Tag Archives: net promoter scores

Wave of Policyholder Benefits… Not!

Aside from the “not,” wouldn’t that have been a nice headline to see when the U.S. tax reform bill was passed and signed in December?

Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

The days and weeks leading up to the eventual passage and signing of the tax reform bill were exhausting. I actually stopped following too closely because, as with the health discussions, there were too many iterations to keep track of.

Once the tax bill was signed and put into law, though, many people, including me, were eager to find out what the eventual impact would be for our individual and company wallets.

One of the biggest pieces of the tax reform bill was the change of corporate tax from 35% to 21%. This is a huge break for companies and will give them a lot of extra cash to use to better their businesses. This is for all industries, not just Insurance.

A huge tax break should equal more spending by companies. This article takes a look at what announcements were made, how our industry is currently viewed and some tips for insurance carriers when they make their next statement linking back to the tax reform bill (or any statement for that matter).

See also: Tax Reform: Effects on Insurance Industry?  

What were the big announcements after the tax bill was signed?

Here is a sample of some of the headlines I have seen:

Companies are rushing to announce special bonuses and pay hikes after the GOP tax plan

This is just the start of companies handing out bonuses, raising wages and increasing spending

Whoa: Over 1 Million Workers Have Received a Bonus Since The Trump Tax Bill Became Law

Visa and Aflac boost 401(k) match after tax overhaul

About 29,000 Nationwide employees to get a $1,000 bonus

How is the insurance industry viewed in the market?

From a consumer standpoint, insurance is not the most-liked industry. Take a look at the chart below, showing average net promoter scores (NPS) within the U.S. insurance industry. This chart was taken from Bain’s Customer Behavior and Loyalty in Insurance: Global Edition 2017. There are also a number of other charts in the report, which are quite alarming.

The chart above points out two things to me:

  1. The average NPS for U.S. insurers is pretty dismal, far worse than I would have thought.
  2. Ecosystems are extremely valuable in engaging customers. (I write about this in my 2018 predictions.)

Many insurtech startups are capitalizing on the unhappiness of customers with their current insurance, even going so far as to make statements that insurance companies are in conflict to even do what they are intended to do, which is pay out a claim when a customer needs it.

The combination of these two facts builds on the negative perception of our industry, which means that insurance incumbents should tread a fine line in exactly what they advertise in the market. Case in point is AXA U.K.’s showcasing of how much in claims they actually pay (see image below).

Perception can often become reality

The perception of the insurance industry from a consumer standpoint can be summarized loosely with the information above.

This perception ends up becoming reality for many consumers when they have more bad experiences with their insurance as well as when they see an insurance company spending money on things other than the actual consumer.

See also: Why Fairness Matters in Federal Reforms  

I was having an e-mail conversation with a friend the other day about investing in the stock market vs. cryptocurrency. While we weren’t talking about the insurance industry specifically, I thought his reply related well to what we do and how customers view us.

‘Maybe it will be a good year for the market, but the real reason I’ve enjoyed cryptocurrency investing is that it’s not these old, rich, greedy, corrupt fat cats who control the market and know more than I do. And for the record, I know nothing about crypto. Even if it’s hackers that are scamming people, I’d rather play with money there than bet on companies. It’s this idea of the old guard that I was talking about, and anytime something new comes that threatens to disrupt and change the way something is done people will always say it’ll never work and try and discredit it.’

Read that again. Replace cryptocurrency/crypto with insurtech startup.


I am fully onboard with rewarding employees if a company has a windfall of cash. This is how you retain and make happier staff.

The same should be done in respect to consumers.

Though it is from the utility industry, look at the headline from Baltimore Gas & Co.:

Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. wants to pass on $82M in tax savings to customers after federal tax reform.

Can you imagine seeing an insurance carrier make an announcement like that?

Being the risk-averse business that we are, perhaps not.

However, for the one that is willing to make an announcement like that, I’d be interested to see the direct impact to their NPS.

This article first appeared on Daily Fintech

What Small Firms Want to Buy

American entrepreneurship is alive and well and growing! There are countless rags-to-riches stories of how people with a good idea, boundless energy and infectious optimism have made it big, or simply made a rewarding livelihood and legacy for themselves and their families. Today’s fintech and insurtech movements are testament to this in spades! And while most national news stories focus on big business, and national cultural events like Black Friday tend to overshadow small businesses, there’s a growing movement embracing these vital contributors to our communities and economy.

Insurance and other services are vital components for the vitality, risk protection and longevity of small businesses, and suppliers that are easy to do business with can capture a larger percentage of the market. Unfortunately, new research by Majesco, The Rise of the Small-Medium Business Insurance Customer: Shifting Views and Expectations…Is Your Business Ready for Them?, reveals that the insurance industry (as compared with other industries with which small businesses work) is “not easy to do business with.” The problem creates an opening for insurance startups.

The Rise of Small Businesses and the Shop Small Movement

On Nov. 26, 2016, the 7th annual Small Business Saturday event sponsored by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) was held to encourage shopping and patronage of local small business merchants – in the wake of the preceding day’s big box store Black Friday shopping hysteria.  According to research done by these organizations after last year’s Small Business Saturday, more than 95 million consumers shopped at small retailer businesses, spending $16.2 billion, up 8% from 2014. Interestingly, the event garnered support from many corporate sponsors – many of which count small businesses as their customers.

Millennials show strong support for local small businesses, indicating they want to be “connected” to the products and businesses they buy from. A study by Edelman Digital showed that 40% of millennials preferred to buy goods and services from local small business retailers, even if doing so cost more.

See also: Why Start-Ups Win on Small Business  

While Small Business Saturday and Buy Local have a decidedly retail focus to them, the importance of all types of small businesses cannot be overlooked. U.S. Census Bureau figures from 2014 showed that businesses with fewer than 10 employees make up nearly 80% of all firms in the U.S. This is a huge market with enormous needs for products and services, including insurance to keep them running, protected and competitive.

Where’s the Love?

The Rise of the Small-Medium Business Customer research sought to understand small-medium business decision makers’ perceptions and views of those who support and supply them, including insurance. Four hundred business owners were surveyed using the Census Bureau’s definitions of very small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), which we grouped into three segments (1-9 employees, 10-99 employees and 100-499 employees). The survey provided insights to evaluate perceptions on SMB customer views of insurance as compared with other businesses

The results were enlightening. Interestingly, fair price was more important than lowest price across all of the business segments. However, the ability to create a custom product from a range of options is more important than both lowest price and the ability to pick from a set of “pre-packaged” options. This finding reflects the increasing demand for personalization rather than price-driven mass production of insurance products.

Even more revealing were the results among the smallest (1-9 employees) businesses. The survey highlights that the traditional insurance business model has not been built with the capability to adequately meet the unique needs and expectations of SMBs. The industry has, instead, pursued a “one size fits all” approach. The consequences are that this segment of smallest SMBs (though with the largest number of such businesses) is uninterested in insurance, sees little value in insurance and considers insurance a necessary commodity or “necessary evil” required for their businesses.

All three segments of SMBs, regardless of size, did not rate insurance as being particularly easy to do business with, in terms of researching, buying and servicing products, compared with the other types of businesses we asked about in the survey. Among the 1-9-employee segment, P&C, life and employee benefits ranked in the bottom half on all three of these aspects.

Much more telling, however, this segment gave the lowest Net Promoter Scores (NPS) to insurance, showing a gap of as much as 60 points between insurance and the top business. (Net Promoter Scores measure the likelihood that a customer will make a recommendation to a prospective customer.)

Adding fuel to the fire, these small businesses were the least likely to say insurance was responsive, innovative, had easy to understand products and provided good value for the money. This is not a pretty picture for traditional insurance — but a great opportunity for innovative “greenfields” and startups.

Going Small Requires Big Thinking

Increasingly, small business customers are demanding a personalized and digital experience, representing the shift from mass standardiza­tion of insurance to the micro-personalization of insurance, requiring broader data and sophisticated analytics to truly understand and respond to small businesses as well as a digital experience via a multi-channel approach.

The rapid emergence of digital direct-to-SMB insurers and MGAs such as Assurestart (now part of Homesite/American Family), Cover Your Business.Com (a Berkshire Hathaway company), Hiscox, Insureon, Bolt, Slice and others are leveraging these ideas to reach the small business market. They are providing innovative products, streamlined and simple processes and digitally engaging capabilities that are extending the direct business model to SMB customers. In addition, aggregators, comparison sites or new distribution channels like Ask Kodiak help small businesses find the insurance products they need more easily.

Our research identified gaps between many industry-held perceptions and customer-defined realities, which expose an insurance industry steeped in tradition — its business models, business processes, channels and products that are difficult to find, buy and service — and opens the door to new competitors. We have seen this play out before with personal lines over the last 10 to 15 years. The difference is that the pace of change and adoption of a digital play is unfolding more rapidly this time in commercial insurance, demanding that insurers respond, because the window of opportunity is smaller.

Each company serving the SMB market must itself strategic questions, such as: “How do we bridge between the past, today and the future? How do we keep current customers loyal and engaged as we redefine our business to meet the needs of the vastly underserved and growing small business market? How do we get on par with other digital businesses that are setting new expectations for the SMB market?” If traditional insurers don’t ask these questions and respond, others will – taking current and future market share.

See also: Secret Sauce for New Business Models?  

Small businesses today are at the forefront of building new, technology-enabled, digitally first, innovative businesses that operate in a multi-channel world … like what we are seeing in insurtech. These businesses are increasingly led by millennials who have “grown up” digital and, as a result, seek fresh alternatives to age-old formulas … especially for insurance needs and offerings, helping them effectively meet their unique needs and expectations.  It’s time for the insurance industry to translate the good will from the Buy Local and Shop Small movements into big thinking and innovative solutions.

A new generation of small business insurance buyers with new needs and expectations create both a challenge and an opportunity. There is no clear path or destination. The time for plans, preparation, and execution is now — recognizing that the SMB customer is in control. Those who recognize and rapidly respond to this shift will thrive in an increasingly competitive industry to become the new leaders of a re-imagined insurance business that aligns to a rapidly growing, millennial-owned, innovative SMB marketplace.  Insurance companies must stop talking about the opportunities and being digital, and start doing something about it by using the disruption and change as a catalyst for “real change.”