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New study shows opportunities for agents to strengthen relationships with personal lines customers

Nationwide Agent Authority: consumers share how agents can support their needs, especially on pricing and policy explanations

Columbus, OH  The latest research from Nationwide’s Agent Authority study highlights areas of opportunity for agents at a time when economic uncertainty has 84% of consumers reevaluating their budgets and insurance coverages*.

Consumers agree that working with a trustworthy and accessible agent is a priority, but there are gaps agents can address to enhance these relationships.

Nationwide uncovered three themes in this study:

  • What customers want: Consumers are looking for guidance and support from their agents, not just on insurance products.
  • Shared challenges: Personal lines customers struggle to understand their policy. Agents feel a similar challenge when it comes to helping them bridge this knowledge gap.
  • Economic outlook: Customers are looking for guidance as the economy creates uncertainty.

“Our most recent Agent Authority survey shows agents are bringing immense value to consumers, especially in times with so much uncertainty,” said Jeff Rommel, Senior Vice President of Property and Casualty Sales and Distribution at Nationwide. “Consumers are identifying new opportunities for agents to step up and strengthen relationships at a time when their personal lines clients are taking a closer look at their insurance needs.”

What Customers Want:

Customers want to know they have the right coverage and the right price. The research identified consumers and agents are aligned in prioritizing the qualities of a good agent, including being trustworthy, providing strong customer service and being cost-effective. However, customer needs don’t stop there.

  • 44% of consumers are reviewing one or more of their insurance policies.
  • 31% looked further into what their insurance policy covers.
  • 26% checked with their agent to discuss coverage.
  • 13% of consumers asked their agent to look at different carriers to find a better price or coverage.
  • Consumers are looking to agents for more than just insurance. Some are looking for guidance on topics like retirement (26%) and cybersecurity (16%).
  • Consumers are evenly split in their preference for a physical vs. digital experience with their agent. 51% prefer to have an agent where they’re located. 49% prefer to handle all insurance needs digitally.

Quick tips for agents:

  • Staying up-to-date on industry trends and innovative technology like telematics can help you offer customers a solution to pay for insurance based on their personal driving habits – including how much and how safely they drive.
  • The Nationwide Retirement Institute offers a wide range of retirement planning resources.
  • Consider proactively offering products like identity theft insurance.
  • Nationwide Express enables agents to complete sales in as little as two minutes, making it quick and easy to offer multi-line quoting, over the phone, through their web site or even through their mobile device.

Shared Challenges:

The research identified two consistent challenges across all consumers surveyed – understanding policy coverage and finding the best price. While most customers seek educational counsel on insurance types and coverages, they perceive that some agents could deliver more guidance.

  • 45% of consumers say it’s a challenge to find the best price for their needs; 57% of agents say they struggle to maintain clients because of pricing.
  • Nearly half (47%) of consumers said it is a challenge to understand what is and what is not covered in their policy.55% of agents are challenged to educate clients on the level of coverage they need; 52% of agents have difficulties helping customers understand the different types of coverages.

Quick tips for agents:

  • Help your clients understand that price is only one of several important considerations when evaluating insurance. While sometimes there is a better price out there, it is important to weigh the financial commitment against the best protection option.
  • Look to your carrier partners for tools to help you educate clients on key insurance topics.

Economic Outlook:

Consumers are nervous about the economy and say they will be reassessing their insurance needs as a result. Over half of agents think their clients feel uncomfortable talking about economic uncertainty. While not easy conversations to have, agents feel they are prepared and have the resources to discuss economic uncertainty with their clients. On the reverse side, consumers highlighted an opportunity for agents to demonstrate their knowledge to build trust.

  • 47% of consumers indicate they have or will be reassessing their insurance needs because of economic uncertainty.
  • 56% of consumers believe their agent is prepared to discuss economic uncertainty and 59% believe their agent has the resources to do this.

Quick tip for agents:

  • Nationwide offers regular economic updates from the office of our Chief Economist to help agents have informed conversations about the future of the economy with their clients.

*These insights and more were uncovered through Nationwide’s ongoing Agent Authority research series, which includes samples of independent insurance agents, various business owners, and consumers. Previous Agent Authority research reports: Agent-customer relationship; Small business owner needs and challenges; Middle market business owner needs and challenges; Agents' top concerns through the pandemic.


Nationwide commissioned Edelman Intelligence to conduct a 20-minute quantitative online survey among a sample of 2,600 U.S. independent insurance agents, small business owners, mid-market business owners, mid-market business owners with fleet vehicles, African American business owners, Hispanic business owners and general consumers between June 9 – June 25 to understand what business owners and consumers value when buying or renewing insurance policies, explore the different challenges each audience faces around insurance, gauge perceptions of the economy and how each audience is managing uncertainty, and find out the actions business owners and consumer have taken as a result of COVID-19 and the conversations they’re having with agents. As a member of CASRO in good standing, Edelman Intelligence conducts all research in accordance with Market Research Standards and Guidelines.

About Nationwide

Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the United States. Nationwide is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. An industry leader in driving customer-focused innovation, Nationwide provides a full range of insurance and financial services products including auto, business, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities and mutual funds; excess & surplus, specialty and surety; pet, motorcycle and boat insurance. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.