Could InsurTech Startups Be Friends—Not Foes?

The vibrant InsurTech industry is bringing a lot of potential to insurance players that, until now, have used traditional distribution methods to reach and serve the market.

InsurTech companies are carving out a niche in the insurance marketplace by being nimble and using disruptive technologies, such as big data, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and a mobile-first mindset. With the ability to integrate several technologies and new data sources, many of them are able to create new products and services faster than legacy carriers.

The agent-client relationship has been under pressure from technology for decades. First came mass advertising, then the telephone, the cell phone, email, the internet, social media and now the Internet of Things. InsurTech, then, is merely an indicator of changing consumer behaviors: They now have easy access to product and service reviews as well as price comparisons, particularly within the personal lines business. But this business model is also seeping into the small commercial market, where even the big players like Berkshire Hathaway are starting to go direct.

What does this all mean for you? In the absence of any additional perceived value from an agent, the consumer is left with just two factors to assess: product and price. With the amount of information instantly available, loyalty becomes secondary, and the consumer is more likely to switch providers or purchase policies directly from carriers and InsurTechs.

But what if instead of disintermediating the agent distribution force, the InsurTech movement could actually enable agents and brokers to do their jobs better—and stay ahead of the curve in an increasingly competitive industry?

The Problem with Tradition

The traditional insurance distribution process involves agents brokers generating leads, then supporting presales that later convert into sales. The team delivers the policies with involvement from the carrier to the policyholder.

But this traditional model of distribution involves friction in several areas.

First, the model of lead generation is generally not based on hard data or circumstances that may lead clients to look for insurance. The process also lacks a proper sales funnel to mold the customers during the decision-making processes. Identifying the right products for particular clients is generally not based on predictions of future risks or needs.

Second, this process presents problems with speed, service and accurate assessment of risk prior to pricing and binding the policy. Many carriers and their brokers still use time-consuming processes that require myriad human interventions.

What’s the Solution?

As every industry moves toward a wholly digital sales process, insurance can also reap the benefits of digitizing the sales process—and InsurTech can help.

InsurTech companies are reimagining this process by introducing various tools such as enhanced mobility, online straight-through approval and self-help tools powered by conversational AI to empower consumers to access the right information and make informed decisions. And a subset of InsurTech startups are focusing on making it easier for agents and brokers to map customer needs, answer questions and provide sound advice throughout the decision-making process.

If you want to thrive in this technologically changing world, you must change some of your processes, push your carriers to adopt some of these advances and consider partnering with InsurTechs to maximize sales and retention.

Here are a few examples of InsurTech firms that are partnering with agents and brokers to change the face of insurance brokerage, by focusing on increasing sales volume, matching customers with the right insurance policies and easing sales and claims processing.

Viewspection

Viewspection is revolutionizing the process of home and business inspections with an interactive mobile application that enables your policyholder to complete a photo tour of their property without you ever leaving your office, or walks you through your own site visit in minutes. All you have to do is follow the instructions, snap pictures of whatever’s being requested, and hit submit.

At that point, the app sends a full property inspection report directly to the agent or carrier for underwriting review. The two primary benefits are the near immediacy of the inspection report, and a cost reduction of two-thirds less than a typical in-person inspection.

Wellthie

Wellthie offers agents a multicarrier small group health insurance sales platform, enabling health insurance agents to display different production options at once for increased sales. It also helps you combine all ancillary quotes with medical quotes and manage all clients in one platform.

Konsileo

This U.K.-based commercial-focused InsurTech broker uses technology that addresses the operational challenges of regulatory compliance, data capture and duplication with an intuitive platform—giving you back more time to spend winning and retaining clients.

Apliant

This InsurTech is focused on developing an on-demand workflow management platform for the insurance industry. The company’s technology provides insurance agents with all the tools they need to generate leads on demand in one easy-to-use platform, which includes marketing, lead buying, a CRM and a comparator engine. Apliant increases your productivity and visibility with metrics that small insurance agencies historically have not been able to access, creating a better experience for both agents and customers.

Bold Penguin

Another InsurTech focused on the commercial insurance agent, Bold Penguin pushes the boundaries of user experience for businesses, created an easy tool for agents to quote and bind policies. It also offers a streamlined underwriting process for carriers. By focusing on all three actors in the insurance experience, the company has developed a platform that can streamline many of the quote and bind processes—ultimately improving the client and agent experience and ensuring a much smoother sales process.

Insurr

Have you ever worked with a client that needs specialty insurance, but you weren’t sure where to turn? Insurr is an online searchable resource for retail insurance agents to search and evaluate special risk insurance and connect with specialty and niche market providers.

Young Alfred

Insurance brokerage Young Alfred started with the premise that buying insurance is confusing and time-consuming. Billed as a hip family butler that just happens to know a thing or two about shopping for insurance, this company leverages external data as well as carrier- and policy-specific data to ensure the policy a consumer buys is personalized to their specific needs—and that in the unfortunate situation that they might need to file a claim, coverage is adequate.

By rethinking the sales process, leveraging billions of points of publicly available data and using conversational AI, Young Alfred created a very personal, advice-driven online sales process. If this brokerage could do it, so could you!

Your agency would be wise to begin tracking InsurTech investments and advances that could present opportunities for partnership. Partnering with InsurTechs and other digital service providers will enable you to transition from a traditional service delivery model to one that is innovative, customer-centric and technologically enabled.

This will not only jumpstart your digital transformation, but prove to be a mutually beneficial alliance for both sides: The agent or broker benefits from new, cost-efficient techniques and digital infrastructure such as cloud-based services, thus improving their speed to market, while the InsurTech benefits from the agent or broker’s legacy customer base and industry knowledge—which will ultimately improve profitability and return on investment for everyone.

Kaenan Hertz, Ph.D., is managing partner at Insurtech Advisors, LLC.