Insurance Consumers Needs in 2013: Are Brokers Meeting Them?

By Patrick Durepos, President, Keal Technology

(Nov. 16, 2013) – Canadian brokers provide a choice for their clients and or prospects, in addition to serving as trusted advisors. There is no debate on this statement, but is it enough to keep and or attract new clients? I am of the opinion that unfortunately, in 2013, it is not enough. Then what is lacking?

In March of this year, I attended a presentation focusing on an IBM survey with over a thousand participants. This Canada-wide survey concentrated in part on consumer buying habits for home and auto insurance, and compared these buying habits between direct writers and broker company insurers. The survey concluded many interesting facts amongst which; consumers value and choose brokers for choice and their advisory role, and consumers are choosing direct writers for speed and ease of doing business. On the ease of doing business with broker companies, an overwhelming majority (70% +) require the ability to do simple transactions with brokers, i.e. address change, billing change, policy change, report a claim, and all in real-time. Broker consumers (upwards of 65%) indicated they wanted to do these transactions 24/7 from the device they choose, whether Web, Smart Phones, Tablets etc… Unfortunately today, most brokers are not providing this ease of doing business.

Canadian Underwriter published a must-read article on this subject on July 19, 2013. Although restricted to Quebec and Ontario, and smaller in size, the conclusions are the same. The article is appropriately entitled “Serve them before you lose them.” Here are a few quotes from the article:

  • Deloitte suggested in the report that insurance customers want online capabilities to handle ‘simple tasks’ that do not require a live conversation with a representative of the carrier. He added insurance customers “are starting to get used to the type of online capabilities provided by banks – the insurers’ financial-sector peers … they are expecting the same level of capability, and it’s just not there.”
  • More than half of respondents (52%) would switch insurance companies if they could get “greater online capability which should be a frightening number to some of the carriers out there that have no strategy around how they are going to go online or how they are going to serve their policyholders. As the direct carriers get more prevalence, they will naturally provide these capabilities,” Patterson said.
  • Carriers ‘lag’ in their online offerings and are not meeting the expectations of customers younger than 40 with post-secondary education, according to the report. Patterson said, “We feel a lot of insurance carriers have looked the other way on providing some of these capabilities, on the assumption that the brokers are responsible for it but I think the overall theme of this survey shows that policyholders have an expectation of this capability. Brokers aren’t providing it therefore carriers need to find a way to provide it.”
  • “The preferences did not vary as far as what people wanted based on their channel of purchase … meaning if you were a broker-based versus direct … it wasn’t statistically different, what you wanted from the carrier” Patterson said.
  • But “virtually none of the respondents’ carriers provided the online services that the respondents wanted,” Patterson said.

In conclusion, brokers, insurers, and broker software companies know exactly what is requested by consumers. We know that our market share in personal lines is dwindling steadily and surely. As President of Keal Technology, I know that the technology is there and available today to answer consumer demands. As an owner of a Canadian brokerage, I know that we can not only reverse the market share trend in personal lines but turn this trend to our favour.

Brokers must lobby and demand from their major insurers a commitment to invest in real-time mobility access for their insurance consumers. My optimism is that this short article becomes a “call to action” for brokers across Canada:

  • I urge you to ask your clients – 52% and 70% are large consumer demand percentages.
  • Keal and Unica now have automated real-time policy changes, soon this will be available to Unica insured’s – we need more insurers to offer this service to their brokers.
  • Brokers excel at lobbying – I suggest you write to your provincial associations, your insurance company presidents and representatives, to demand immediate action and investment on real-time initiatives.

Keal is dedicated to doing its share of the work in order to make this happen – making brokers more efficient, more profitable, increasing their market share and ultimately staying in business. But we cannot do it without you, the brokers.

About Keal

Keal Technology is a leader in the BMS (Broker Management Systems) and CMS (Commercial Management Systems) in the Canadian marketplace for insurance and financial services brokers. They offer an integrated suite of products designed to increase revenue through efficient use of technology. For more information, visit www.keal.com.

SOURCE: Keal Technology