Disruptive forces are pushing into the business of insurance in a big way. In many of the pronouncements from the usurpers and commentators, brokers are pictured as dull artifacts from a long-past time. Some brokers are emulating the digital pioneers. But is the reality of customer experience a bit more nuanced?
Brokers Embracing InsurTech
Jeff Roy is CEO and Owner of Excalibur Insurance Group, a multi-office brokerage in southwestern Ontario. Personally, I think Jeff should have the title of Evangelist on his card. Jeff is constantly talking, writing, and graphing reasons why brokers become more productive and profitable by adopting technology and discarding manual processing of insurance documents.
Jeff’s most recent thrust has been how brokers can adopt the InsurTech philosophies and technologies and make the changes that make the difference. Jeff is big on change, as you can see from his latest LinkedIn post. Here’s a sample:
Our industry has been decaying and we need to stop it. Its not the people who feel entitled or the one who puts up the biggest wall that wins in the market place, it’s the one who adapts to change who survive as Charles Darwin told us back in 1809.
Are you experienced?
Jeff is convinced that focussing on Customer Experience is the solution for brokers. Jeff cites examples from the emerging InsurTech world – including Lemonade, Trov, MetroMile – that are disrupting the existing insurance model by creating an experience that strongly appeals to a segment of users.
For example, Trov lets you “Protect just the things you want – exactly when you want – entirely from your phone.” Not my cup of tea, but certainly the customer experience is appealing to a segment of the population.
And Jeff ‘s mantra is that brokers should use solutions, not policies, as a template. “Its not about building a better auto insurance policy it is about building a better auto protecting experience ?”
But is experience a sine qua non?
Not for me, apparently.
I’ve had my personal and small business insurance with the same brokerage for the last 20 years (maybe more). I’ve moved three times, had changes to scheduled items, swapped 3 cars in and out.
The broker reached out to me once when the carrier came through with a bundled product. I took his advice.
Since I signed up, I’ve received a paper letter once a year and made a phone call to the brokerage with less frequency. I don’t think about the broker and suspect he doesn’t think about me. We occasionally see each other at industry events.
I would not rate any of this as an ‘experience.’
But there was a Friday afternoon…
Insurance-Canada.ca produces events. A few years back, we changed venues for one of our events and had some friction points with the manager of the new event facility. These came to a head the Friday before a Monday event when the manager of the conference facility called and said, “We don’t have a certificate for coverage on the exhibit hall.”
In the past, we had been indemnified by the facilities we used, but not this time. And the facility wasn’t open to getting confirmation of coverage over the weekend. We either produced the certificate that afternoon or we would have to tell 500 people that the show was off.
Now this was an ‘experience’.
In a last-ditch effort, I reached one of the producers from my broker’s office sitting in a restaurant. That was around 12:30 PM. The broker had never handled our corporate insurance.
By 3:30, the certificate of insurance had been delivered. The manager from the facility had gone home, but we found a staffer who signed off on the papers allowing us in on Monday.
I am reasonably certain that the commission for the policy endorsement and issuance of the cert would have paid for the producer’s lunch, but not much more.
So, what’s the point?
Jeff is spot on about the need to embrace digital and become comfortable with continuous change. But not at the expense of flexibility and expertise.
If the sacrifice for Experience Version 3.0 is to lose the flexibility and commitment of the broker who is not quite digital, but willing to do what’s necessary, then I think we are raising the white flag without knowing it.
What do you think?