Recently I was asked to comment on how - if at all - Ahoy! engages with insurance agents, whether they be independent P&C or Specialized Recreational Marine agents. You might be wondering, why does Ahoy! need agents when we could engage directly with our customers through our sophisticated online system? To me, the answer is simple: agents are at the core of the insurance industry and could (and should) play a major role in Ahoy’s success. Here’s why.
Ahoy!’s relationship with the agent is a two-way value proposition. Our agents have highly specialized knowledge of their customers based on long experience with them. They know their customers best - their needs, insurance history, preferences, locality and other factors that are key to best engaging with these customers. We care about our customers (and prospects) and whatever the best way is for them to engage with us is the best way for us to engage. If this is through their trusted insurance agents, we are not only willing but are happy to do so.
Independent agents also bring fresh input about trends and what features and services our customers need (or don’t want) and how to best package and sell a policy. This feedback from the field helps Ahoy! constantly improve our offering and maintain a competitive edge.
Moreover, we truly believe that Ahoy!’s offering is the best and most unique available out there for boaters. Ahoy! offers a new type of insurance experience for boaters, and this benefits agents too. By providing technology and information to the customers, we help reduce the risk of mishaps and improve boaters’ experience on the water. This enables agents to offer their customers a superior experience and product as part of their existing portfolio - and the added value of introducing their customers to a new and innovative type of insurance. In other words, we provide our partner agents the ability to differentiate themselves by better serving their customers.
At Ahoy!, we know that providing our partner agents the best-of-breed insurance product is only the first step in bringing them value. The other part is making their lives as simple as possible, saving them time and money. That's why we thoughtfully design our ongoing engagement with insurance agents. On Ahoy!’s landing page, agents have the option to easily enroll with Ahoy! through a simple process. The registration includes appointing the agent, verifying the agent’s license documentation, and setting up an account in Ahoy!’s agent portal. We also reach out to agents through various networks in states where Ahoy! is already live. All of this makes joining forces a breeze.
Once an agent is appointed with Ahoy!, we provide onboarding sessions, webinars and ongoing support through our dedicated in-house team. We also distribute a monthly agents newsletter covering new trends, features and system changes. Our agents are invited to provide feedback to help us continually improve the process. The agents portal provides a one-stop shop where an agent can benefit from our fast quoting process that’s easy to learn and use. Within the same portal, the agent can manage all of his/her quotes, policies and customers related to Ahoy!.
We know that some agents may be wary of carriers, especially new ones, in light of their past experience with existing ones (including a major one that recently dumped all of its agents cold). Two questions might arise: 1. Why trust a new insurance company to not do the same? 2. Will this new carrier still be afloat in a year or two? Fair questions.
As to the first question, I believe that actions speak volumes. Ask our partner agents and I'm sure they will attest to the amount of energy and resources we invest in these relationships. But we go beyond that. Even though we engage many customers directly (without an agent) we truly believe that having an agent in the mix will better all parties. That is why, just as agents bring their own customers to Ahoy!, we enable customers to bring us their own agent! A customer may refer his/her existing agent to Ahoy! and we can work with the agent to issue the policy, including paying the agent his/her fee. Show me another carrier with direct-to-consumer operations that does that!
As for the second question, my answer is look at the “big guys” in the value chain, the Reinsurers. Would they partner with us and risk being left with orphan policies if Ahoy! goes bust? Yet, after conducting formidable due diligence on Ahoy!, many have decided to work with us. I could elaborate about our serious financial backing and much more, but I believe the above is really the best answer.
Staying engaged with our agent network goes beyond lip service and requires significant effort and investment by our in-house agents, the product development team, and right up through the CEO (me). In addition to attending industry events such as https://www.dealerweek.com/, I have near-term plans for a road show to meet with many of our existing and prospective agents and to share Ahoy!’s vision and plans for the future of recreational boat insurance.This also gives me a chance to hear unfiltered feedback from the agent network.
The way I see it, we’re all in the same boat, and our partner agents are an important part of the Ahoy! crew.
If you would like to speak directly or set up a time to meet, I invite you to contact me at: [email protected].