October 27, 2020 by Greg Meckbach
Brokers who are concerned about carriers having “too direct” of a relationship with the broker’s customers should consider what service those customers are expecting, an industry consultant suggests.
“As an industry, we have a number of places where we have inserted extra steps because of people’s sensitivity or mistrust of each other,” said Bryan Falchuk, founder and managing partner of Boston-based Insurance Evolution Partners, in an interview Monday.
Falchuk is author of The Future of Insurance: From Disruption to Evolution, which was published this past May. He is scheduled to introduce and moderate several sessions at Future of Insurance Canada, an online conference scheduled Nov. 3 and 4 by Reuters Events. You can register here for Future of Insurance Canada.
In an interview with Canadian Underwriter, Falchuk noted some examples of areas in which consumers may experience some friction in their dealings with the insurance industry.
Say, for example, a client has to send their notice of loss to the broker rather than directly to the carrier. Falchuk suggested this may make sense on the surface, because it is easy for a customer to send their notice of loss to the broker and then have the broker send it where it needs to go.
“The flip side is, have I just slowed down my claims response?” Falchuk asked rhetorically.
“I am not saying they are wrong in this, but brokers and agents tend to be concerned about the carrier having too direct of a relationship with the insured. ‘That’s my account, that’s not yours. That’s my customer.’ That may be leading to a less-than-optimal customer experience. I think the longer we continue to support decisions [that are] making it worse for the customer – especially with the way that customer expectations have changed and are changing faster and faster – we may be damaging our long-term prospects as an industry.”
Canadian Underwriter asked Falchuk what customers expect from the insurance industry.
There is a “strong push” from consumers for a digital experience because of what they are accustomed to in so many other aspects of their lives, he suggested, and the “old school” ways of doing business are no longer a good option.
Falchuk gave the example of one carrier, which he did not name, that sometimes pays claims by cheque and has the agent hand-deliver it.
“The agent drives out to the insured to deliver it by hand because they want to be a saviour,” he said. “And that’s a really nice story; it looks really good if you are there to see the cheque get received and maybe it makes the newspaper. But think about how much longer that process just took for someone whose business just burned to the ground and they are probably struggling right now. Maybe it has taken them 10 days to get money that could have been electronic and instantaneous. That might be the difference between the business going out of business or that owner’s kid not eating tonight. So I think we just need to step back for a moment and remind ourselves of why we exist.”
In other words, brokers and carriers might be doing things in ways that are not meeting their customer’s needs.
“How can we solve for that, while still creating the same respect and enforcement of trust that we need to be able to move forward as a multi-faceted ecosystem, where we have agents and brokers and carriers and third-party administrators?” Falchuk asked.
“Everyone needs to be able to co-exist and support each other, but only if it’s in support of what customers actually need from us. I think that’s critical, because our industry exists to put people’s lives back together at the worst times they face, and to take risk out of the equation so they can go about their lives and their business. So we can’t do things that end up slowing either of those things down.”
Feature image via iStock.com/Pheelings Media