Real success.

TrustedChoice.com has been through many iterations in our mission to support the independent insurance industry.

In many regards TrustedChoice.com is a barometer for independent agent digital success. As we approach the second anniversary of our website redesign, we continue to see great progress.

We’re currently on pace to hit 235,000 visitors for the month of April. That’s 235,000 insurance buyers informed on the value an independent insurance agent provides.

Prior to changing the focus of the site in July of 2013, TrustedChoice.com received between 10,000 – 12,000 visitors per month.

Although there was an agent look-up capability, the site messaging was mixed, and it was difficult to determine whose needs the site was intended to serve. Although we don’t have good statistics, it is probable that at most a few handfuls of insurance buyers used the agency look-up every month.

This means no leads.

Our projections for April have us delivering over 5,600 online referrals to local insurance agents.

TrustedChoice.com in service of independent agents

TrustedChoice.com is now completely focused on attracting the insurance buyer. We have published over 2,900 pages of content.

These pages are designed to help an insurance buyer gain familiarity with critical insurance issues, and also to direct them to an independent agent to purchase a policy that covers their needs.

A second benefit to these pages is that they are search engine optimized, meaning that they rank well in a Google search (the site is optimized for Local SEO).

Together, these efforts have allowed TrustedChoice.com to become one of the top insurance resource on the web.

TrustedChoice.com now shows up on page one of Google’s search results for over 2,600 insurance terms.

In 2014, we had 1.8 million visitors to TrustedChoice.com, and we are certain to crush that number in 2015. But it isn’t only traffic where we are seeing progress.

Last month, we delivered over 5,200 inbound referrals to member agencies. These referrals come in two forms:

  • Emailed forms to the agency
  • Phone calls direct to the agency

We find that a significant percentage of the referrals are actually picking up the phone and calling the agency. All of these prospects have made a conscious decision to pick a specific agency, so it’s no wonder our closing percentages are so high.

Real Success: $250,000 in New Business to Local Agency

Referrals from TrustedChoice.com close at much higher rate than cold leads because in most instances, the buyer has done their research before reaching out to the agency.

For more details on how to create relationships with Online Insurance Buyers read How to Build Relationships from TrustedChoice.com Referrals.

As proof, recently we heard from an agency in Washington state who has now written $250,000 in premiums from TrustedChoice.com referrals.

Frank Rodriguez of Sound Business Insurance in Gig Harbor, Washington told us of his latest $ 30,000 sale:

The customer was committed to using a Trusted Choice agent before we even spoke on the phone.” He later added that “The largest referral I have closed from TrustedChoice.com was a $72,000 trucking company.”

Since signing up in July of 2014, Sound Business Insurance has received 26 email referrals, and our research tells us that in addition, on average, an agency receives 1.2 phone referrals for each emailed one. As evidence of the ongoing growth of the site, 60% of those referrals to the agency have come since January 1, 2015.

In the last 30 days alone, Sound Business Insurance’s profile has been returned in search 261 times, and twelve prospects opened the contact form to reach out to the agency.

Within the industry, TrustedChoice.com continues to enjoy real success. Which means real success for independent insurance agents.

A significant number of agencies are participating, with over 3,250 personal and commercial Advantage profiles displayed to consumers. In addition, 51 carrier brands now participate, from national carriers to single-state domiciles.

This level of support is beginning to make good on one of our channel’s primary values: giving the insurance buyer the option of choice.

Insurance Carriers: Support Growing

On the insurance carrier front, it is vital that we gain participation from strong regional and national brands. If a carrier is marketing to consumers, those consumers may wonder why that brand isn’t represented when they research on TrustedChoice.com.

Equally as important is that agencies wonder why their leading carriers aren’t supporting the industry effort (If you can believe it, there are a few major carrier brands still not on the platform).

Current Advantage subscriber agents regularly ask us when their favorite carriers will be coming on board. In order to gauge that interest, we recently surveyed Advantage subscriber agents and asked them which carrier partners they would like to see on TrustedChoice.com.

Advantage Agent Survey Results

In February 2015, we sent a nine-question survey to agency participants, and asked them about their experiences with on and off-line marketing and their thoughts on TrustedChoice.com.

Our response rates for the survey were very good, exceeding 12 percent, and seven out of 10 respondents were principals in the agency.

One of our more interesting findings was that over one third of responding agencies are still using the Yellow Pages. Even more surprising is that almost 70 percent of respondents indicate that they continue to purchase Yellow Page listings, even though they are getting poor results.

Other key findings include:

  • 90 percent of respondents rate their agency website as on-par with most other agencies.
  • Almost three quarters of responding agencies say they regularly use the Trusted Choice® brand.

When we asked agencies which carriers they would like to join, we received an enthusiastic response.

By far, the most requested carrier was The Hartford, with almost half of all respondents requesting their participation. A surprising second on the list was Auto-Owners Insurance, with over one quarter of agencies requesting them.

Although Hanover Insurance is a current participant, they appeared in third place with just under a 25 percent request rate. They, like a number of other carriers, are participating in a limited number of states.

Those agencies in unsupported states are clearly asking their key carrier partners to expand their footprint.

Rounding out the top ten in order are: Encompass, CNA, MAPFRE, Kemper, Cincinnati, National General and Zurich.

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Although our initial survey was nationwide, we did have significant requests for regional carriers, so we are working on a follow-up survey that will be more regional in nature in order to determine which carriers would be valuable in a number of markets, for example the South East or North West.

Long Story Short

Google’s entry into the insurance marketplace is just the latest indication that the staid business of insurance is in the midst of considerable change.

Consumer behavior confirms that insurance buyers are shopping online, evaluating options, and connecting with independent agencies.

This trend is accelerating, and TrustedChoice.com is perfectly positioned to take advantage of these changes.

Although some insurance companies are taking individual action to address this challenge, some are confused as to where to start. While others are hoping new insurance buyer behaviors are a fad.

A segment of carriers believe their unique circumstances indicate that their customers won’t exhibit these traits, and thus their agencies are immune to the threat.

Insurance companies can help stem the tide by either joining their agencies with TrustedChoice.com, or by expanding their existing state participation footprint on the site. This support will encourage additional agencies to participate, and lead to further success.

Joining TrustedChoice.com is the most cost effective and easiest way to begin to address the threat of new entrants into the insurance industry, to support your agencies, and to write business from a segment that you aren’t addressing.

Thank you,

Marty Agather

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