April 27, 2021 by Adam Malik
Human interaction is still as important as ever despite a global pandemic but the method of having those interactions has changed. Enhancing digital capabilities by getting splintered groups to come together has allowed the insurance industry to maintain those relationships, said an insurer executive during a recent webinar.
Many interactions between insurance professionals have historically been face-to-face, and the industry became dependent on that, said Peter Thompson, senior vice president of insurance and president at National Bank Insurance.
In fact, he noted, it became apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic just how dependent the industry was on meeting in person to fill out forms and communicate in general.
“All our brokers have always historically gone to meet with the clients physically and really help them understand some of the risks they can face and the importance of protection and so on,” Thompson said during the webinar How 2020 Forced Insurers to Put People First, hosted by insurtech BreatheLife.
The insurance industry has a general reputation of being a paper-based industry and much of that is likely earned because the industry never bothered to move away, or at least do so in a quick enough manner.
“And that really came to light in a pretty significant way over this past year,” Thompson said. “I think it really put the emphasis on something needs to change, and we can’t take 20 years to change the way we do business. We need to find a way to do this more rapidly.”
One of those rapid changes came in meeting clients. Having those meetings is still a crucial part of the business, but doing so virtually did an adequate job of filling the void during times when concerns around COVID-19 only grew.
“So the human interaction was probably just as, if not more, important. It’s just the means by which we did it,” Thompson said. “Having video conferences and being online like this to discover that — because I don’t think any of us had spent the number of hours that we currently do interacting with other people in this way — this tightness and importance of collaborating together…was critical.”
Necessity is the mother of invention, as the saying goes. In a sense, the pandemic forced everyone to work together to find solutions. Pre-pandemic, you may not have found the same amount of buy-in.
“And that objective was very focused on technology in terms of enabling [new] solutions so that [technological change] could be done much more rapidly so that we could get verbal consent and electronic way of getting what used to be done by paper to be done electronically,” Thompson observed. “And then filling out those gaps in terms of, ‘How do we ensure that we’re connected with clients and potential clients?’ That too became very critical.”
It’s important to develop partnerships with experts to make the transition, he pointed out. Insurance professionals as experts in insurance, not technology. “When it comes to the tech side, that’s when we really see the value of having somebody who’s an expert in that side and partnering up with them,” Thompson said.
Feature image by iStock.com/Ada daSilva
People don’t want to interact with a bot, they want to interact with a human