Neither innovation nor chasing new business rank high on the list of priorities for independent property and casualty insurance agents, a study from Accenture reveals. The majority of these agents focus on servicing existing customers even though they are increasingly aware that competition from online direct sales threatens their book of business.

Accenture surveyed more than 1,100 P&C agents, asking them a range of questions related to their business. Nearly three-quarters said online direct sales were putting pressure on pricing, and nearly four in 10 of respondents cited such online selling as their No. 1 competitor for new business. Nearly half said online marketers were developing strong brands and effective sales techniques that were proving to be difficult to compete against.

These agents listed "web-based service and claims" and of "web-based quoting" as their top digital capability priorities, ranking mobile and social media solutions much lower.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.