BLOG: Insurance’s killer Catch-22

When it comes to technology in insurance, many agents are experiencing our industry’s very own Catch-22, writes NDOI’s Lynne Wallace

Insurance News


They call it a "Catch-22" when you need something that can only be had by not needing it. The term comes from a 1961 novel about an army psychiatrist who invokes "Catch-22" to explain why any pilot requesting mental evaluation for insanity in order to avoid flying dangerous missions is considered "sane" simply by making the request and thus cannot be declared insane. The "catch" was that anyone wanting to get out of combat duty isn't really crazy.

When it comes to technology in insurance, many agents are experiencing our industry's very own Catch-22. We want to give them responsive, individual attention and hands-on service, but without technology we are unable to give them the speed, accuracy and high-level options they really want because those options are only available through the technology they think they don't need.

Several months ago, an agent (let's call him Louis) promoted technology to a low-tech account and got significant push back. They weren't ready, too busy, confused. So Louis dropped back, brought out the paper, used emails and called it good to go. He actually boasted about the fact that his clients want his personal attention and weren't interested in the technology route.

Last week, Louis got a call from his client advising him that "as much as he hated to make the call" he was moving his insurance to another agent because of what that agent will be able to do for his company through technology. Louis was shocked. I asked what he thought happened? "Well," he explained, "unbeknownst to me, my client's son was doing some insurance shopping on the side. My client wasn't concerned about it, (he loves me) until his son showed him the time savings and fancy reports they could get instantly using the technology the new agent provided for free to his clients."

So when we push technology too hard on low tech people, they can think we are passing them off and, as a result, decide to switch insurance agents.

But ignore tech and instead provide old school one-on-one, hard copy, snail mail service and it's just a matter of time before the next generation jumps in with tech based warp speed and digital accuracy all in an app ... and for that reason, they change agents anyway.

The good news is that low-tech, no-tech options are temporary. Technological solutions are rapidly surfacing now and the advantages have only just begun to reveal themselves. As agents, it is simply time to recognize that part of risk management today is helping people connect with technology.

So tell us, how are you bridging the technology issue with your clients?

Lynne Wallace is the CEO and president of VANTREO Insurance Brokerage and co-founder of NDOI, the National Directory of Insurance.

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