The personal lines segment has arguably been ahead of the pack when it comes to the race for digital transformation. Innovations in this space have accelerated in the past two years, as the pandemic created an essential and urgent need for people to get policies, pay bills or file claims online.
It’s no surprise, then, that many personal lines insurers are boosting self-service capabilities. Among them is CSAA Insurance Group, which has started to roll out its new online binding functionality. Initially available in Arizona, the insurer aims to expand to seven or eight states by the end of the first quarter of 2023.
“By mid-2023, we aim to have that functioning in all 23 of the states where we do business,” said Thomas Troy (pictured), president and chief executive officer of CSAA Insurance Group. “This is another important step in the evolution of our customer experience, catering to those who want to self-serve.”
The purchase experience would enable customers to maintain digital engagement with the insurer beyond the point of sale through CSAA’s online policy management system. It also enables them to enroll in CSAA’s mobile telematics program. CSAA said additional details will be available once the launch is complete.
An AAA insurer with more than 100 years of experience, CSAA Insurance Group offers auto, homeowners, and other personal lines of insurance. It is also among the leading property and casualty personal lines insurers in the US. Speaking to Insurance Business, Troy shared CSAA’s philosophy around technology and innovation.
“Our main focus is improving the level of service that we provide to our customers,” he said. “Other folks focus on modelling, price sophistication, and so on. I think those things are important, but we're taking a customer-first approach with our use of technology.”
He cited steps CSAA has taken to improve the online quoting process, such using external data sources where possible so that customers answer fewer questions, enhancing screen flow, and ensuring people don’t have to enter data multiple times when they’re seeking quotes for multiple products.
“That kind of structure can lead to the customer spending less time to get a quote and position them to make the right decision when buying our products,” said Troy.
Automating and streamlining the quote process also allows CSAA to focus on delivering the product to customers digitally, facilitating a good billing experience and providing flexibility around payment terms, and preparing to handle customers’ service needs if their life status changes, such as when they sell a vehicle or move into a new home.
Troy said CSAA’s goal is to make the full breadth of the customer experience “as seamless as possible,” including when the customer wants to help themselves. “In cases where they want to self-serve, we built technology that can help them get through that process easily and quickly,” he told Insurance Business.
“And in other cases, if the customer wants to call in and have a person help them, we can use technology to make that experience good as well, to save them time and give them what they need, when they need it.”
But even amidst the push towards direct-to-consumer policy binding, agents will continue to play an irreplaceable role, according to the CEO.
“The fact that some people want to get their policies online doesn’t take away from the reality that a huge number of customers rely on the agent’s expertise to help them ensure they’ve made the right choices, in terms of coverage limits and deductibles,” Troy said.
“In many cases, customers like to go to an agent who can analyze multiple quotes from different carriers, so the customers can be assured and feel confident that they’re getting the best value. No one likes to feel that they’re overpaying for their insurance.”
Troy praised the work that CSAA’s partner agents continue to do with their customers. He also believes that the technology improvements insurers are making will benefit agents in the long-term.
“If we can build online buying technology for a customer who doesn't know anything about insurance, those learnings can be used to perfect the bind experience that we create for the agents’ technology and make that even simpler,” said Troy. “I think that technology is not only usable in the agency channel, but it helps make the agent’s job a lot easier too.”