People hate insurance. They find it confusing, don’t see the value, are skeptical of carriers, and are generally subject to poor customer experiences. When someone buys a policy, they are shelling out money for something they hope they never have to use. The next time they have a meaningful interaction with their carrier, it’s typically because they have suffered a loss. And even then, they are often left fighting their insurance company to get their losses covered.
CX innovation in insurance has historically favored speed and ease of quoting, taking existing processes and digitizing what used to be paper-based or in-person interactions, making them faster, more intuitive, and more convenient. While undeniably important and worthwhile, UI optimizations and CX transformation are often expensive and require prolonged efforts. Moreover, when it comes to transforming the customer relationship, these efforts are only part of the equation. They don’t deal at all with the fundamental issue at hand: that people don’t just hate the technology, they actually hate insurance. Outside of the traditional quote, claim, and servicing touchpoints, carriers are leaving opportunities to proactively create value for their customers on the table in favor of technology advancements. By refocusing resources and energy on creating positive interactions with customers, thus shifting the conversation away from loss toward what customers have to gain through their relationship with an insurer, carriers can accelerate their transformation roadmaps by first establishing trust with customers, and then backing it up with technology. Here are some of the simple ways we think that carriers can introduce positive interactions to develop a deeper, more trusted relationship with their customers that will outlast any technological advancement they can make in the short term.
Reward people for never having to file a claim.
The best customer pays their premiums on time, without fail, and rarely, if ever, has to utilize their insurance to cover a loss. We like these customers and want to avoid churn. To keep them happy and ensure they looking around every year for a lower price, carriers should be proactive about finding opportunities to reward them for being the best, especially in instances where carriers are able to pinpoint what behavior led to their customer not filing a claim.
Many P&C carriers (Statefarm, AllState, Nationwide, to name a few) offer safe driver discounts for their auto policyholders–reducing premiums as they avoid at-fault accidents and maintain clean driving records, free of moving violations like speeding, reckless driving, and DUI/DWIs. Root insurance has this as their core model, with the promise that they’ll gather and analyze data from a customer’s smartphone sensors, resulting in a car insurance quote based primarily on how a customer drives. While auto has long been ahead of the curve in terms of these kinds of innovations, there are ample opportunities to explore similar models for other P&C insurers, particularly when it comes to home and renters insurance. For example, when customers take specific actions to protect their property from a disaster ((ie. installing foundation vents or a sump pump to prevent flooding) and in doing so avoid a loss entirely, carriers should consider refunding any expenditure and helping them further protect their property for the next time, either through money, access to materials or services, or education.
Use data to help customers learn more about themselves and take ownership over their behavior.
Apple’s health-kit and the wide world of wearables point us to a new customer experience truth–people love to see useful data about themselves. Within insurance, there is more opportunity than ever to collect data from customers and present them with meaningful conclusions about their behavior, and ultimately, using this data, give them more control over their premiums.
Telematics companies have made huge strides in being able to provide extremely valuable and accurate behavioral data on policyholders. TrueMotion is providing telematics that shares data on distracted driving, crash detection and analysis, and scoring for a drivers overall risk profile. If a carrier is not doing this now, they need to start, as the industry is fast adopting telematics to leverage behavioral data from their policyholders. Leveraging this data, carriers are able to alert customers to behaviors that are changing their risk, ie. if they are driving erratically, or are distracted drivers, carriers can share this information with their customers and curate recommendations like safety courses or educational content to get them back on track.
Similar innovations are also happening in the home, with many insurers partnering with companies like Nest, a manufacturer of smart home products that provide customers information about their home via their smart home thermostats, smoke detectors, security systems, and doorbells, which help customers make their homes safer. Through their safety rewards program, Nest will share information about your home with your insurance provider, who will then discount your premium based on this data. State Farm has a similar partnership with Canary, another smart home security system, while American Family has formed a partnership with Ring, offering both a discount on premiums and a $30 discount on the purchase of a Ring doorbell.
Create community for business owners and policy holders.
The business owner’s relationship with insurance is often characterized by necessity. Rather than investing time and research to ensure they are making the best decision for their business, buying insurance is simply another box that needs to be checked off. Innovation in the small commercial space generally targets acquisition and onboarding. Small business owners have to wear many hats and are constantly making decisions that will impact their businesses with little-to-no expertise on the subject matter. In this sense, one of the most valuable tools carriers can offer small business owners is a community of like-minded entrepreneurs where they can share their perspectives and experience, providing one another with crucial real-world advice that help their businesses succeed. In addition to advice around insurance, communities can provide businesses owners with access to information on marketing, hiring, and business planning to find best practices for growing their businesses. Forums allow for specific questions and advice from those who have been there and dealt with a business owner’s specific challenges. Lastly, communities are a great place for businesses to market themselves (in an honest, non-salesy way) to community members who may need their services. Beyond providing value to customers, by facilitating this kind of community building amongst business owners, carriers can learn more about their customers’ behaviors, challenges, interests and needs so they can innovate and fine tune products that will resonate with them.
If the thought of developing a community program for small business customers is daunting, carriers can also consider exploring an ecosystem play with online small business community platforms like startup nation, the small business hub, or the small business bonfire.
Provide customers with proactive cash in times of need.
When it finally comes time to use their insurance policy, it means a customer has suffered a loss. Ranging from the damage of property to the loss of a loved one, the events that precede a claim often create emotionally stressful circumstances for customers. On top of dealing with their loss, a large number of Americans are unprepared to deal with an emergency with cash on hand. Only four in 10 adults have enough money in the bank to to cover a $400 emergency. The rest resort to credit cards, personal loans from friends and family, 401k loans, and payday loans and other unpleasant options
With most of these options, not only is there no immediacy in payment, it also involves jumping through hoops, many of which have high fees and penalties and can be dangerous financially. How does this help you when your house burned down?
If a customer has just suffered a loss, carriers should consider putting some cash in their pocket to help them before they even ask. Data feeds can provide information on policyholders that are within the areas of a natural disaster, telematics data can indicate if an accident has occurred, and following these types of losses, carriers have an opportunity to live up to their promise that they will be there in a time of need. One of the more exciting applications of blockchain for insurance is automatic payment resolutions via smart contracts. Building a blockchain based payment application using smart contracts allows for an immediate dispersal of funds with no intermediaries required. Simply put, carriers can instantly put cash in your policyholder’s pocket in the moment they need it most.
To remain competitive, insurers must find creative ways to provide additional, demonstrable value for their customers. The examples above are just a starting point. Every carrier has different strengths, different limitations, and most importantly, different customers. We know providing added value can be a tall order, and it’s easy to fear ballooning headcounts and sky-high servicing costs. But remember, carriers don’t have to go it alone! Partnerships and ecosystems are our friends, as are customer experience partners and innovation groups. Carriers should on them to extend their offering and connect customers with a network of services that improve their lives and their perception of their insurers.