September 9, 2020
TABLE OF CONTENTS
In this brand new series from Levvel, our industry experts discuss the most important aspects of providing a great experience for insureds, where technology should be introduced to the relationship between the insured and insurer, and how tech enables insurance professionals to provide better experiences. We’ll share relevant stories from the field and how we’ve helped national insurers overcome their biggest challenges.
Over the coming weeks, new episodes will be released around the importance of providing a great insured experience and the direct impact modernization has on business success.
For more insurance modernization videos from our experts, check out Levvel’s State of the Insurance Industry series.
Devin Smith: So I think that the most important aspect of providing a great experience for insureds is getting the employee and the insurance professionals’ experience right. Because they are really the ones who are on the front lines with your insureds, and making sure that they have what they need to provide that experience is one of the most critical aspects of actually being able to make that happen. The three core audiences that come to mind are brokers, agents, especially captive agents, and your claims adjusters and managers. So for a broker, at the corporate level, that is the person that you really have to win over to be able to land a deal there.
And you wanna make sure that, especially in a time where we can’t really do a whole lot of meeting in person, that you’re providing a fantastic experience, and technology can really help that by making sure the communication is seamless. You wanna make sure that your brand can come through even when there is technology that is connecting you to, but also sitting between you and a broker. So with agents, especially with your captive agents, you know that they are an extension of your brand. They are the ones that are really interfacing with the insured the most, and you wanna make sure that that person has everything that they need to be able to provide an outstanding experience.
You have agents’ offices, their technology isn’t necessarily up to par with what customers expect from anything else that they deal with in their life. We’ve come to expect to be able to handle so many things via our smartphones, we’ve come to expect live chat, we’ve come to expect so many things that can be difficult for somebody that is in a captive agent’s office to be able to provide. And so that’s a gap that the insurance industry is trying to cover right now, is how do we get the experience of working with one of our agents up to the level of working with another company who may be a little further along in their technical implementations?
One of the things that we talk about a lot is technical debt. And the companies that are coming into this now have the advantage of building the infrastructure of their company operations without having to bring a legacy environment into the future, they’re building it digital native. And we do think that there is a challenge there, but there’s an advantage to the insurance firm that’s been there for a while that has the relationship, that has the brand cache, to be able to take the experience that they have now and get it to that level and be able to do things that a newcomer can’t do.
They don’t have decades and decades of brand reputation and trust built up with consumers. And they are gonna want to go with somebody that they can trust. And so that’s something that an established insurance firm has over a newcomer if they can get their technology and their customer experience to be at the same level. Claims adjusters and managers are also another part of the front line. When you’re dealing with an adjuster, you know that an adjuster, the good adjusters know that they can scale their businesses if they’re external, they can scale their businesses if the platforms that they use and the communication that they can have with the insured and also with the firm is great.
Time is money for them. And so they wanna be able to fit in as many claims as they can. And being able to have great platforms and great tools, and they rely a ton on technology more and more so every day to be able to process claims and to go out and inspect damage. The more that technology can help them do that, the more that they can focus on taking good care of your insureds.
David Antoline: One of the most important aspects of providing a great experience for insureds as an insurance company is to balance the operational constraints of a highly regulated environment, which insurance absolutely is, with expectations from the end customer that have been rising significantly in the last few years. And so you have end customers that are expecting to be met in a specific way with specific information.
And that’s really where they’ve set the bar. And the issue at the moment for the insurers is how to pivot to provide that level of service without extending beyond where they’re able to from a regulation standpoint and legally. And so it really comes down to the two sides of that equation for the insurer. The first is operationally, what can you change, and where can you become more flexible to really provide that data and that information in a way that’s consumable, that’s quick, and that is in that bite-sized element that your insurers are really expecting?
And then on the other side of the fence, when you think about the interfaces that your end customers are working with, that you give them the kind of experience that really walks through a process or a workflow or a particular question they might have in a way that feels very human, but also feels like it’s useful. And so you’re struggling always to combine this need to provide lots of information with this need to distill it down into bite-sized pieces without upsetting the regulatory constraints in which you’re of.
I don’t think there’s any doubt that insurers want their customers, they want their end customers to walk away from a claim situation feeling like they got taken care of. That is absolutely the objective of every insurer out there, is to ensure that that happens. And one of the challenges is that in many cases, this can be a fairly complex chain of events that has to occur. And that chain of events is not always inclusive of only employees of the insurer. There may be third parties involved. You also have variables that are outside of the control just from your end customer side. And so it can be very complex.
The other side of this is that you’re almost always dealing with a high pressure or time-sensitive situation. And it’s easy to see that in a claim situation because something negative has generally happened and there is a time element in which it needs to be resolved. But even for folks who are searching for insurance, oftentimes that activity is linked to something that is also time-sensitive. And so insurers are constantly up against the clock to provide this level of experience.
And so you’re balancing the complication of the workflow with the time-sensitive nature. And every small step that can be made to improve the experience for the end customer is one that’s going to pay dividends. And so the challenge and where we have seen some of the biggest growth is with insurers that are able to cut through some of that complication by creating a single experience in which everybody can work from.
And making it very clear to the end customer where things are in the process, and distilling the information and the data that’s pertinent at that particular step in a way that as an end consumer, I have the ability to see where are we, what happens next, and is there anything I should be doing to assist with the situation? And for the companies that really nail that experience, they’re the ones that are seeing the biggest uptake, not only in customer satisfaction but also in many of the other KPIs that are being tracked, to really drill down into the success of this particular area.
David Antoline: So I think the question of where technology should be introduced when you’re looking at that relationship between the insured and the insurer is it is complicated because the answer is potentially anywhere. But there are specific use cases that we’ve found to be particularly useful and particularly valuable to an insurance company that’s looking to really address some of that low hanging fruit.
And one of those areas is to really zero in on where are your areas of standardization? And one of the great things about the insurance industry is the standardization exists everywhere. And so it’s not hard to find those situations. Where you can really find value is to then say, okay, well, if these are the areas where we’re finding to be standard, where do we find the data to be fairly nuanced and super important to the insured?
And it’s the intersection of those two things. So a standard process or a standard step within a process mixed with data that is very specific to someone’s situation. You see this on the claim side, you also see it on the application side. And companies that are able to really execute in those areas and use technology to create that standard situation where a human may have needed to interject and to circle around a particular response for a while, where technology can actually help to give instantaneous results that are both meaningful to your insured, but not outside the bounds of the standards that you set for that process.
We often hear the value of insurance companies is in the massive amount of data that they record and that they hold in their systems. And one of the challenges with that data that is absolutely valuable is how you make sense of it and how you can really synthesize across a number of systems.
Some of which are very legacy, some may be new. And ultimately, how do you create these data points that are useful, that really allow you to create these end-user experiences that make people excited to interact with you and make them feel like there’s a real relationship there. And so, every step that insurance companies can make to better make use of that data, to synthesize in a way that creates usable data points, data points that really map to insights, that map to trends that are happening.
And probably most importantly, that allow individual insureds to be able to come back and say, yes, actually you gave me what I needed at the time that I needed it. Every little step that can be made in order to allow that to happen is something that has massive ramifications upstream, because it enables so many options for the folks that are then designing what it looks like to interact with your company on the front end.
Devin Smith: So I think that the best way to decide where to insert technology or where technology can help between insureds and insurers is to understand what things are going to be the sort of situation where somebody wants to talk to a person and where they don’t want to talk to a person. Generally, this is going to fall along the lines of a complex interaction, a crisis moment. Maybe they’re filing a claim.
Or if it’s not a complex situation, you’re dealing with something that’s standardized, that somebody doesn’t really want to have to talk to somebody if they don’t want to. They want to be able to just get the information that they need and to move on with what they’re doing. One of the things that we have to realize is that insurance because of the nature of what it is, when somebody’s filing a claim, when they have a loss, especially if they’re in a crisis moment, you have to know where to insert technology.
Insurance is essentially a people business when you’re dealing with somebody who has just lost something and they’re trying to figure out when or if they’re going to be able to recover that. So inserting technology has to be at the right spot. And that is one of the key reasons that is really empowering insurance professionals and employees with technology is one of the key things that you can do to improve that experience, because you don’t want to rely so much on technology that you take away the people aspect and miss an opportunity to form an emotional bond with your insured.
In a complex moment, technology can supplement the human aspect of working with an insurance firm, when you have a situation where you want to get some information quickly. Nobody wants to talk to a machine or an automated system when they’re dealing with something like a cyber breach or a tree fell through their house. They just got into an accident and there was an injury or slip and fall accident at their place of business. Those sorts of things you want to get on the phone and talk to somebody. But if you want to be able to get information quickly, or you want to be able to give your professionals the tools to be able to communicate effectively with their insureds, that’s where you want to insert technology.
You want to be able to make it so that they spend more time interfacing with the insured in their moment of crisis, less time looking up information. Being able to anticipate problems, being able to proactively send information to the insured so that they don’t have to ask questions. Those are some of the best places that you can insert technology into that relationship. When situations are standard and not so complex, you don’t want to waste your insured’s time making them get on the phone to call somebody.
I personally don’t want to have to get on the phone if I don’t have to, to talk to an agent or an adjuster, et cetera, if I don’t need to. And your adjusters and agents, et cetera, don’t want to have to do that. And you don’t want to ramp your overhead up by having to have so many people available to answer those questions. While there are regulatory barriers, there are a lot of things that can be provided to insureds by automated systems that saves you having to have people in place to handle things that could have just as easily and probably better been handled by a machine that saves somebody a phone conversation.
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David Antoline: There are so many ways that technology can enable insurance professionals to provide better experiences. But one of the main ways is how physical damage is covered and really how that process is handled. There’s a binary question of whether something is covered or not, and there are absolutely ways in which tech can be used to help get to that binary answer faster. But, you also get into situations that involve some nuance in, and involve calculation and processing that can be expedited by quite a bit when technology is involved.
So, an example for us is, we had a customer that was looking to ensure farm customers, and to do that, to cover the hundreds of acres and thousands of acres that are involved in those types of transactions, they actually use digital imagery and AI. And that was how they were quickly able to turn around, not only applications for their customers but how they were actually able to process claims and instances where physical damage was handled.
And there were really a couple of things that came out of that. For one thing, the accuracy of those claims improved, because the standards that are put in place. The logic that is used to interpret that photography and turn that into the handling of the claim is, just by definition, better than some of the older methods that were used. And so the companies actually find themselves to be much more accurate in terms of how they process those.
On the opposite side, the speed at which they’re able to come to a conclusion and communicate that back to the insured is significantly faster. It’s not only that it comes in a faster package, but the amount of detail that is provided back to the insured is also more significant, and so they’re looking at images of their own property.
They’re able to actually see where the damage occurred, where it didn’t occur, and really get an explanation for why it was that the company came to that conclusion in the first place. And those types of outcomes are incredibly important to, not only those that are insured, but they’re important to insurance companies in being able to scale up what they’re doing for those customers. And also to be able to introduce new products into those same spaces, where they’re able to simply change some of the variables, change some of the inputs, without having to redo the entire process and retrain people.
Devin Smith: Tech can enable insurance professionals to provide better experiences by being able to anticipate problems, like I’ve said before. One of the things that happened to me was, I had a standing water issue in my basement. I never dealt with that before and I didn’t know who to call first, and so I went online to start filling out a claim and I realized, as I got halfway into it, that I couldn’t answer all the questions.
So I just stopped filling it out and started trying to figure out what I needed to do. Well, after I did that, my insurance agent actually called me, they knew that I had started that claim and wanted to know if there was anything that they could do to help. They saw that I didn’t finish it. They called me, and when they missed me, they called my wife even, to make sure that everything was okay, and to see if we needed any help filling that out.
That’s an example of understanding the job, right? When you think about the job that I’m hiring the insurance company to do, I want help in a high stress situation, like having a ton of water standing in my basement. At the moment, I’m not thinking I want to fill out the claim. I’m thinking that I want the situation gone. I don’t know what to do, and I’m pretty stressed out about it. And the firm proactively saw that I obviously didn’t know what I was doing and I needed help, and they called to make sure that we could get through the process and to be able to move it along, without me having to pick up the phone and dial them, which was excellent.
If we think about how that experience could have been even better, it would have been awesome if I could have instantly taken pictures in the app and knowing whether something was going to be covered or not, without having to go and fill out the entire form. It would have been great to be able to have that app analyze the situation and save me knowing who I needed to call, maybe even tell me, “This isn’t going to be covered, but here’s who you need to talk to. Here’s a list of recommended professionals.” That right there is going to build such a rapport between me and my firm, I’m not going to switch with somebody that provides that level of service.
The longer that it takes to figure out whether something is covered or not, that’s more money that it costs them to figure out whether or not they’re going to have to actually provide a payout, or whether they’re going to have to call somebody and give them the bad news that something’s not going to be covered under insurance. Again, the longer that time goes, the more expectation is building with the insured, the more that stress is potentially building with the insured. So, being able to identify whether physical damage is covered or not is one of the prime areas where technology can help insurance firms out.
Another aspect of being able to augment the experience with technology is communication. After you’ve submitted the claim, it’s been approved, and you’re moving forward with getting damage repaired, or a loss recovered, one thing that you can do is to be able to proactively communicate with the insured, so that you can head off questions that they might’ve asked where they really just wanted a transactional exchange.
They just want to understand where the status is, what is happening with my claim? What’s the next step? Being able to proactively control that conversation and be able to provide assurance and a sense of relief is a way that technology could help. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have any person to person interaction, but that does mean that you’re emotionally setting yourself up for success and avoiding high stress situations between your professionals and your insureds.
But you’re also doing the work of removing unnecessary interactions that, again, could be the sort of thing that a person just wants to log into a portal and see, or get a periodic update in their email or via text message, so that they don’t have to pick up the phone and call somebody.
Vice President, Strategy
Managing Director, Commercial
Devin helps guide strategic direction at Levvel. He brings 20 years of experience in design, advertising, and development across a range of industries, including financial services, e-commerce, retail, and automotive. Having a passion for connecting design principles to business, he has led teams at multiple companies with an emphasis on driving growth through relentless dedication to quality and serving customers. He uses design thinking to provide a holistic, customer-centered, and cross-functional approach to solving real business problems.
Throughout his 15-year international career, David has held senior leadership positions in both startups and top tech organizations alike. Prior to joining Levvel, David's team built what has become the de facto enterprise software platform within the collegiate athletics market. As MD, Commercial, David applies a dedicated customer focus to Levvel's world-class delivery model and product offerings.
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