great Brett. Give yourself more credit!!

  • http://www.beltzerdimura.com Kerri

    I think to some extent the Millennials have become accustomed to crappy service – they have come to expect and accept it. It doesn’t even occur to them that there is something better out there – that they could be seen as a person and not an account number.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      I would disagree with that for the most part.

      Millenials are just more accustomed to handling things themselves.

      But if it is true then it is the job of independent insurance professionals to show Millenials there is another way. That service is alive and well.


  • http://www.sodeninsurance.com Hal Soden

    Hi Ryan,

    Great article. I agree with everything you said, but I have a slightly diffrent take on CAP (based on your reply to another comment). To me, CAP is less about online quotes, and more about accessing prospects that would otherwise be almost impossible to reach. I’m talking about the person (maybe a Millennial, maybe not) who has the potential to be a great client, but has no clue that we even exist. They’ve called their local Allstate ot State Farm shop, they’ve been to Geico’s website and they’ve seached “car insurance” on google. They want to be protected, and they’d want to do business with us if they knew about us -but they may have not taken the time to notice our tweets or read our blog posts (full disclosure: I don’t consider myself very good at social media, but I do try). Meanwhile, the average indpendent agent gets left with the prospect that found them after getting 8 other quotes (or better – turned down by 8 other insurance companies), the guy that shops his insurance every 6 months and would leave out the door for a lollipop and the neurotic that could probably pass a CPCU exam after asking so many questions (I’d take this client any day over the other two btw). These people are the reason the old guys think the internet is a bunch of crap.

    No doubt about it, we can give ourselves a shot at the good clients by investing time and/or money in SEO, social media, etc, in addition to the traditional networking, referrals, etc. And I think that everything you write about on here is far more important than CAP will ever be, but I can’t say I wouldn’t mind showing up at the top of the list when someone searches for “car insurance”? I could take or leave the online quotes, but we probaly need something to keep the people with short attention spans from bouncing back. Of course, CAP is up against some pretty gnarly competition, and has an even bigger task of trying to convince the old timers to give it a shot. I think even most of us younger guys are having trouble wrapping our heads around it because our mantra has been “stop trying to compete with direct writers” for a few years now. I say we don’t change our mantra, but we add “unless we can”. CAP may not work, but I’ll get behind it because it will be pretty damn awesome if it does.

    Keep up the great work!



    • http://www.sodeninsurance.com Hal Soden

      sorry that mantra should have been, “stop trying to compete with direct writers on their terms”

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      I will admit that to a certain extent my opinion of ProjectCAP has changed a little… I’ve softened my stance.

      Mostly because I think there are so many other benefits besides the rater, most notably and most simply… Awareness!

      However, the rater is a slippery slope. The people who reluctantly take on CAP only to not use it properly and then blame the system when your pipeline isn’t filled with new leads… Those are the people I worry about.

      I think that CAP is a good idea… There just has to be a TON of education packaged around how to use it and be successful.

      Thanks so much for comments… Really great thoughts!

      Ryan H.

  • http://www.chubb.com/personal Jim Fiske

    Bravo. Your emphasis on the evolution of building relationships (which yield trust and advocacy) is the only way the independent agent (and their loyal carriers) will survive the media onslaught delivered by the direct writers.

    Jim Fiske
    US Marketing Manager
    Chubb Personal Insurance

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      Thank you! You just took my 1,500 plus words and packaged them into one powerful sentence… It would have saved me a lot of time if I had just written your sentence! haha

      Seriously though I couldn’t agree with you more… The tools don’t matter it’s way we go about building relationships that will ultimately lead to our success!

      Thank you!!!

  • http://www.tcpinsurance.com Don C. Pickard

    Great Article. As an agency principle, 46 years old, I get it! But once you ‘get it’ what’s next. Here it is, develope meaningful topics to educate your target segment. Have a tag line that get’s attention, once tagged, have the nuts and bolts of your article on your agencies Facebook page. Provide content that is specific to their needs, not a sales pitch. After you have done that, go to http://www.mainstreethub.com and ask for Paul Wade, sales associate. If you really want to make an impact, call MSH and bring the information they send you to the agency owner. You will find out if the agency you work for is willing to put Social Media where it should be; up front and personal. Good luck!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Awesome stuff Don… Thanks so much!!

  • http://www.campharrigan.com Scott Harrigan


    Graat article. You cracked me up when you said ” Review once a year whatever… It’s all bullshit.” No too many articles by insurance people reference bulls.

    It’s amazing that many agencies don’t embrace social media. I have seen agencies say they have a social media policy but don’t let thier staff access it at their offices for they are afraid of the security and viruus issues. It’s contridctory and frankly speaking not working. But what do I know, I’m only 43 years old.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      You are very right. Agencies are scared… They are scared because Online makes them feel uncomfortable and they are losing business because of it. Losing business would make me try just about anything but then again I created an entire blog dedicated to learning this stuff so maybe I’m the anomaly… I wish I wasn’t

      I really appreciate you stopping by… All the best.

      Ryan H.

  • http://www.helpicoinsurance.com Anna

    Hi Ryan,
    Exactly on time and with right alarming tone! I am asking this question myself everyday. Every single day. Do I have to spend so much time to keep myself on track with what’s going out there in internet? I am tiered of sitting behind my computer. But absolutely, this gen M is exactly the way you all sad. I am closing deal or loosing deal with text message. I am not saying it is the best way. Not at all. It is a fact.
    The sad story is that this way they are buying price, not coverage. Here is a place for a whole new market giving/capable to give them info.

    Thank you for talking a loud your thoughts.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley


      You are exactly right. This is how people are communicating and we need to be there. But the importance is adding value and differentiating yourself.


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  • http://twitter.com/insurancesaver Joe Erle

    Thanks for the great article.  Its interesting that you are against an online rater and at the same time, Trusted Choice is investing millions in putting together an online rater for independent agents.  I’m curious how it would work out especially because the independent agency rater is coming in so far behind the direct writers.  I believe that you are spot on a lot of your points and your ideas agree with a lot of the content that I read in The Thank You Economy (by the same guy that wrote Crush It).  There are always going to be price shoppers, but if you actually talk to millennials they will tell you that total value is most important.  Its our job to difference ourselves and find new ways of tapping this market.  Keep up the good work Ryan. 

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ryan-hanley/ Ryan Hanley


      It’s funny that you mention the Trusted Choice CAP system that coming out.  Here is a organization that I love.  I really love Trusted Choice and everything that it stands for and then they create a product that screams… “Hey Consumer! There is absolutely no difference between Independent Agents and Geico…”

      Now a Big I rep would tell you that this rater will allow the consumer to scan multiple carriers… So what it still takes the Independent Agent out the equation.

      Listen, I may not know what I’m talking and I may be completely wrong.  But I live this just like you every day and I don’t want a self-service comparative rater…


      Ryan H.

  • Jeff

    Great write up Ryan.  Competing with the big direct marketers as an independent is a massive waste of time.  Independents will need to heavily rely on social media in the future for building relationships if they want a piece of the online market (which is practically everyone).

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ryan-hanley/ Ryan Hanley

      Exactly! Thanks Jeff!

  • Anonymous

    Great post Ryan. One of your best. I completely agree and think that millinials are extremely relational, just in a new way. Keep up the great work.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ryan-hanley/ Ryan Hanley

      Thanks Brent! You are one of the standard bearers of the insurance industry growing relationships the way Millennials and Pat’s point anyone willing to embrace technology wants to grow a relationship.

      Thank you.

  • http://patalexander.com Pat Alexander


    This post is so “spot on”. I have to tell you I laughed out loud on the one that Millenials don’t respond to brand value. Can anyone say Apple. I could name a whole slew of brands my Millenial grand children respond to and the cost is not cheap.

    Also, their relationships are more than just important to them in conducting their life. I recently lost a client who’s website I had just completed as the program and that particular website was turned over to a new person in the company. A young man with a long friendship through his church with another web designer. He convinced the owner of the firm how much better they would be. Who says they don’t value their relationships.

    As you know I speak to agent groups about similar subjects. You would think that since I am the peer of many of them in age and experience that they might take some of this information seriously. They seem to not grasp how they need to change their business model and are convinced that the direct writers will take all their personal lines business.

    I am with you on the online quoting. I don’t find anyone that will tell me that they are all that reliable. In many of the agencies I have spoken with they find them often more trouble than they are worth.

    My opinion is give them the best information you can at your website (home base) and via other social media outlets. Have your clients post your reviews to your Google Places. People respond to those reviews. Hire some Millenials to write business and be customer servicer staff. I know it works. I have seen it in action.

    Also Millenials are not the only ones that make decisions in this manner. A good number of us baby boomers do the same thing.

    Okay, I am through bleeding on this keyboard for the evening. Keep up the good work.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ryan-hanley/ Ryan Hanley


      You are an oasis of sanity in this mixed up social media world!  This is the type of coordinated effort that independent insurance agents need to rally around.  Use the Internet to build relationships… 

      You were definitely bleeding on the keys… Love it.  Thanks!

      Ryan H.

  • Tim Barnes, CLU

    I am one of the “old guard.”  I have been in insurance since 1987.  I work mainly with Baby Boomers.  My “take” about Millenials is similar to yours but not the same.  I understand their desire to “shop” on line.  Unfortunately, they are ignorant of how bad perils can affect them.  They need a relationship with an agent who can help them understand what their risks are and buy appropriately.  In my opinion, filling out the application is the least important thing agents do.  Our job is not always to help people buy our products.  The value the independent insurance agent has is their ability to help people know what to buy in the first place.  That education process is needed whether our clients are Baby Boomers, Millenials or somewhere in between.  I have no problem with website links directly to insurance companies.  My problem is that people will often use them because it is easy.  When there is a potential loss of time, money and property, the easy way is often not the best way.  My skin crawls when I think that there are people who share the road with me who bought their auto liability on-line and only got the state minimum.  If they hurt me or my family, medical bills will probably not be paid.   I will have to spend my time and money to sue them personally to get my medical bills paid.  Medical costs increase every year but state minimum liability insurance levels do not.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ryan-hanley/ Ryan Hanley

      State minimums scare the hell out of me too Tim… Thanks for the great thoughts!

  • Chip Bacciocco

    Ryan, great article!  As you know, I think your thinking on this topic is right on the money.  I continue to see agents all over the spectrum on this topic; it’s very interesting. But there is an opportunity, as you and I discussed, for those agents that recognize it, to seize a real and lasting competitive advantage here.  It’s going to fun!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ryan-hanley/ Ryan Hanley


      Thank you.  I completely agree there is so much opportunity for the taking if Agents open their eyes and look past what they may not currently understand.

  • Jason

    Nicely done Ryan, but I am still not convinced of your passion in both helping people and using technology to do it (and build those relationships!) [Insert sarcasm emoticon here]

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ryan-hanley/ Ryan Hanley

      Thanks Jay! And I love Sarcasm…

  • Anonymous

    Ah Ryan, beautifully said. Insurance has always been about building relationships. I don’t care if it’s in person or online, the idea is the same. That being said, if you turn a blind eye to the role technology can have in building those relationships, you will do so at your own peril. I see many agents who stick their head in the sand and pretend it’s all “just a fad.” I say get over it. It’s here to stay and you better figure out a way to incorporate social media into your relationship building strategy or you won’t be here long enough to worry about why you’re not attracting new customers or keeping the ones you’ve got. Your customers are out there- you have to be as well.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/ryan-hanley/ Ryan Hanley

      Carrie you hit it right on the head.  “The way we’ve always done it” is not an excuse nor is it a legitimate business plan…

      Thanks Carrie!  You are a standard bearer in the Internet revolution!

    • http://www.insurewiseins.com/ Insure Wise

      Indeed you tend to lose a lot of business if you ignore social marketing.

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