The results are based on a pandemic poll conducted across the U.S. on April 15-16 with approximately 200 agents responding
In its annual survey of thousands of independent agents across the U.S., Channel Harvest found that overall staff morale remains “good or excellent” amidst the COVID-19 pandemic based on slightly more than half of the respondents surveyed. With that said, the same survey noted that many agents were worried about the longer-term impact of policy cancellations on their agencies.
The somewhat unexpected results
According to the results of the Channel Harvest survey, a mere 9% of independent agents reported low morale among their employees, which translates into a rating between 0-3 on the scale, while less than half, approximately 38%, said there was average morale among staff (4-6 on the scale). On the other hand, more than half of respondents, totaling about 53% said that morale was good, meaning a rating between 7-10. Channel Harvest noted that this fact was surprising, particularly based upon the number given for declining agency revenues and other personal stresses.
Some 53% said morale is good (7-10), perhaps a surprising number given declining agency revenues and personal stresses, Channel Harvest noted.
The pandemic-focused poll was conducted from April 15-16, 2020, and asked independent agents to rate the overall feelings and morale amongst their agency’s workforce based on the following criteria of 0 (terrible) to 10 (wonderful). Approximately 200 independent insurance agents were surveyed for the annual survey.
Other facts and trends noted from the survey
The following are a few of the other shifts and trends that Channel Harvest gleaned from the survey results:
About half of respondents reported agency revenue is unchanged since the crisis started in early March, Channel Harvest found. But some 41% saw a decrease. Ten percent actually posted an increase of revenue during the crisis.
Business interruption coverage has been a top discussion topic for clients, 74% of respondents said. Customers also are asking about auto (50% of agents reported) and workers compensation (38%).
Other coverages noted as top discussion items: commercial property and general liability (15% each) and health and home insurance (14% each). Loss-of-use on rental property also was cited as a top discussion topic by 7% of agents.
Agents were asked to consider their most-effective methods for communicating about COVID-19 related matters with customers and answering policy or service questions. Email dominates, with nearly 90% choosing that as a top method to reach clients. Phone calls were next, at 81%, followed by texting (30%), video chat (14%), and social media (13% each). Lower numbers cited agency U.S. Mail and website content as their top tools.
In open-ended responses, many agents offered an unsettling outlook as the pandemic’s economic impact unfolds across the U.S. Here are some related comments:
- “It’s too soon to see changes in revenue. As the months grind on, I expect sharp declines as the out-of-work shed extra vehicles and optional expenses. Those who still are working are also likely to cut back on optional expenses.”
- “The worst is probably yet to come for p-c agencies doing commercial insurance.”
- “Activity has diminished for new policies, many calls about reducing existing policy premiums, slower pay of bills, reducing agency income. I reduced staff pay 25% (lower hours) while working from home.”
- “New business has come to a stop.”
- “We have a lot of hospitality business, which has closed down so we are lowering payroll where we can. I expect a huge reduction of income in the next three months.”
On the brighter side, many respondents are optimistic about the new way of working from home. A sampling:
- “As insurance professionals, we have made careers out of being prepared for the worst-case scenarios. We were already prepared for staff to work remotely long ago, just in case there was ever a disaster that prevented us from accessing our office. Additionally, our flexibility has been a selling point for clients — they are recognizing and acknowledging that our ability to work from home, provide them the same service level they have come to expect with minimal disruption, and our willingness to make accommodations for them — all of this is a service level that far exceeds anything they would get from a faceless online insurance provider.”
- “We already had most of our staff working at least part-time from home as a way to reduce our footprint of necessary office space as we grew. So, switching to full-time work from home has not been too much of a stretch.”