Can Westchester's Local Insurance Firms Survive the Internet Age?

With the omnipresence of technology and online shopping in the 21st century, one thing is for certain: businesses of all kinds need to stay on their toes to keep up with ever-changing consumer trends. Where face-to-face customer service was once a necessity, shoppers now have the ability to use computers and mobile apps to get whatever they need. And this online and mobile transformation is hitting transactions in all corners of industry—even previously in-person-only strongholds like insurance.

When travel agents faced pressure from an emerging Internet presence several years ago, their business model was changed (and sometimes eradicated) for good. But insurance company executives in Westchester insist that they won’t fall victim to the same fate.

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EFK Insurance & Risk Management President Brian Eifert

“Insurance contracts are client specific and an understanding of each client’s lifestyle, activities, hobbies, and exposures needs to be carefully evaluated. This cannot be done via an online quick quote,” says Brian Eifert, president of EFK Insurance & Risk Management, with offices in Yorktown Heights and Pelham. “Our agency ‎has not changed its model or philosophy in response to online shopping.”

Concerns about the future of the traditional insurance agency model were heightened when Google introduced Google Compare, an insurance shopping site of its own in March. With a new online marketplace that compares insurance quotes at the click of a button, many began to wonder how traditional agencies would fare.

Rey Insurance Associate Linda Rey 

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Linda Rey, an associate at Rey Insurance Agency in Sleepy Hollow, confidently avows the importance of insurance agents despite the advent of online insurance.

“It’s one thing if you’re on a dating website and you’re ok with relying on algorithms, but people don’t want to rely on algorithms when dealing with their personal insurance policies,” she says.

This, of course, doesn’t mean that insurance agencies will work in opposition to technological trends; Rey adds that her company has a mobile app and that all companies will eventually be expected to maintain a mobile presence. However, given the nature of insurance, she believes that technology can’t do the job by itself.

“With insurance, you really want to speak to a live person, especially with so many types of insurance that you can have,” she says.

Though the field of selling insurance is certainly changing with the times, agencies in Westchester and beyond are in no way calling it quits. The presence of online purchasing options may increase in the near future, but these agency executives stand by their ability to provide customers with highly customized insurance planning and assistance well into the future.

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