Millennial consumers are about twice as likely to buy insurance online, so the industry needs to make some major tech innovations to keep up with these changing expectations. More than that, communication between brokers and customers need to take a different form, says a young Sudbury, Ont., broker.
“Buying policies or servicing policies online is starting to become the new norm,” Katy Fowler, personal lines hero at Insurance Hero, tells Canadian Underwriter. “The implementation of digitization in the industry has been propelled by the global pandemic; both brokerages and insurance companies alike had to fast-track their advancement into the digital world. Even prior to COVID-19, the world was becoming more and more digital each day.”
Brokerages need to adapt their technology to attract and retain millennial consumers, suggests Fowler.
“I personally see much more interest from our younger clientele when it comes to technology changes, like electronic document delivery or opting for an e-transfer in the claim settlement instead of receiving a cheque 10 days [later] in the mail,” she says.
In contrast, she finds many consumers from earlier generations may prefer paper or phone communication over digital methods.
“Instead of walking into a brick-and-mortar office to purchase a policy, opening up communication with a customer via digital sources [is becoming crucial],” she says. “Emails, chatbots, text messages—this creates options for the insurer to communicate through their preferred method and creates a little bit more flexibility for them.”
Digital communication is a useful tool to serve millennials in a way they prefer, but it also benefits brokers.
“By creating a digital trail of the information exchanged, it’s also really easy to call upon in cases of miscommunication rather than a ‘He said, she said’ conversation that took place in an office behind closed doors,” Fowler says.
Fowler emphasizes the importance of the broker’s role in placing coverage.
“As we progress further into the digital era, more and more insurance companies are releasing their own websites, their mobile apps and utilizing digital communication methods, which is great for customer accessibility,” says Fowler.
“But it’s also really important to keep the brokerages involved in the communications that take place, as coverages may be affected, especially when we’re talking about something like a claim. [For example,] when purchasing a policy online, a customer may lose out on the benefit of having a broker to advise on the coverages that are applicable to them. They may opt for the cheapest option available to them when they actually lack the coverages they require.”
Regardless, the broker-consumer relationship remains critical, Fowler notes. “Understanding the personal choices and lifestyle of your client is really important to the brokers to ensure we are communicating with the insured in their preferred method. And to provide a little bit of flexibility and make it easy to connect with every customer regardless of what generation they come from.”