The message to ‘go digital’ or risk extinction is one that brokers are used to hearing as consumer expectations change, and new technologies improve backend and frontend insurance processes. Nonetheless, brokers shouldn’t throw out old technologies and ways of communicating with clients for the next shiny thing, according to one broker who’s navigating this landscape.
“We all know the digital age is upon us and brokers are feeling the pressure to ‘digitize or die’, and I do believe that is extremely important, but you can’t lose what has made the broker core so strong for so many years, which is access to an insurance professional who is on your side,” said Barry Haggis, insurance broker at Young & Haggis Insurance Services.
“Our clients have access to our website for online quotes and access to our app, where they can print pink cards and look at their policy documents. We are [also] equipped with e-signature capabilities to make signing documents easier, but at the end of the day, our clients know that if they need to, they can pick up the phone and talk to one of us in a heartbeat.”
For brokers wary of the investment required to meet customers in every place that they do business, the goal is to work smarter and not necessarily be on all platforms at all times.
“We have never advertised in the phone book, and we don’t put a lot of investment in making sure that we are on the first page of an online search,” said Haggis. “We get our business through referrals and doing things the right way. People talk and insurance can be a sore spot for some people. If we have clients talking about a positive experience they had with our brokerage and the level of service we offer, the new business flows in. We would rather communicate with a client personally, and get to know them so we can build that relationship from the beginning.”
Focusing on its work at the local level, rather than having all of the newest capabilities, has meanwhile been an effective strategy for another brokerage.
“Our strength is in our local approach. Our people are well-equipped and knowledgeable, and we can utilize that immediately. We don’t have to rely on being a big broker that has a lot of capabilities or clout or pull with certain insurers,” said Pierce Krol, CEO at Elevate Insurance Brokers. “We like to be able to be nimble, we like to be able to make decisions at a local level. By doing that, our people tend to respect us more and really work hard because they can see the fruition of their work at a local level.”
That’s not to say the digital evolution hasn’t brought useful technologies into the fold that brokers can use in their day-to-day work to improve efficiencies.
“The digital advancements in the insurance industry have been a positive change,” explained Haggis. “We can take advantage of lead management software, segregating your books, marketing campaigns, and more points of contact with your clients.”
Even for brokerages that don’t see themselves as first movers in technology, the benefits of tech can’t be underestimated, especially as they improve the customer and broker experiences.
“I think technology is still a positive,” said Krol. “Our brokerage isn’t known for being a technological leader by any stretch of the imagination, but a lot of the insurance markets are using technology to make their products better, to make their products stronger, [and] from an analytics standpoint, they’re trying to better predict claims scenarios so that they can underwrite more effectively.”