Tag Archives: Chesky

What GoogleCompare Shows on LeadGen

Steve Jobs was famous for saying; “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” He was most often referring to focus groups and “industry experts” as the last places he’d look for ideas on innovation and disruption.

I’ve often wondered what Jobs would have said if asked to reimagine insurance distribution in America. I think he might have obsessed about a customer-centric mindset, a fierce focus on trust and a single place for managing risk. Not what you typically see from those trying to disrupt LeadGen in insurance today.

Others Will Follow GoogleCompare Out

TheZebra.com, Insurify.com, QuoteWizard.com, GoogleCompare … the list appears to be endless these days – represent a group of “innovators” who didn’t think what the consumer might want from an insurance experience, and in turn are delivering a toxic insurance shopping experience clouded by opaque offers like providing an Expert Virtual Insurance Agent. What’s worse, many in the FinTech vertical – investors and media alike — are talking about these “innovations” without ever taking them for a test drive. Imagine the editor of Car & Driver simply publishing the latest hype for a new Ford Truck model as gospel without taking the vehicle for a spin.

So, why not take a spin. Ask for a quote from theZebra.com or QuoteWizard.com, AND give the company your actual email address and cell phone number. Then buckle up. Calls… emails… ad nauseam. And most of the outreach is not even from the LeadGen company you connected to. In fact, most of these LeadGen companies don’t actually sell insurance. They simply sell the customer and everything the customer has shared about themselves to others. How can that be?

Their Words – Not Ours

TheZebra.com home page promises the consumer “insurance in black and white.” Reminds me of Apple when it launched its iconic iPod with the simple phrase: “1,000 songs in your pocket.” Pretty snappy. But unlike Apple, which simply delivered on its promise, here’s what theZebra.com says it will actually do to the consumer and the personal information she provides. (As it happens, the privacy disclosure about buying insurance “in black and white” is in grey on the Zebra.com website. As my Dad would say, there are some things you just can’t make up. These are actual excepts from the company web site. The boldface is ours.

SHARING OF PERSONAL INFORMATION

The Zebra may rent, sell or share Personal Information or Location Based Information it collects about you to or with third parties. Personal Information and Location Based Information collected from you is commonly used to provide you with products and services and to comply with any requirements of law.

By submitting your e-mail address and/or phone number (as the case may be) via The Zebra or our properties, you authorize us to use that e-mail address and phone number to contact you periodically, via e-mail, SMS text message, and manually-dialed and/or auto-dialed telephone calls, concerning (i) your insurance-related or quote requests, (ii) any administrative issue regarding our services and/or (iii) information or offers that we feel may be of interest to you. We may also send e-mails to you periodically regarding updated quotes or offerings. You may opt out of receiving e-mails from us at any time by unsubscribing as set forth in the applicable e-mail. Additionally, by filling out information on The Zebra as part of your request for information about insurance policies and quotations, you authorize us to provide that information to various insurance companies, insurance agents and other related third parties that participate in our network. Some insurance companies or third parties may then provide your personal information to their insurance carriers, suppliers and other related vendors in order to generate price quotations and information relevant to insurance policies that you have requested. These third parties may use the contact information (including telephone number(s)) you have provided to contact you directly with quotations by means of telephone (manually or auto-dialed), fax, email and postal mail, even if you have registered your phone number(s) on local and/or national no-call lists. You further acknowledge and agree that each third-party that receives your quote request from this website or from our affiliates may confirm your information through the use of a consumer report, which may include among other things, your driving record and/or credit score. For purposes of faxing, it is understood that insurance companies or third parties have an established business relationship with each user of this website, if required to comply with the then current law.

We may also share certain personal information or location-based information with institutions providing possible product offerings to you based on the information you submit through the Website (e.g. financial institutions and/or insurance companies), and/or certain The Zebra vendors in order to allow them to use that information to obtain and provide us with additional information about you, and/or product offerings that might be of interest to you.

Decades of Trust Put at Risk in a Digital Instant

Iconic insurance brands, like AllState, Amica, Esurance and MetLife – are just a few of the insurance carriers featured inside these LeadGen sites. This isn’t complicated. As consumers, all of us are very wary of providing our personal information to anyone – always looking for assurances that the receiver of our personal information is someone we can trust. As insurance professionals, we will always require personal, non-public information to underwrite risk. It is critical as an industry that we preserve the public’s trust that we will respect their confidence and protect their data.

In my company, we do a lot of work with financial institutions, and even though they might complain about regulatory overreach, most bank CEOs are proud to state in BLACK AND WHITE: We will not share/sell your personal information with third parties. Look at the fight Apple and Google are prepared to wage to protect the personal data on someone’s cell phone – so focused about protecting the assumption of trusted privacy implicit in their brands.

When insurance carriers specifically, and our industry in general, support or, worse, encourage these LeadGen models, they put our brands, our hard-fought reputation of trust, and an emerging generation of customer-centric, omni-channel-licensed insurance advisers at risk. Insurance isn’t a commodity as long as underwriting is required, and regulators require massive balance sheets to stand at the ready to settle claims. Personal information, whether provided person to person or online, or via virtual driving analytics aggregation tools – it’s the customers’ data. And we as customers want to know who they are giving it to and how it’s being used.

If carriers don’t question this toxic experience called LeadGen, you can bet consumers and their advocacy groups will shortly assemble a collective voice to express their dissatisfaction to regulators – and the regulators will be quick to respond. I can hear Sen. Elizabeth Warren and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) decrying the misrepresentations and mistreatment suffered by the consumer when they provide their personal information under the guise of a black-and-white shopping experience — only to learn their information has in fact been down-streamed to others again and again. Our entire industry will be painted with a very unflattering brush. Just as the outlandish behavior of certain mortgage origination companies drew harsh scrutiny for all lenders in the last decade, think of insurance commissioners and Congress taking aim at the “grey print” of these LeadGen models: the CFPB alleging potential unfair, deceptive or abusive acts and practices (UDAP) violations because of the problematic impact on the consumer.

Going Forward

For the carriers, the dilemma is real. Traditional brick and mortar local agencies as distribution platforms are going away. They have no large, scalable, addressable markets that can be engaged digitally. GEICO is relentlessly accumulating market share by going direct to consumers. It’s almost understandable that, given those constraints, some of America’s most powerful insurance brands are putting their brand equity at risk on these LeadGen platforms in an effort to remain visible, reaching for any option to remain viable.

An alternative solution is emerging. Insurance cCarriers and our industry must focus on imagining a new type of licensed agent with the tools that will let them provide a transformative insurance shopping experience for insureds – a lifetime of simple, comfortable, obsessively trustworthy insurance purchases and service. And we, as agents, from the Big I on down, have to imagine a new generation of insurance advisers and insurance agencies. Think of them as meta agents operating in meta agencies.

Can we imagine a new generation of agent that can instantly access all of the public and non-public information about a customer’s character and collateral, deliver it to a stable of insurance carriers that are prepared to underwrite that risk, in exactly the format they need it in, get instant quotes from the carriers that reflect the customer’s risk tolerance and assets to be insured, be available to provide any of the advisory insights the customer might want – all exactly at the moment the customer has an insurance need? A new generation of agents, operating in a new generation meta-agency — fulfilled in their work as risk managers and customer advocates, operating in a seamless, frictionless ecosystem in lifelong service to the customer. And all with an obsessive commitment to trust.

Can you hear Steve Jobs in his iconic black turtleneck on stage wondering the same out loud?

A New-Generation Agent and Agency

A new generation of agent and agency is emerging – empowered and excited to deliver insurance solutions to consumers, operating inside companies that have long and deep trusted brand equity with the consumer, an obsessive commitment to trust. And, having earned that trust, these agents have access to everything a carrier needs to know about the consumer’s character and collateral, eliminating the dreaded “insurance interview and application” or, worse, “the LeadGen hustle.”

This new agent never prospects, sells or steers a customer – the agent simply focuses on delivering a frictionless shopping, comparing, buying and post-purchase service experience tailored to each unique customer exactly at the instant the customer needs it — again, with an obsession for trust. We believe the role of an agent, with a completely reimagined operating environment, is more important and more valuable than ever before.

A new generation of agents and agency is emerging – reimagined to reflect what the customer actually wants, even though, in the iconic words of Steve Jobs, “They didn’t know it.”

Uber’s Thinking Can Reinvent the Agent

I read the article Nick Lamperelli wrote after attending the Insurance Disrupted conference titled “No, Insurance Will Not Be Disrupted,” with his conclusion that there are insurmountable barriers to the “Uberization” of insurance. I’ve developed great respect for Nick’s perspectives. But our team at Insuritas disagrees.

We think disruption within insurance (at the Uber level) is emerging. We just need to think about insurance in a very different way, much like how Uber thought about the ubiquitous taxi cab and getting a customer from point A to point B while making sure the customer actually enjoyed the ride. Uber knew a vehicle was a requirement to provide the ride, so they focused on reimagining the role of the driver to deliver a new, and enjoyable, customer experience. There are approximately 234,000 licensed taxi drivers in America – and there are approximately 466,000 licensed insurance agents.

Our Perspective

When our team thinks about the three primary actors in insurance – the insured, the agent and the carrier – we’ve drawn a couple of conclusions. First, we’ve concluded that the insurance carrier will not be replaced. The scale and immense capital required to insure the unknown is substantial. We believe carriers will continue to transform their businesses. Automated pricing algorithms and streamlined delivery systems will continue to emerge, particularly as the actuarial science and actual claims history affirms that the new algorithms and modified delivery systems work. There will just be winners and losers among the current providers.

Some thought leaders have been looking at the disruption in banking, particularly in lending, and suggesting insurance disruptors will try to mimic OnDeck, Kabbage, SOFI and Lending Club. These banking disruptors are making loans by underwriting repayment risk using nontraditional and publicly available data points and algorithms (e.g. “likes” on Facebook, Glassdoor ratings, LinkedIn contacts, etc.) to determine if a borrower is likely to meet her repayment obligation. Until there is a market cycle downturn, no one will know if these new underwriting algorithms using publicly available data will prove to be prescient or a disaster.

Some folks are thinking this same type of “disruption” is available for a new generation of insurance carriers. We think it’s important to remember that these new online lenders do risk losing the $100,000 they might lend to a borrower, but they can only lose the $100,000 they lent to a borrower. With insurance, unlike repayment risk, claims risk is open-ended, and the open-endedness of claims loss requires capital levels that make an entirely new model carrier entrant unlikely.

Just as Uber concluded that the role of the car should not be replaced in providing the customer with a satisfactory ride, our team has concluded that the insurance carrier will not be replaced in providing the actual insurance. Insurance customers, like taxi cab customers, aren’t happy with the current experience, so just as Uber decided to look at the licensed taxi driver, we decided to look at the licensed agent.

Uber and Insurance

Uber thought long and hard about the one actor it could reimagine to deliver the customer a simple, comfortable ride: the licensed taxi driver. Uber didn’t disrupt the product – i.e. the car – because it knew people still need a vehicle from point A to point B. Uber simply reimagined the driver experience so the customer got what he wanted. Uber reimagined a new generation of “drivers” operating with elegant new tools to finally deliver a ride the way a customer wanted it, a ride experience the customer would love. That includes: clean and detailed cars because of personal vehicle ownership; technology to better understand each driver’s addressable market; instant guidance on where the customer wanted to go and the most efficient way to get there; ways for the customer to instantly access a picture of the car and driver; the ability to rate, rank and celebrate great service instantly that in turn automatically leveraged more business for the driver; the ability to coordinate multiple riders on a single trip to multiple destinations to save time and money and lower the environmental impact of the ride; and a simple, instant payment method … and that’s just to name just a few.

Uber didn’t eliminate the driver. It couldn’t. Uber simply reimagined a driver who delivered the product a customer wanted – a comfortable ride. Consumers responded, and the rest is history.

Now, think about insurance. The actors are very similar – just think about insurance rather than a taxi ride:

  • the consumer is anxious for a new insurance experience;
  • the insurance carriers are like the ubiquitous taxi cab the taxi driver uses – the carrier may be a bit old and clunky with aging operators and legacy distribution capabilities (not as upgradable as a Toyota Camry), but, as the car is needed to get the customer from point A to point B, the carrier is currently the only source for the risk management products the consumer needs;
  • the licensed agent, who like our licensed taxi driver is the licensed intermediary who delivers the product the consumer wants. And we think it helps to think of the term “agent” globally – agent, broker, MGA, direct writer, core system, raters, IVANS, ACCORD, LeadGen – the collective delivery system of the insurance products to the customer today. Is it possible to reimagine the agent?

We believe the customer is simply looking for a better insurance experience. And, as with Uber, we are focused intensely on the agent. We see the same challenges Uber saw: Traditional agents and all the stakeholders surrounding them are strongly committed to the notion that there is only one way to deliver a customer/insurance experience, and it is through them.The taxi industry stakeholders were (and still are) insisting, “We have the vehicles, the licensed drivers, the medallions, the ride meters, the street maps, the taxi parking spaces, the taxi license, etc. and thus are the only platform able to deliver the ride the customer needs.”

Uber didn’t eliminate the driver; it simply reimagined the work and found a new generation of drivers delighted to deliver a reimagined ride. In that same way, our team is reimagining the licensed insurance agent in America.

A Customer Reimagines an Agent

What do today’s insurance customers want? The ability to shop, compare and buy all of the risk management products they need to protect themselves, their families and their small businesses in a simple, one-stop, omni-channel, comfortable and advisory shopping experience. They want to be able to buy multiple products in a single shopping cart, make a single payment at checkout and have an online insurance account that stores all of their insurance information so they never have to provide the same information twice, never have to keep paper records and buy and cancel all additional products using their online insurance account. The list would be long, all tied to a simple notion: a trusted, comfortable insurance experience.

Now, this is the hard pivot for all of us in insurance. Imagine in 2008 that someone asked you what you wanted from a taxi ride, and you ticked off all of the things the Uber driver actually delivers today, and that list was turned over to the taxi cab industry. Could you ever imagine the taxi industry getting close to delivering what you wanted? Ask that same question of insurance customers, let them tick off everything on their wish list for a great insurance experience, and hand that list over to the insurance industry.

The Reimagined Agent 

For insurance carriers, delivering their product to the customer requires a three-step process:

  • The application – collecting public and nonpublic information (NPI) about the character and collateral of a prospective insured;
  • The quote – once an application is complete, using actuarial science to profitably underwrite and price the claims risk;
  • The sale – once a price is accepted, payment is collected and coverage is bound.

We can leave it to historians to explain how we got here, but there’s a massive infrastructure, including more than 400,000 insurance agents and a multibillion-dollar lead-generation industry in America, designed to sell insurance products to the customer. It is a system almost as old as the taxi system. Go back to your list of things a customer might want for an insurance experience. How about, “I want a trusted adviser who works for me and gets me what I need in a safe and frictionless environment”?

As consumers, we don’t like providing private, nonpublic information to anyone, and we are reluctant to engage with people whose job it is to collect it, period. We never have, whether dealing with insurance agents, mortgage originators, tax preparers, government regulators, auto lenders, nurses, doctors, landlords or attorneys.”

Is it possible to imagine a new type of licensed agent with the tools (just like the ones the Uber driver has) that would let them provide a transformative insurance shopping experience: a simple, comfortable insurance purchase? Can we imagine a new generation of agent that can instantly access all of the public and non-public information about a customer’s character and collateral, deliver it to a wide stable of insurance carriers in exactly the format they need it, get instant quotes from the carriers that reflect the customer’s risk tolerance and assets to be insured, be available to provide any of the advisory insights the customer might want — all at exactly the moment the customer has an insurance need? What about a new generation of agents, fulfilled in their work as risk managers and customer advocates, operating in a seamless, frictionless ecosystem in service to the customer?

Similarly to how Uber has built a new generation of drivers, we are building a new generation of agents, who are empowered and excited to deliver insurance solutions to consumers, who are operating inside companies that have long and deep trusted brand equity with the customer and that have access to everything a carrier needs to know about their character and collateral, eliminating the dreaded insurance interview and application. Our new agent never prospects, sells or steers a customer; she simply focuses on delivering a frictionless shopping, buying and post-purchase service experience tailored to each customer exactly at the instant the customer needs it. We believe the role of an agent, with a completely reimagined operating environment, is more important and more valuable than ever before.

More than 5,000 consumers and small business owners ask our agents for help every month. Our agency owners have addressable markets and underwriting packets on more than five million households and get more than 30 million web visits a month with no cost of customer acquisition and application preparation. Our partners have underwriting packets filled with everything a carrier needs to know about character and collateral, ready to be delivered instantly to the carrier, and our reimagined agent is like the Uber driver who is simply focused on providing a concierge level of service to a consumer who has to buy insurance, making sure price, coverages and support are all frictionless.

In 2009, Uber imagined a new kind of taxi driver. In just six years, 162,037 reimagined Uber drivers are at work, earning $6 per hour more than the legacy taxi driver, while self-employed, controlling their destiny and glad to be providing the customer with a safe and comfortable ride. A new generation of agents is emerging, reimagined to reflect what the customer actually wants. We are very excited, as the customer is starting to respond.