Tag Archives: insurance distribution

Taking the ‘I’ Out of Insurance Distribution

New entrants—more customer-centric and digitally sophisticated than most established carriers—are transforming the way insurance is bought and sold. Their scalable, digital platforms, augmented by analytics, threaten the traditional distribution model. And at the core of the new operating models, powerful multi-industry partnerships are redefining the insurance distribution ecosystem.

In short, they are taking the “I” out of distribution, and replacing it with the “we” of effective, broad-based partnerships.

Established carriers urgently need to form such partnerships— and Accenture research shows that 72 percent have already done so, or plan to. But attractive alliances are, by definition, limited in number. Leading players are already inking the best deals, leaving the laggards with fewer options.

In short, it’s essential to move quickly—and gaining a first-mover advantage starts by understanding the new entrants’ true intentions.

They don’t want it all—but they are taking more and more.

Approximately US$4.9 billion has been invested in 196 insurance tech companies since the second quarter of 2011, with no less than $2.6 billion coming in 2015. Targeting the lucrative distribution portion of the insurance value chain is a no-brainer for the new entrants. According to CB Insights & Accenture Analytics, 56 percent of the recipients of these investments are focused on the distribution part of the value chain (see Fig. 1).

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For the most part, these players aren’t interested in underwriting and taking on risk—it’s just too commoditized, requires too much capital, and is too heavily regulated. But they do want to own the customer experience. In fact, they promise to deliver a much better one—more attuned to the personalized service and tailored product offerings that 76 percent of consumers say they would switch providers for and 38 percent would even pay more to receive.

Delivered at low cost via digital channels and convenient, point-of-purchase touch points, the new entrants’ value propositions not only appeal to insurance consumers hungry for a simplified, transparent and personalized buying experience. They also provide an opportunity to gather a wealth of customer data, build customer loyalty, and establish robust residual revenue streams. Consider, for example, how many auto dealers and manufacturers now offer insurance as part of a car-buying or car-sharing package, or the number of retailers that link insurance purchases to reward programs.

As customers’ shopping habits shift from a linear to a non-stop path, the savviest new entrants are steadily raising their game (see Fig. 2).

Some are leveraging their superior understanding of the customer base to influence product design to align with their overall Brand. Case in point: the UK retailer, John Lewis— whose insurance products are underwritten by a panel of leading British carriers—now incorporates the famous John Lewis brand promise: “never knowingly undersold.”

Others are using their platform models to disrupt existing markets. The online US broker insureon, which serves more than 800 industries, can give customers a personalized quote in 15 minutes —a fraction of the time it takes traditional commercial brokers.

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Still others are forming powerful, cross-industry partnerships. BMW, for instance, has worked with Allianz to form a truly integrated partnership in which Allianz-designed products are tailored to fit BMW’s brand promise. BMW advertises the high-end performance of their vehicles. Driver behaviorbased telematics are not consistent with BMW’s core message. Instead, BMW and Allianz partnered to create a usage-based insurance product true to BMW’s brand promise. BMW Aftersales is also part of the agreement, which aims to generate global synergies by distributing some 50 joint products across 27 markets.

You won’t win tomorrow by continuing to do what you do today.

The industry is starting to rise to the new entrants’ challenge. Accenture research shows that 59 percent of carriers are prioritizing a more customer-centric distribution model, and 48 percent have already built a customer-centric hub that leverages data and analytics for an improved service experience (or plan to do so in the near future).

But the established carriers still hesitate to take bolder steps. Fewer than half (43 percent) are planning or have completed the acquisition of startups or innovative competitors, for example.

Carriers that have partnered with new entrants are already reaping the rewards, leveraging their natural advantage as underwriters to strengthen their own customer relationships.

Since the start of their global partnership in 2009, Allianz and BMW, for example, have tripled their customer insurance business. Furthermore, the recent inclusion of a telematics tracking package for BMW’s electric cars—the hardware is pre-installed but only becomes operative if the driver also takes out Allianz insurance—puts the big German carrier at the forefront of digital innovation in the auto market.

AXA, similarly, has significantly boosted its digital capabilities by forming a strategic partnership with Facebook. The deal gives the French multinational insurance firm access to dedicated Facebook resources in innovation, analytics and mobile, thus furthering its ambition to become what AXA Group COO calls “the leading digital and multi-access insurer.” Facebook, for its part, furthers its ambition to build major partnerships with international companies, and expands its footprint in the French market.

Act now, or lose out.

So how can you create customer experiences that are at least as good as those the new entrants are offering—ideally, better?

The experience of the leaders suggests that you need to develop more customer-centric business and operating models, execute multiple models simultaneously for both the core and the digital businesses, and integrate the lessons learned about customer centricity from new partners, broadly, across the enterprise.

The following considerations will help get you started:

      • Pick your spots in alignment with your overall market approach. Determine your strategy and start by defining which customer segments are most attractive to you. Develop tailored value propositions and identify new product or service offerings, and then evaluate which non-traditional partnerships and business models will complement them. If your target customers are high-net-worth individuals, for example, you might seek out a luxury goods retailer.
      • Rethink your product design approach to enable personalization at scale. Develop capabilities that enable faster product deployment, tailoring to specific partner value propositions, and modular product architecture supported by analytics at a granular level.
      • Develop a supporting digital strategy that aligns to customer expectation, business vision and IT platforms to fulfill 4 fundamental objectives of customer experience:
        • Execution of fully-informed and real-time interactions
        • Expansion of awareness and extension of reach
        • Delivery of highly personalized experiences
        • Creation and distribution of rich, interactive content
    • Build cost-effective and flexible back- and middle-office operations. Support them with a flexible technology infrastructure to make the economics work.
    • Define a win-win partnership model. Define the role you want to play in the ecosystem. Align on the key success factors upfront through clearly articulated success metrics, well-defined customer segments, and one brand promise.

This article originally appeared on Accenture.

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Insurance 2.0: How Distribution Evolves

At American Family Ventures, we believe changes to insurance will happen in three ways: incrementally, discontinuously over the near term and discontinuously over the long term. We refer to each of these changes in the context of a “version’ of insurance,” respectively, “Insurance 1.1,” “Insurance 2.0” and “Insurance 3.0.”

The incremental changes of “Insurance 1.1” will improve the effectiveness or efficiency of existing workflows or will create workflows that are substantially similar to existing ones. In contrast, the long-term discontinuous changes of “Insurance 3.0” will happen in response to changes one sees coming when peering far into the future, i.e. risk management in the age of commercial space travel, human genetic modification and general artificial intelligence (AI). Between those two is “Insurance 2.0,” which represents near-term, step-function advances and significant departures from existing insurance processes and workflows. These changes are a re-imagination or reinvention of some aspect of insurance as we know it.

We believe there are three broad categories of innovation driving the movement toward “Insurance 2.0”: distribution, structure and product. While each category leverages unique tactics to deliver value to the insurance customer, they are best understood in a Venn diagram, because many tactics within the categories overlap or are used in coordination.

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In this post, we’ll look into at the first of these categories—distribution—in more detail.

Distribution

A.M. Best, the insurance rating agency, organizes insurance into two main distribution channels: agency writers and direct writers. Put simply, agency writers distribute products through third parties, and direct writers distribute through their own sales capabilities. For agency writers, these third-party channels include independent agencies/brokerages (terms we will use interchangeably for the purposes of this article) and a variety of hybrid structures. In contrast, direct writer sales capabilities include company websites, in-house sales teams and exclusive agents. This distinction is based on corporate strategy rather than customer preference.

We believe a segment of customers will continue to prefer traditional channels, such as local agents valued for their accessibility, personal attention and expertise. However, we also believe there is an opportunity to redefine distribution strategies to better align with the needs of two developing states of the insurance customer:those who are intent-driven and those who are opportunity-driven. Intent-driven customers seek insurance because they know or have become aware they need it or want it. In contrast, opportunity-driven customers consider purchasing insurance because, in the course of other activities, they have completed some action or provided some information that allows a timely and unique offer of insurance to be presented to them.

There are two specific distribution trends we predict will have a large impact over the coming years, one for each state of the customer described above. These are: 1) the continuing development of online agencies, including “mobile-first” channels and 2) incidental sales platforms.

Online Agencies and Mobile-First Products

Intent-driven customers will continue to be served by a number of response-focused channels, including online/digital agencies. Online insurance agencies operate much like traditional agencies, except they primarily leverage the Internet (instead of brick-and-mortar locations) for operations and customer engagement. Some, like our portfolio company CoverHound, integrate directly with carrier partners to acquire customers and bind policies entirely online.

In addition to moving more of the purchasing process online, we’ve observed a push toward “mobile-first” agencies. By using a mobile device/OS as the primary mode of engagement, the distributor and carrier are able to meet potential customers where they are increasingly likely to be found. Further, mobile-first agencies leverage the smartphone as a platform to enable novel and valuable user experiences. These experiences could be in the application process, notice of loss, servicing of claims, payment and renewal or a variety of other interactions. There are a number of start-up companies, some of which we are partnered with, working on this mobile-first approach to agency.

To illustrate the power of a mobile-first platform, imagine a personal auto insurance mobile app that uses the smartphone camera for policy issuance; authorizes payments via a payment API; processes driving behavior via the phone’s GPS, accelerometer and a connection to the insured vehicle to influence or create an incentive for safe driving behavior; notifies the carrier of a driving signature indicative of an accident; and integrates third-party software into their own app that allows for emergency response and rapid payment of claims.

Incidental Channels

In the latter of the two customer states, we believe “incidental channels” will increasingly serve opportunity-driven customers. In this approach, the customer acquisition engine (often a brokerage or agency) creates a product or service that delivers value independently of insurance/risk management but that uses the resulting relationship with the customer and data about the customer’s needs to make a timely and relevant offer of insurance.

We spend quite a bit of our time thinking about incidental sales channels and find three things about them particularly interesting:

  1. Reduced transactional friction—In many cases, customers using these third-party products/services are providing (or granting API access to) much of the information required to digitally quote or bind insurance. Even if these services were to monetize via lead generation referral fees rather than directly brokering policies, they could still remove purchase friction by plugging directly into other aggregators or online agencies.
  2. Dramatically lower customer acquisition costs—Insurance customers are expensive to acquire. Average per-customer acquisition costs for the industry are estimated to be between $500 and $800, and insurance keywords are among the top keywords by paid search ad spend, often priced between $30 and $50 per click. Customer acquisition costs for carriers or brokers using an incidental model can be much lower, given naturally lower costs to acquire a customer with free/low cost SaaS and consumer apps. Network effects and virality, both difficult to create in the direct insurance business but often present in “consumerized” apps, enhance this delta in acquisition costs. Moreover, a commercial SaaS-focused incidental channel can acquire many insurance customers through one sale to an organization.
  3. Improved customer engagement—Insurance can be a low-touch and poorly rated business. However, because most customers choose to use third-party products and services of their own volition (given the independent value they provide), incidental channels create opportunities to support risk management without making the customer actively think about insurance—for example, an eye care checkup that happens while shopping for a new pair of glasses. In addition, the use of third-party apps creates more frequent opportunities to engage with customers, which improves customer retention.

Additional Considerations and Questions

The digital-customer-acquisition diagram below shows how customers move through intent-driven and opportunity-driven states. Notice that the boundary between customer states is permeable. Opportunity-driven customers often turn into intent-driven customers once they are exposed to an offer to purchase. However, as these channels continue developing, strategists must recognize where the customer begins the purchase process—with intent or opportunistically. Recognizing this starting point creates clarity around the whole product and for the user experience required for success on each path.

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Despite our confidence in the growth of mobile-first and incidental strategies, we are curious to see how numerous uncertainties around these approaches evolve. For example, how does a mobile-first brokerage create defensibility? How will carriers and their systems/APIs need to grow to work with mobile-first customers? With regard to incidental channels, which factors most influence success—the frequency of user engagement with the third-party app, the ability of data collected through the service to influence pricing, the extensibility of the incidental platform/service to multiple insurance products, some combination of these or something else entirely?

Innovation in how insurance is distributed is an area of significant opportunity. We’re optimistic that both insurers and start-ups will employ the strategies above with great success and will also find other, equally interesting, approaches to deliver insurance products to customers.

Insurers Must Finalize Digital Strategies

I’m a big believer in the power of good, evidence-based research; I’ve mentioned this often in my blog posts. So, I am pleased to start this new series discussing our recent Distribution and Agency Management Survey.

It’s the most extensive distribution survey in the insurance industry ever conducted by Accenture Research.  We canvassed top executives at 414 carriers in 20 countries in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific and Latin America. They ranged from marketing chiefs to CIOs, heads of distribution and sales, brokerage executives and chief digital officers—they were all involved in insurance distribution. Many of them, 44%, work in Europe. Nearly all the carriers we surveyed generate premium income of more than $1 billion a year. Forty-five percent were multiline insurers, 28% were property and casualty insurers, and 27% were life insurers.

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This is, indeed, a very powerful survey.

It gives a clear picture of how quickly insurers are deploying digital strategies in the sale and distribution of their products and services. Moreover, it highlights the actions carriers need to take to harness the full potential of digital technologies to transform their distribution model and avoid being left behind by competitors.

Digital technology is no longer an adjunct to the businesses of the world’s major insurers. It now dominates the agendas of most of the biggest carriers around the globe. And its influence is fast getting stronger.

We’ve entered an era of huge digital disruption. Carriers must move quickly to formalize their digital strategies and shape their future distribution models—one of the main findings of the Distribution and Agency Management Survey.

Reimagining insurance distribution - Distribution and Agent Management Survey Accenture POV

More than 80% of the insurance executives we surveyed intend to fully digitize their sales processes in the next few years. This is a huge shift from just two years ago, when only a minority of carriers had such plans. In Europe, 27% of insurers have already implemented end-to-end digital sales processes, and a further 30% plan to follow suit in the next three years. This is in line with trends from the rest of the world.

New highly personalized digital channels will enable insurers to build intimate customer relationships that can be leveraged by physical channels to sell further products and services. They’ll also offer new business opportunities. Nearly 60% of all the insurers we surveyed are prioritizing a shift to more customer-centric distribution models, while 48% have, or plan to have, a customer-centric hub that allows them to use customer data to improve the service experience. Raising the quality of the customer’s digital experience is a major priority among insurers in Europe and the rest of the world.

Carriers across the globe are preparing a host of new digital services and products. Competition will be fierce. In the midst of growing change and uncertainty, it’s vital insurers cultivate business agility and act decisively in selecting and implementing their digital strategies.

In my next blog post, I’ll examine, in more detail, the digital disruption that’s taking place in the distribution channels of major insurers around the world.

For more information about Accenture’s Distribution and Agency Management Survey, click here.

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.”

New Channels, New Data for Innovation

Distribution channels may be the most tangible part of most consumers’ experiences with insurance. While the details of the product are obviously important, once the policy is purchased, most people file it away and forget about it. Many consumers couldn’t find their policies if you asked them. And how many consumers do you think have actually read their policy?

In today’s digital world, an insurer’s success depends more on how customers interact with insurance than on the product itself. Increasingly, consumers’ expectations are being set by the Amazons, Apples and Googles of the world than by similar insurers. Insurance has the unfortunate distinction of dealing in a product that most consumers only own because they have to, not because they want to. So, insurers start perceptively behind on the product side compared with Apple, Google and Amazon. People use/shop/buy from these places because they LOVE to, not because they must. The experiences that insurers deliver through their channels are no match for digital retail giants. At least, not yet.

What can insurers do?

As insurers, we can copy pages from the Google playbook and get better at using data and analytics to improve our distribution channels – the experiences we deliver and their effectiveness. Majesco’s recent research report, A Path to Insurance Distribution Leadership: New Channels and New Data for Innovative Outcomes, provides some insights, drawing on the first-hand experiences of CIOs who shared their thoughts at a roundtable discussion this past June.

On the consumer side…

Insurers can use data and analytics to segment customers and develop the right products for their needs and, crucially, offer these products through the channels that best meet the preferences and needs of each segment. Predictive models can be used to further the precision with which to target prospects and customers for new purchases, cross-selling or increasing the stickiness of relationships. By tracking customers’ paths across channels and collecting the data they’ve provided and consumed, insurers can ensure that consumers have a seamless, connected experience, no matter what path they take.

On the insurer side…

Insurers have a wealth of data! They just need to use it like Google! Insurers have details on sales, retention, costs and profitability that they can track down to the channel and individual producer level. While most companies have always used this data to track performance, they can go even further and get additional insights on their producers by applying the same techniques we just discussed for customer data – namely segmentation and predictive modeling. Segmentation allows insurers to more efficiently apply training/development resources and match producers to markets/customer segments that best fit their potential. Predictive models can be used throughout the producer lifecycle to forecast performance and future success of individual producers as well as to anticipate future commission and incentive costs. Analytics can also be used to steer prospects and customers to the sales and service channels that optimize business outcomes like new business, retention or lifetime value.

While the benefits of using data and analytics in insurance distribution are obvious and compelling, it is easier said than done. There are at least three components that must be solidly in place for any effort to have a chance to succeed. Companies should first identify their top priorities and opportunity areas and use these to define an overall data and analytics strategy. After the strategy is secured, the focus can turn to the acquisition of internal and external data that will be needed to fuel the analytics and modeling identified in the strategy. A distribution management system can be a key enabler here, by providing rich, granular data on channel and producer performance. At the same time, a sound data governance strategy must be put in place to ensure the quality, integrity and comprehensiveness of the data.

A final important consideration is how the analytics will be operationalized. Again, a distribution management system can play a key role here by being configured to gather and track the needed data and execute business rules created through analytics and models built by using the data.

The insurance industry may currently lag behind the Apples, Googles and Amazons of the world in both product engagement and distribution experience and effectiveness. Insurance, however, has an enviable amount of data, talent and technology at its disposal. Leading companies in our industry are leveraging these assets and may very likely be the next ones pointed to with admiration by consumers and other industries for their excellence in distribution.