The hard market has presented a number of challenges for property and casualty insurance agents, particularly when it comes to acquiring new customers. As carriers search for greater profitability, they’ve turned to raising rates in certain states—or pausing policy sales in those states entirely. As you might imagine, that’s made it quite difficult for agents hoping to acquire new customers.
In this environment, it’s become more important than ever for agents to connect with the exact shoppers they want to reach, right when they want to reach them. Our browse-and-buy feature helps agents achieve this by empowering them to purchase individual leads à la carte from a continuously updated feed of fresh leads—with deep transparency into the details of each consumer.
We recently spoke with William Orr, an independent agent based in the Atlanta area, about how he’s using browse-and-buy to carefully select leads he’ll be able to quote at a competitive rate in a challenging marketplace.
MediaAlpha: How long have you been working in the insurance business?
William Orr: I’ve been working full-time since 2018. I began at State Farm out of college, in a program where you start as a salesperson while training to become an agent. I ended up going independent after about three and a half years in that position, starting in January 2022.
Now, I’m partnered with a more experienced agent. We work independent of each other, but I use the infrastructure they have—their online systems, their appointments, all of that. I’m more or less on my own, particularly when it comes to acquiring new customers.
MA: How long have you been buying internet leads?
WO: I never had to purchase leads at my last job, but we’d sit down and talk about which providers were working and which ones weren’t. Part of my job was basically trying to match up what State Farm was looking for with the leads that would give us a strong return on investment. I started buying leads right when I went independent. Now, my lead buying is all about figuring out what the companies I represent are good at, and what my advantages are in the market.
MA: What do you like about buying leads with MediaAlpha’s browse-and-buy feature?
WO: What I like about it is essentially you can be pickier in terms of what you want. For instance, I’m able to look through and say, “I’m only going to buy leads for consumers in multi-car households.” I would rather quote those than a one-car household because, all things being equal, that sale is going to bring in more premium and the consumer will be easier to keep and less likely to move around. I’m trying to use the filters to determine exactly what I want, and then I try to cherry pick those exact leads.
I buy around 15-20 leads per week with browse-and-buy, and I close about 1-2 of those on average. The number may sound low, but the return on investment is amazing.
MA: How has the hard market impacted your business, and how is browse-and-buy helping you adapt?
WO: The hard market makes it a little bit tougher for me because the carriers I represent are not as competitive in the standard and substandard markets as they were even six months ago. Any substandard markets are just so unprofitable right now that carriers are willing to lose business to try to get profitable again. Some are raising rates very high, and others are pulling out of these markets entirely.
What’s nice about browse-and-buy is you can look and say, “It’s this city, it’s this area, or they’re a homeowner, or they say their credit is good.” All those things you can look at and say, “I’m more likely to give this person a better quote.” So I’m using it to experiment with different profiles of leads.
For instance, one thing I have looked at is people in their 40s and 50s who don’t have active insurance, but they live out in the country. For whatever reason, the insurance companies are sometimes more likely to consider these shoppers a little bit less risky than if they lived in Atlanta. I have a couple companies who will give them pretty good quotes, and they don’t have active insurance to compete against. So if I can give them a quote they like, they’re more likely to pull the trigger.
MA: As a one-man shop, do you take advantage of the scheduling flexibility you get from browse-and-buy?
WO: Yes. A lot of times, overnight is good for me. If I’m not super busy in the mornings, I’ll come in and look at the leads that are available and buy 2-4 of them.
I’ve always felt people get home from work between 6 p.m. and 1 a.m. And they’re sitting at home thinking, “Ah, I’ve got to do something about my insurance.” And they’ll fill out the lead then, and it will go into the system.
If I can get ahold of people like that, I can move my schedule around so I can be available at 7 p.m. the next day. I can have dinner with my wife, and then if someone asks me to call them, I can call them. If them filling out a lead form at 8 p.m. means I need to call them at 8 p.m, I can do that if I need to.
Want to learn more about how browse-and-buy can help you grow your business? Let’s talk.
William Orr is just one of many agents who are using our transparent, flexible, and on-demand browse-and-buy option to identify the right consumers and convert them into new customers.
If you’d like to find out how you can use this feature to grow your agency business and beat back the hard market, we’d be more than happy to help. Just reach out to your client success manager to set up a meeting. Or, if you’re not yet a MediaAlpha for Agents client, schedule a time to speak with us on our website.