The first thing anyone who wants their agency to survive the next five or ten years needs to understand is this: you cannot deliver a cheaper price to a customer than a computer algorithm can. If that's your value proposition, you're through, inevitably.
The second thing one needs to understand is that the customer, for anything including insurance, values the "experience" more with each passing day. They simply will not tolerate having that experience in a way that doesn't delight them. If they want to talk to their agent on Sunday morning, and they do, they won't tolerate a phone message that says call back Monday (not to mention a message that says "coverage cannot be bound by voicemail..." - in today's world, and increasingly in the future, the consumer's attitude is "why the hell not?").
The third thing we all need to get through our heads is a customer, who only buys one or two things from you, probably can't remember your name and is going to be very easily dislodged from your agency.
BUT! Not everyone wants to buy online (although almost everyone shops there before buying - so having a robust, useful presence there is critical). In fact, the Millennial generation, who will be the dominant customers of the next quarter century, want personal interaction, advice, and support from actual human beings.
So, if you are prepared to deliver delightful service, you can and will prosper!
What does delightful service look like? Well, it's available 24/7/365 for starters. In short, it's about the customer - not you. It's attentive service from people who have a deep, personal understanding of each customer. It is service for someone who has made a reciprocal investment in the relationship with you by buying a lot of different things from you. It involves personal follow up on claims, participation in their life through social media, and relevance to them beyond a transaction.
Technology, which threatens the small agent’s survival, is also the tool that will allow the astute agent, who is willing to evolve, to prosper in ways unthinkable in the past. So, what is coming at us is either scary as hell or tremendously exciting! Which is it for you?