As a self-described tech geek, R. Dean Giem has served as past chairman of NetVU’s executive board of directors and on AUGIE Group’s executive council.
R. Dean Giem
Paradox Insurance Agency
Learning is the name of the game for Giem. Launching his insurance career 20 years ago with a direct writer, moving into the independent agency side and then starting his own independent insurance agency, Giem emphasizes the importance of evolving alongside technology and remaining flexible to change.
As a self-described tech geek, he’s taken the spirit of learning into industry leadership while serving as past chairman of NetVU’s executive board of directors and on AUGIE Group’s executive council.
“You’re either growing or you’re dying,” Giem says. “If you’re not embracing technology in a way that’s moving your organization forward or moving the industry forward, it’s not going to be something that’s sustainable in the long term.”
Biggest takeaways from your role at NetVU?
I’m seeking to be the voice for agencies like mine, small to medium-sized agencies, about the challenges that we experience integrating technologies and help others feel heard through that process. It’s never really done; this world is constantly moving and we need to reevaluate on a regular basis if we’re going to continue to improve.
Tech accessibility for small agencies?
In the past, automation technology was something that you had to have relatively deep pockets for. Over the past three to five years, a lot of that technology is now available to lower-revenue generating organizations. It’s becoming mainstream—and required.
In the next two to three years, there’s going to be a major shift in the way data is collected, consumed and shared. It’s going to have a fallout effect on how we’re gathering our information and exchanging it to properly place coverages.
Why start your own agency?
There are a lot of different pieces of the puzzle when it comes to the insurance world, and I've always had a fascination and a real drive to share the industry with others. I love the education side of what we do, both internally and with clients.
With clients, I enjoy helping them understand their risk exposures, their policies and what they can do to protect themselves. And on the inside of the agency, I enjoy helping our staff further their education and help them be better tomorrow than they were yesterday. That was a driving force for me in a lot of different ways.
Key things you keep in mind when introducing new tech in your agency?
It's part of our culture. It's who we are. Identifying the fact that everything we do is driven toward the client experience and making that as easy and as simple as possible provides a foundation to the rest of the conversation, including technology. As long as we are really driving the conversation to the user experience, introducing new technologies becomes second nature.
Bringing our staff and teams into that conversation and offering them the ability to help drive things that they feel would be advantageous is the next most important part.
How's your experience been in AUGIE Group's executive council?
I'm surrounded by great minds that are working to improve the insurance industry from all levels. There's such a wow factor with what's out there but there's still so much to be learned, shared and grown.
What's a notable change in the InsurTech space?
We're starting to see the affordability and accessibility of technology improve in the industry. It's very exciting, but it also levels the playing field in a lot of ways. It makes it easier for small agencies to capitalize on opportunities that maybe the bigger organizations aren't able to.
Word of advice to other agency owners on tech?
Embrace it, don't be scared of it. Identify what your biggest pain point is and find a technology solution. Sharing with and challenging each other is critical to making sure that we're doing better for our end user.
AnneMarie McPherson Spears is IA news editor.