Tag Archives: email

Distribution Debunked (PART 2)

In a previous article, we discussed how there has been a rapidly accelerated emphasis on insurance technology, data and distribution. But are we as an industry spinning our wheels? The answer is a big “yes.” Why? Because we haven’t asked the right questions and aren’t trying to solve the right problem.

Here’s how distribution breaks down:

A Painful Process

Our customers have many issues around running and growing their businesses. Insurance empowers customer to do just that — hire employees, comply with regulations, etc. — but the way we go about it is asking endless questions (multiple times over). We focus on what we think doesn’t work instead of what DOES work about their businesses. We are the Negative Nellies. We turn little things into big things, over-analyze them and then use them as reasons to charge higher rates. An evolved distribution would:

  • On the back end:
    • Draw on information in data bases and simply ask the customer to validate that nothing has changed.
    • Handle everything electronically ONCE. (And, no, email doesn’t qualify!)
    • Use publicly available information to fill in the blanks.
    • Leverage class and big data to price and only use underwriting to manage exceptions.
  • On the customer-facing side:
    • Stop sending apps we have to print out, fill in and fax back or, even worse, writable PDFs that don’t save (we have to fill it out over and over until we get it completed on one run through) and then come back and tell us we need to fill out yet another app for another market. It’s like Groundhog’s Day, and we don’t have time for it.
    • If we DO have to fill something out, let us know what information we will need ahead of time so we can have it ready. Right now, we have to stop and start as we have to go look for stuff — and, frankly, we just don’t have time for it.
    • Let us know what the cost is ahead of time. We know you don’t want us to shop our policies — we don’t want to either — so do us a favor and don’t make us. We don’t like being painted into a corner, and we’ll continue to look for a partner who respects that.

See also: 3 Skills Needed for Customer Insight

Pain About the Purchase

Have you ever bought a house and thought about the real estate agent collecting a fat check? Have you gotten a knot in your stomach because you know you paid to fund that? What about the finance guy at a car dealership? You sign on the dotted line because you need to, but you know he’s pulling down a check for that signature, and it bothers you.

Insurance buyers feel the same way. Even though we will tell you we are their “trusted advisers,” the reality is that customers more often than not (and no matter how much they like their agent) can’t answer the question, “What do I pay my agent for?” That’s a problem. Distribution should look at ways to be more transparent, to help customers clearly understand what they are paying for and what they can expect to receive and when. More importantly, customers should feel like we appreciate their purchase. Often, they ask us to bind, and the next thing they see is a bill (even before a binder). How about a “Welcome to our company,” “Thank you for your trust” or, even more importantly, “Tell us about your experience.”

Allow customers to benchmark costs and give them a level of comfort that what they are paying is in line with others — and, if not, why. It’s a simple question that deserves a simple answer. For us to have the vast data stores that we have and not be able to answer a simple benchmarking question is nothing short of unforgivable.

Just a Promise to Pay?

Customers want more than just a promise to pay, and distribution could provide meaningful value to the customer beyond the policy placement.

Does the customer have conditions that are raising their price or limiting their ability to get coverage? Educate them, provide tools, help them become a better business and, by extension, a better risk. In that way, we drive value to them instead of wasting valuable time.

Look for ways your products could help them sell more and gain a competitive advantage. Take risk out of growth and provide overall out-of-the-box solutions. Provide them with tangibles, even if it is as simple as a portal where they can manage what they have, manage their exposures and communicate with their account team.

See also: How to Redesign Customer Experience

Conclusion

It’s clear that customer experience is the key to success. By giving your customers some control over the process, you can remove the typical painful buying experience and make your customers feel good about their purchase.

The Mystery of the Millennial Buyer

For several years, I’ve heard clamor from the agency world about how Millennials’ demands are so different from previous insurance buyers. Well, as a Millennial insurance buyer, I’m here to say… we still have some work to do. We still have a lot of work to do.

According to Accenture Outlook: Who are the Millennial shoppers? And what do they really want?, Millennials are exceptionally loyal …if they feel they’ve been treated right. And, we all know it’s cheaper to keep a customer than it is to get a new one.

“Right” is an incredibly subjective term and can certainly get lost in translation in the insurance world. “Right,” in the insurance world, typically means paying exactly what is fair for losses. No more, no less. That’s understandable, and, as someone in the insurance world, I understand the sentiment.

But I’d like to help you to understand how I define “right” as a Millennial insurance buyer.

Educate, don’t sell

The days of the uninformed insurance buyer are long gone. The added value of the agent is around education. Take a step back and help the Millennial customer understand the fundamentals of risk management and see that insurance is one of many tools used to manage risk. Millennials will identify the value that you bring to the purchasing transaction and remain loyal customers rather than commodity-buyers.

Empower them to make good financial choices

You empower Millennials to make smart financial decisions through education. This also means explaining the upsides and downsides of different policy options. For example, explaining how deductibles and premiums correlate, rather than trying to get them to take the lowest deductible. Millennials expect that, when they come to you asking for help in the realm of personal finance, you’ll be looking out for their best financial interests, rather than your commission check. As soon as a Millennial believes you’re NOT looking out for her best interest and are more interested in the sale, you have just made yourself the commodity.

No more fancy terminology

We have an epidemic of insurance buyers who have no clue what they’re buying. “Limit,” “peril,” “liability,” “occurrence” – these are not words the Average Joe and Average Jane have any practical reason to know, outside of purchasing insurance. Millennials won’t settle for someone who isn’t able (or willing) to give the layman’s definition of these terms. This requires you to have a real command of the fundamentals of risk and insurance, rather than a command of policy forms and exclusions.

Embrace technology to increase service

Sure you have a Facebook and a Twitter, maybe you even post regularly, but that’s not what will retain Millennials. Make yourself and your agency available to them on their terms: phone, email, text or social media. Encourage them to take pictures and videos of all their belongings if they don’t want to make an inventory list. Send periodic, non-marketing text messages to encourage safety. (Example: “With the coming cold weather, be sure you clean off your furnace and think about getting it inspected. Build-up can reduce efficiency, which costs you more money and might even cause a fire.”) These are the types of things that will differentiate you and your team from every other agent out there.

As an aside: If you want to serve Millennials, you must make online payments easy. Most Millennials don’t own stamps and are using the same checkbook they got when they were 16 and opened their first checking account.

Humanize them at claim time

Millennials want to be treated like the humans they are when claims hit, which, in all reality, isn’t asking much. Instead of aiming for that minimum threshold, exceed expectations by doing the following when you are notified of their claim: 1) Make sure they’re okay, 2) Check in and see how they’re doing and if they’re worried about anything (lawsuits, another loss, further injury, claim not getting paid, etc.), 3) Make sure you’re communicating with them, in addition to the adjuster, 4) Explain to them how this might affect future premiums. Claims are your time to shine, and, if treated well, Millennials can be some of the most loyal customers you’ll have.

In closing …

Insurance is a paper and a promise

Without anything more tangible than that, it’s not too much to ask to be treated well, as a smart and autonomous human being. If you can show that to your Millennial customers and follow it up at claims time, you’ll crack the nut that is the Millennial insurance-buyer.

The views expressed by the author are the author’s alone and do not necessarily represent the views of Aon or its affiliates. The standard information provided in this blog is for general purposes only and should not be construed as, or used as a substitute for, financial or other professional advice.

Stunning Patterns Found in the Dark Net

One of the most powerful technologies for spying on cyber criminals lurking in the Dark Net comes from a St. Louis-based startup, Norse Corp.

Founded in 2010 by its chief technology officer, Tommy Stiansen, Norse has assembled a global network, called IPViking, composed of sensors that appear on the Internet as vulnerable computing devices. These “honeypots” appear to be everything from routers and servers, to laptops and mobile devices, to Internet-connected web cams, office equipment and medical devices.

When an intruder tries to take control of a Norse honeypot, Norse grabs the attacker’s IP address and begins an intensive counterintelligence routine. The IP address is fed into web crawlers that scour Dark Net bulletin boards and chat rooms for snippets of discussions tied to that IP address.

Analysts correlate the findings, and then IPViking displays the results on a global map revealing the attacking organization’s name and Internet address, the target’s city and service being attacked and the most popular target countries and origin countries.

Stiansen grew up tinkering with computers on a Norwegian farm, which led him to a career designing air-traffic control and telecom-billing systems. After immigrating to the U.S. in 2004, Stiansen began thinking about a way to gain a real-time, bird’s-eye view of the inner recesses of the Dark Net. The result was IPViking, which now has millions of honeypots dispersed through 167 data centers in 47 countries.

Norse recently completed a major upgrade to IPViking, which has led to some stunning findings. Stiansen explains:

Tommy Stiansen - NorseCorp

3C: Can you tell us about your most recent milestone?

Stiansen: We have managed to do a tenfold (increase) to where we can now apply millions of rules in our appliance.

3C: So more rules allow you to do what?

Stiansen: It allows us to have a lot more threat data and apply a lot more intelligence to a customer’s traffic. We can start applying more dynamic data. Our end goal is to apply full counterintelligence onto traffic. Meaning when we see a traffic flow coming through our appliance we will be able to see the street address, the domain, the email address used to register this domain. We can see who a packet is going to, and the relationship between the sender and receiver, all kinds of counterintelligence behind actual traffic, not just for blocking but for visualization.

3C: That level of detail was not available earlier?

Stiansen: Nope. This is something we’ve pioneered. This is our platform that we built so we can enable this (detailed view) to actually happen.

3C: So what have you discovered?

Stiansen: We’re learning that traffic and attacks coming out of China isn’t really China. It’s actually other nations using China’s infrastructure to do the attacks. It’s not just one country, it’s the top 10 cyber countries out there using other countries’ infrastructure.

3C: So is China getting a bad rap?

Stiansen: Correct.

3C: Who’s responsible? Russia? The U.S.? North Korea?

Stiansen: Everyone.

3C: What else are you seeing?

Stiansen: We’re also seeing how hackers from certain communities are joining together more and more. The hacking world is becoming smaller and smaller. Iranian hackers are working with Turkish hackers. Pakistani and Indian hackers, they’re working together. Indonesia hackers and Iranian hackers are working together.

3C: Odd combinations.

Stiansen: It’s weird to see these mixes because there’s no affiliation, there’s no friendship between the countries on a state level. But the hacker groups are combining together. The borders between hackers have been lifted.

3C: What’s driving them to partner, is it money or ideology?

Stiansen: All of the above. That’s the thing, the people who have similar ideologies find each other on social media and start communicating with each other. And the people with the financial means and shared goals meet each other, that’s the evolution. And when they do that, they become really powerful.

Preventing Violent Crime on Campuses

Violent crime, a major and growing problem in this country, is exacerbated by the fact that many crimes go unreported. But there’s a simple fix to the lack of reporting: Make it easier for people to tip off authorities anonymously.

Developments in communications technology and in social media can play a decisive role in increasing reporting, especially among young people. Once authorities have more information, they can not only track down more criminals but can develop a fuller picture of where and under what conditions violent crimes occur, and can develop better prevention programs.

In California, the Visalia campus of the College of the Sequoias has a program  allowing individuals to report suspicious behavior on campus to local police anonymously via text, voice mail or email.

“Our best resource, by far, is the students and faculty right here on campus,” Chief of the Police department Bob Masterson told the student newspaper . “Even if you’re not the victim, you could be a great witness.”

Many students said the program, TipNow, keeps them safer; they also consider it a good idea for all campuses.

Such programs are essential because violent crime remains an unfortunate truth in the U.S. According to the FBI’s national crime statistics, 1.2 million violent crimes were committed in the U.S. in 2012, and  even seemingly safe, self-contained campus environments like schools, colleges, hotels, hospitals and corporations are not immune.

At U.S. hospitals, the violent crime rate per 100 hospital beds rose 25%, from 2.0 incidents in 2012 to 2.5 incidents last year, according to research released by the IHSS Foundation at the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS). The rate of disorderly conduct incidents experienced the biggest jump, from 28 per 100 hospital beds in 2012 to 39.2 last year (a rise of 40%). A separate IHSS Foundation study found that 89% of the hospitals surveyed had at least one event of workplace violence in the previous 12 months.

The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey reported the following statistics for workplace violence between 1993 and 1999:

  • While working or on duty, U.S. residents experienced 1.7 million violent victimizations annually, including 1.3 million simple assaults, 325,000 aggravated assaults, 36,500 rapes and sexual assaults, 70,000 robberies and 900 homicides.
  • Workplace violence accounted for 18% of all violent crime.

From  1997 through 2009, 335 murders occurred on college campuses, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education (2010).  Three-fifths of campus attacks in a 108-year span occurred in the past two decades.

Yet many crimes go unreported to campus authorities. A 1997 study about campus violence by Sloan, Fisher and Cullen found that only 35% of violent crimes on college campuses were reported to authorities.

There are various reasons for not reporting crimes. For example, many may regard a crime as too minor a matter to report or may consider it a private matter. Many studies have shown a reluctance to report crimes or other suspicious activities out of fear of the authorities or of criminal retribution.

For instance, in February 2009 in San Gabriel, Calif., two gunmen opened fire inside a coffee shop, killing one and wounding six others, but police had trouble finding witnesses to what appeared to be a gang-related attack even though the shop was crowded with at least 40 people. Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore was quoted as saying,  “We know people saw something, and we need them to come forward and help us solve this crime.”

Too many Americans are inculcated with the belief that “the authorities will attend to it” – without considering that, in many cases, the appropriate law enforcement agency is unaware of a danger. Although many domestic terrorist events and campus shootings are committed by those whose previous actions were seen by those around them as odd, or even threatening, too often these observations go unreported.

This is why the concept of anonymous reporting is important: to get more information from the campus community. This anonymity is now possible.

TipNow receives tips via SMS/text, email, voice and mobile-app. When the tips hit the TipNow server, the sender’s information is encrypted. The tip is then disseminated to a pre-defined set of administrators on the system via email and SMS/text. The administrators can ask for more information from the tipster, still anonymously. For extra security, the server will delete all identifying information in 24 to 72 hours.

The system looks like this:

TipNow

In a recent interview, an anti-terrorism official (name withheld at his request) expressed his view on prevention: “The ability to gather information, sift through it to find what is useful intelligence – and then rapidly get that information to the right people – can and has made the difference between tragedy and that tragedy being averted.”