Canadian Underwriter

Why brokers need to take ownership of data

April 11, 2019   by Jason Contant

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Brokers need to take ownership of the data they collect to personalize and improve the customer experience, a speaker suggested Tuesday at the CIP Symposium in downtown Toronto.

“For the brokers in the room, how does your client feel if they are a client of your office for 10 years and you send them an application each and every year that asks them for their name, address, what do you do, etc.?” asked Michael Loeters, senior vice president of commercial insurance & risk management with PROLINK Insurance. “And we treat them like a brand new customer every single year.

“We drive our customers crazy,” he said. “It’s a horrible customer experience.”

Loeters was speaking at the symposium alongside Marc Lipman, chief operating officer of AIG Insurance Company of Canada, at the session How data can navigate the unknown.

Loeters said a broker may gather the data an insurer needs for an application, for example, but generally won’t put that information in a system. “It sits with us, but it sits with us in a Word document or a PDF document or maybe a spreadsheet,” he said. “So, we have it, but it’s not easily organized in a way we can access it or make value or use out of it.”

Contrast that with the customer experience in other areas of a person’s life, such as shopping or browsing social media. For example, when a person goes to the grocery store, the store knows that person’s past purchases; on social media, it may recommend other musicians based on that person’s preferences.

“Yet we haven’t figured out in our industry how to take that exact same experience that we love and translate it into how we are going to deliver that kind of customer experience,” Loeters said. But he added brokers are starting to think more critically about what experience they want to deliver to their customer, and a lot of that experience has to do with data.

“This data that I have with my customers is actually powerful because I can do things with it and service my customer better, because if I specialize in a particular industry or if I have a lot of homeowners policies in a lot of areas, I can use this data to deliver that proactive value to those customers,” Loeters said. “My opinion is we are at the very, very early stages of that.”

Brokers have to take responsibility for data, and “cannot operate in the marketplace blindly,” Loeters said. “If we don’t take proactive measures and start thinking about our strategies, that’s what’s going to happen and we’re going to be caught behind the 8-ball and there are going to be other brokers that are going to surpass you and are going to have a stronger, much better value proposition.”

From an insurer perspective, insurers are “saddled and burdened every day by desperate legacy systems and inaccurate, incomplete and incompatible data,” Lipman said. However, sometimes analytics and insights can be the “new glue that holds customers to carriers and perhaps to brokers as well.”

Lipman used the example of a major hotel company client that was looking at their claims experience data from a workers’ compensation perspective. They found that people who were getting injured most were chambermaids due to “too many sharp, pointy things in rooms,” such as corners of desks and beds.

“What they’ve done is actually re-engineered their hotel rooms,” Lipman reported. “Their architects make hotel rooms differently now and the furniture they buy is different now. The claims experience has gone down in a matter of a couple of years on the new properties that have the different design.”