Mega broker unveils digital platform for personal insurance

Evolving customer needs call for 'omni-channel' insurance experience

Mega broker unveils digital platform for personal insurance


By Gia Snape

Consumer preferences around insurance are evolving, spurred by digital transformation across all industries. COVID-19 has only accelerated the shift, as lockdowns forced people to get their all their solutions online or from mobile apps. An EY 2021 Global Insurance Consumer Survey found that consumers who preferred digital contact with their agents jumped from 30% pre-pandemic to 49% post-pandemic.

Digital experiences offered by Amazon and other large retail brands have set standards high, and consumers now want the same quality of engagement when they’re buying insurance. The challenge for brokers is how to strengthen their digital presence while still delivering valuable in-person service when customers need them, creating a hybrid “omni-channel” experience.

Recognizing this demand, HUB International has debuted its new digital platform for personal insurance. The Chicago-based brokerage aims to streamline the insurance quote and purchase process.

Bryan Davis, head of personal lines strategy and business development at HUB, said Viu will allow customers to engage however they want. Whether customers want a swift quote process that cuts down on manual research time, or a range of policy options to compare, the retail platform’s goal is to provide a seamless digital experience.

“Our intention for VIU is to be a full omni-channel experience,” Davis told Insurance Business. “Some customers may want a fully digital experience. Some customers may want a hybrid, where part of the experience they want is digital, but they want to be able to text with or chat with a human. Some would still want to go to a local agent, and we want the experience to be the same.”

Davis emphasized VIU’s flexibility in allowing HUB to adapt to customers’ needs during their journey. Noting that people’s insurance coverage needs change as they go through different life stages, Davis said HUB developed VIU to help close coverage gaps and provide expert broker advice.

“When their risk changes, whether they added a car, they’re now in a flood zone, or they had a new child, a broker is supposed to be there giving customers advice and counsel. So VIU stays with the customer throughout that,” he explained.

Carrier neutrality is also a distinct element in VIU’s features. The platform offers “comprehensive selection of insurance options powered by unbiased expertise,” according to HUB president and CEO Mark Cohen. It also aggregates customers’ policies in one place regardless of carrier, allowing them full view and control of their level of protection.

“We’re not trying to disrupt carriers. We’re quite candidly partnering very strongly with our carrier partners, to be a good broker for them,” Davis said, adding that it was HUB’s intention to be “carrier agnostic and customer centred.”

As the digitalization of the insurance industry rattles traditional roles and processes, Davis sees carriers prioritizing their claims and service delivery as distribution shifts over to digital brokering platforms.

“I think you’re going to see an evolution of carriers, and some are going to have to make some decisions on, ‘hey, do I spend a lot of time capital trying to be a good distributor [of insurance], or do I partner with large brokers like HUB and shift my efforts and energy to the claim side, the servicing and underwriting side of the business?’ And I can see a scenario where you’re seeing less emphasis on trying to be good distributors from the carrier side and more partnering with large brokers who are investing in digital capabilities,” Davis elaborated.

Alongside VIU, HUB is launching a new strategic partnership program to pair with auto dealerships, mortgage brokers, real estate agents and bankers, and other industries to offer insurance through the platform.

“I think that gives a good ecosystem of insurance protection for consumers, as these networks between retail markets, insurance markets, and social media platforms are becoming more closely connected. We’re trying to be a good insurance broker in that ecosystem, and we do think there is a role for good, strong carriers to do their role in that ecosystem. That’s kind of how I see this thing playing out over the next few years,” said Davis.

Learn the step by step guide on how to become an insurance broker here.

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