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Three Dots for Insurers to Connect

Robert Regis Hyle | March 10, 2014

There’s no doubt insurance is unlike any other business that operates in our universe, but as we’ve learned, that doesn’t mean there aren’t certain aspects of what insurers do—and need to do—that can’t be found in what other industries are doing.

There are at least three areas that other industries do better than insurance—customer service, social media, and data analytics—and each of these, when done correctly, can provide tremendous return for carriers.

All three are connected in some way, which is one way of saying if your company is not connecting the dots you are probably not doing any of them correctly.

Insurance customers no longer wait for a bad claims experience or an increase in premium to go looking elsewhere for coverage. Insurers to realize this, but the answer to retention is not an easy one.

Customers want to do business the way they want to do business, not the way their carrier wants to operate. If carriers are not flexible, particularly in regard to mobile computing, they are not only going to lose customers, they are going to lose young customers who will be paying premiums for decades.

A Pew Research Center report last year showed that smartphone usage had grown by 20 percent in just two years to the point where nearly 60 percent of cellphone users now have smartphones. What is even more intriguing is the demographics of smartphone users are not tied solely to income, education, or geography.

There is continuous debate about which area of social media is more important for businesses and the fact that we are still discussing this points to one conclusion: There is no single tool that fulfills all the needs, so you better be versatile when you decide to post something on Facebook, give a blast on Twitter, communicate via LinkedIn or even email a message.

On the third point, simply take a look around and think about the changing aspect of retail business over the last 25 years. Some of the most successful businesses in this country—at least at a certain point in time—have completely disappeared from the landscape because they failed to recognize and anticipate the changes that were going on around them.

Bookstores and video stores may not have much to do with insurance, but that doesn’t mean the painful lessons they learned too late can’t be used as a cautionary tale for a tradition-minded industry such as insurance. We see what telematics is doing to a staple of the property & casualty world, personal auto.

Is it such a leap to believe that other lines will undergo a revolution in the next five or 10 years through the increased use of knowledge—not just information—we have gained about what consumers want and how they want to buy a product? It may involve a leap of faith right now, but better that than to jump off the ledge of a building while wondering what happened to your business.

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The Email Chat is a regular feature of the ITA Pro magazine and website. We send a series of questions to an insurance IT leader in search of thought-provoking responses on important issues facing the insurance industry.


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