If It’s Not Mobile, Don’t Bother

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By Tyler Sullivan, X by 2

Toronto, ON (Jan. 4, 2018) – A plethora of articles have been written on how the insurance industry should engage with younger generations of potential customers. Whether millennial, Gen X or Y or anything in-between, the industry has rightly recognized a shift in the research and buying patterns of younger consumers. As a millennial, this change has everything to do with growing up as near digital natives and thus having a different kind of relationship with technology and time than prior generations might have had. For most of the millennial generation then, that means that if it’s not possible to use a mobile device to manage a relationship with an insurer, then we’d just as soon move on, thank you very much.

Now before devolving into stereotypical clichés about what a millennial may or may not want, and why or why not that may be, it’s important to understand that just like every prior generation, the millennial generation has their way of relating to the world around them. Objectively speaking, those ways are neither good nor bad; they’re just the way the millennial perspective has evolved. So let’s get specific. My generation has grown up in a world where researching and purchasing things (meals, books, cars, houses) can be accomplished online exclusively via mobile devices.  It should come as a shock to exactly nobody in the insurance industry that the same expectation for researching and purchasing would hold true for insurance. However, since that is not entirely possible at this point, it should also come as no surprise that most millennials tend to just skip the whole insurance thing, at least for now. This is due to many other influences as well, but online accessibility and ease of access remain the key prohibitors in millennials actively seeking insurance. That said, there is an opportunity here. As the millennial generation gets on with their lives, insurers who develop viable mobile interfaces along with targeted products and services can reap the financial rewards of selling into the most prominent demographic since the baby boomers. That’s no small opportunity, and it should be one that insurers are stepping all over themselves to leverage.

One way that the insurance industry might leverage that opportunity is to make investments now to begin to turn themselves into digital businesses. That doesn’t mean that they won’t have buildings or offices, but it does mean that they’ll take a digital/mobile-first approach to their next generations of customers.

For those insurers who are interested in going down this road, here are the basic millennial requirements:

  • Researching and purchasing insurance happens online and can be completed in full by the customer.
  • Any subsequent amendments, alterations or customizations happen online with text chat to answer any questions.
  • Claim reporting happens online in real-time, with AI and robotic technologies to assist.
  • Through the whole process, self-research and text chatting with a live person on the other end are fine, but wasting time on unproductive and inefficient phone calls should never be required.

This, of course, is a major change for the industry. But from a millennial perspective, is this a bigger change than what the retail, music, book, or countless other industries have gone through? Or should millennials infer that the insurance industry is just less interested in having them as customers than other industries are? Yes, it is all a matter perspective. For the millennial generation, technology exists to make life – and everything that’s part of it – easier and more manageable. If a given technology, or industry, doesn’t achieve that then millennials are loath to have anything to do with it unless absolutely necessary, and even then grudgingly.

And for the millennial generation—and this is important to the insurance industry—technology is directly related to time. What does that mean? That means that the millennial generation has a relationship with time—managing it, wasting it, accumulating it—that is quite different from prior generations. The millennial generation has grown up in an era of high-speed networking, social technologies, and for better or worse, near instant gratification. This means that any technology or service that can save us time is a technology or service that we want in our lives. Yes, this is part of the clichéd list of complaints that our parents and grandparents have of this generation, along with every kid gets a trophy, etc. However, that’s how we were wired, and that’s no different in the abstract than our parent’s generation being wired for rock and roll and protests, and our grandparent’s generation being wired for the greatest generation and suburban bliss. It’s just part of the millennial experience set, and the insurance industry would be well advised to recognize it and make plans to deal with it sooner rather than later.

So no thank you. The millennial generation is not interested in waiting on hold to report a claim, or waiting for days for an insurance policy or product to be completed, or filling out seemingly endless and redundant forms only to be told that our information can’t be located by the branch office, or to have a nurse come into our home for an intrusive exam for a life insurance application. Like electricity, this generation will flow to the paths of least resistance and will look for other ways to get the insurance type products needed – hello Insurtech startups – rather than dealing with an industry that doesn’t care to understand our needs. The demographic reality is that the millennial generation will need insurance products as it starts businesses and families, and purchases homes and cars. The demand will be there, so the supply just needs to get aligned in a way that is more palatable and consumable for the millennial generation.

So drop us a text insurance industry, and let us know how you’re doing. Oh wait, your old system can’t text—we have a problem.

About the Author

Tyler Sullivan is a Sales Consultant at X by 2, LLC.

About X by 2

Founded in 1998 and with offices in the US and Canada, X by 2 is a technology consultancy focused on the practice of application and data architecture in the insurance industry. Whether Property and Casualty, Life, or Health, X by 2’s Architects and Program Leaders understand the insurance business and have proven experience planning and delivering core insurance systems, strategic business applications, and enterprise integrations. For more info, please visit xby2.com and follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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