Insurance Technology Trends

There are several trends that are making a huge impact on the auto insurance industry. Some of these include maximizing efficiency, attracting fresh talent to the industry, and making people’s data more secure. 

AI

Artificial Intelligence has the ability to completely transform the insurance industry in areas from productivity and customer service, to security. New functions that focus on fraud protection help not only the insurance providers but also the customers who follow the rules. Robo-advisors are on the horizon which will save both clients and underwriters unnecessary wait times. The development of 24/7 chatbots has already been well-received for common user questions.  While humans are still working in tandem with machines, it is no secret that companies need to embrace this technology in order to survive in their industry. One example of AI already at work is CARPE DATA, which gathers real-time data and uses it for predictive scoring for every stage of an insurance lifecycle, including claims. Shift Technology is a company that focuses on fraud detection specifically for the insurance industry. 

Blockchain

Blockchain maintains the same advantage as the World Wide Web, in that there is no main point of control. Blockchain technology acts like a virtual ledger that records all transactions in a secure, unchangeable way. It takes the place of having a third verification party for each transaction, thereby saving the insurance company money which in turn, gets passed down to customers. Using this technology, insurers can quickly verify credentials, historical data, and contracts. It is also nearly impossible to duplicate, because of it’s multi-level verification transparency. It is a perfect fit for apps like Teambrella, who apply the democratic notion of insurance and filing claims. They support the concept of teamwork being part of every decision. Users cover each other and vote on payouts and premiums, as opposed to being presented with a limited number of options to choose from. Blockchain technology is used to securely handle all payments put all minds at ease. Lemonade makes full use of AI and blockchain technology to call themselves the home, rental, and pet health insurance provider for the 21st Century. The philanthropic arm of the firm also donates a portion of profits to various causes.

 

Machine Learning Transforming Insurance

The insurance industry is by far heavily dependent upon statistics and analytics. It thrives on data. By examining a variety of data and looking for patterns, they are able to predict probabilities. This helps insurance providers create personalized risk profiles, which are used to drive an individual’s premiums and payout amounts, among many other factors. Machine learning has taken away some of the tedium involved in data gathering and investigating insurance fraud, in addition to helping the insured get the help they need. 

Common sense dictates that the best protection against danger is prevention. Vision Zero is the goal of a worldwide zero-tolerance policy for traffic deaths and injuries. Many companies are on the path towards accomplishing it thru AI. Zendrive is a mobile app that monitors customers’ driving behavior. Through the use of sensors, it can help detect potential collisions, track phone use while driving and help the driver avoid drifting, among other features. It can also use this data to reward good drivers with auto insurance discounts. 

Despite all precautions, sometimes accidents do happen. When a claim is filed, it typically passes through checkpoints as it moves through the processing system. When it’s all human-controlled it can be a lengthy process. The advent of machine learning has automated the process for many standard claims, which frees up the system to concentrate on the ones that need more time for investigation.

Healthcare underwriting is another area that has benefitted greatly by a data-driven approach because of the cost of diseases, accidents, disabilities, and death. Daisy Intelligence uses artificial intelligence to suggest prices based on individual risk profiles.

One roadblock in any human-to-computer interaction is the difficulty in parsing human handwriting into usable data. Captricity uses an algorithm called READ that is able to read and extract data from both handwritten or typed forms with 99.9% accuracy. Lemonade is a carrier that uses AI to process all of their claims quickly and efficiently, providing customers with faster payouts. 

In addition to saving money for both the clients and the insurance carriers, AI-propelled chatbots can provide 24/7 customer care service to the majority of questions people need to be answered in a hurry. When it comes time to choose an insurance plan, customers can use AI resources to narrow down their choices to match the best plan for themselves and their families.  Not only does this free up phone lines during business hours, but it also goes a long way towards relieving people’s anxiety about claims, billing, and payouts. 

Updating Your Business’s Best Practices

When people discuss the best practices of a business, they are usually describing the policies, ideas, and ethics that represent the most sensible course of action in any given business situation. The best practices of a company are usually decided upon by a company’s management team and they are created to fix problems in the most prudent way possible. In addition, best practices are in place to encourage positive employee morale and to help people succeed.

Deciding on which best practices you intend to follow as a business should be something you as a management team agree upon during the earliest stages of company creation. It is tied in very closely with a company’s culture and how freely the employees feel they can come to their leaders with issues or for guidance. Employee engagement is one of the most important practices, as it makes them feel like they are a part of the company. Holding all-hands meetings to announce when changes occur and then giving employees the opportunity to ask any follow-up questions is a great motivator. Highlighting good performance by giving shout outs and honoring employees of the month are other ways of recognizing the efforts of your team members.

 In addition to hosting meetings, a good rule of thumb is to get employee feedback every few months on how they feel best practices are being used. As a leader, it is your job to be open to critique and suggestions without taking any of it personally, so ask the right questions that will really encourage people to give constructive answers. Most importantly, let them see that you take suggestions seriously by incorporating effective changes in the workplace and showing consistent enforcement.

If a major update is going to take place, it’s important to make sure that everyone is involved when it is announced. The last thing you want is for some people to not be alerted to an announcement and find it out through other channels. All people should be notified at the same time. Introduce change slowly and with plenty of time for training. All change will come with a learning curve. 

How To Build A Strong Company Culture

The key to a successful business is happy employees. The key to happy employees is a strong company culture. 

When people are happy to come in to work every day, it makes them want to do better. Enjoying your office space and work surrounding is so important. By keeping employees happy and comfortable in the office, they will perform better.

Now that you know why its so important, here are some ways that you can improve your company culture:

Creative work space — Non traditional office spaces evoke creative work out of employees. Sure, having a desk and personal space to get your work done is important, but collaborative spaces have also proven to boost company culture.

Create a common space where employees can go to work when they need a change of pace. Everyone works differently, perhaps some employees would do better with a standing up desk option, while others might prefer to work on a couch with a lap top. You are doing your company a dis service to limit these kind of options. 

Flexible work hours — As I mentioned before, everyone is different. Not every employee will come in and do their best work from 9-5. Some people are feeling energized and ready to work really early in the morning and might like to come into the office around 7AM, while others cannot be productive in any capacity before noon. Grant the flexibility to your employees and watch the work quality sky rocket.

Foster an environment where people want to be — If employees enjoy the space that they work in, they will perform better. Company culture doesn’t come out of nowhere. It is up to the employees to participate. Hold weekly contests for some friendly office competition, start some clubs in the office that people can attend after work hours. For example, a yoga club led by someone in the office who is particularly fond of yoga. Wednesdays at 6 you all meet in the lounge and engage in a relaxing session before going home for the day. Not only are you potentially learning a new skill, you’re spending time with people from your office in a non work related way, allowing you room to get know your coworkers.

Social activities out side of office — Incentivize employees to meet goals with group outings as the reward. Happy hours are a great and easy thing to plan to celebrate the hard work of your employees that also goes along well with my last mentioned point. When people like the people that they work with, they are more inclined to come in and do their best. When they really enjoy to be where the work, they will go the extra mile. They will stay late to get some extra work done because their friends are staying late as well. 

Best Practices: Retention & Customer Service

Running a business largely depends on maintaining and gaining customers each month. For an insurance agency in particular, retaining customers and making sure they are satisfied with their insurance agent will play a major role in deciphering your insurance company from many others. Here are a few ways you can make sure that your customer service is above and beyond so that you can retain customers and grow your business:

First, know your customer. At many insurance agencies, people become numbers and there are very little personal interactions and connections between employees and customers. A good company, regardless of what type of business it caters to, knows the people they are serving – without them, business would plummet. Communication is key when it comes to building relationships with your customers, so be sure your employees are great at effectively communicating. Nobody wants to get help from a computer, so make sure your employees don’t sound like one. Having compassion for customers is the initial step towards great customer service.

Amigo MGA Alan Rasof

Next, your employees should be knowledgeable and know how to answer questions about insurance policies in general and specific to your company. In the event that a question cannot be answered, there should be a protocol for your employee to tell the client that he or she will speak to a manager and will give them know as soon as possible. Make sure a follow-up email or phone call is setup so that the client is not left hanging. Your employees should speak with confidence and be well-educated for their position. If your company does not have a basic annual training program for both new and old employees, that is something that should be implemented right away.

Another aspect of customer service that your company should be up to par with is answering emails and responding to phone call in a timely fashion. No customer should be left in the dark if he or she has a question or is expecting an update of some sort. Be sure that your employees have a 24-48 hour rule when it comes to responding to voicemails and emails – even text messages if everyone has a company cell phone. Being attentive and responding to customers is extremely important for your business, because if you don’t respond the customer is not likely to a) refer you to prospective clients and b) have a good experience with the company, which could lead to negative feedback and may eventually not be a customer anymore. Even if the question seems vague or unimportant, your employees should hop on the phone with the customer and listen to what they have to say.

Amigo MGA, Alan Rasof

In conclusion, if customers are not satisfied with the service you are providing, they will not continue to use your product. Communicating effectively and responding quickly to voicemails, emails, and text messages are great ways to stay in touch and actively engage with your customers so that they will want to stay with your company as long as possible.

Best Practices: Training Employees

Training employees so they can know the ins and outs of their job as insurance agents is vital to their own personal success, as well as the success of your business as a whole. Perhaps what’s even more important than training employees is the way you execute training.

Often times, agencies do not train employees specifically for their job duties. In turn, this leads to employees being disengaged in training, and it ends up being somewhat of a waste of time. Instead, everyone in the insurance agency should be trained based on their specific position and not a position that they are not specialized in, nor should they be. For example, a receptionist should not be in the same training circle as an employee in service since a receptionist has different duties that involve looking up clients instead of servicing business. Though the receptionist should have a general understanding of how the service works, it is not necessary for him or her to go through intensive training for a position other than his or her own.

Amigo MGA, LLC

In addition to catering training based on separate departments of your company, there should always be a set date and time for training so that your employees can get on a regular schedule. Your company may even have a certificate program that lasts for six weeks, scheduling in 2-3 hours of training each week in different segments. According to an article published on InsuranceJournal.com:

“Make a plan for dates and times for training. Post where everyone can see. No vacation time during the training period should be scheduled. Someone in management that can answer specific questions about the standards and processes must be present in every session. Questions should never be left just hanging in the air,” (Alexander, Best Practices – Training & Implementation).

Furthermore, your staff should understand that training is a vital necessity of their job, and they should take it as serious as any other part of the workday.

Having a staff that is fully engaged during these important training sessions means that they are eager to learn more about their job, and in turn will boost company confidence. If any questions arise, your staff should be open about asking them – and higher-level managers and company executives should be prepared to answer anything that comes up. It is also imperative that if there is something that member of your staff do not understand during training, they let the trainer know so that they can leave the session with full clarity in what is being taught.

Remember, training employees should be taken very seriously, and your employees should know that there are consequences for non-compliance, as well as rewards for compliance.

Insurance Agency Best Practices

There are many steps to take when it comes to establishing your insurance agency as one that your customers would recommend. Being willing to make sacrifices along the way is just one element towards maintaining a well-liked, efficient, and effective insurance agency. Here are a few best practice tips to help your insurance agency gain recognition throughout your area:

Amigo MGA

First, always focus on customer service and satisfaction. A great way to keep track of your agency’s customer satisfaction, besides calculating renewal rates, is to provide an informal survey that caters to your customers’ perceptions and includes suggestions to help improve your service. Always remember to go out of your way for customers, and try to go above and beyond their expectations.

Second, build a valuable staff with well-educated, personable employees that are not only great people for your customers to trust, but a pleasure to be around in the office environment. You should also provide training and tools your staff needs to do their jobs effectively with utmost efficiency. Incorporate leadership programs and reward employees when they are showing improvement and helping your agency meet its goals. Remember to celebrate and keep your workplace in a positivAmigo MGAe environment.

Third, be sure your agency has a clear mission statement that everyone who partakes in your company knows by heart. This statement should be the focus of your agency and customers should understand its meaning.

Fourth, your agency should be up-to-date with technology. Many companies are in a decline due not be able to adapt to current technological trends and improvements. Technology is a necessity for helping your agency grow, keep customer contact, and complete tasks efficiently.

Finally, always seek for continuous improvement. All companies should be seeking to improve at all times – a company cannot grow if it is not measuring its performance against its past performance (and that of competitors).

Very First Post

Hello, and welcome to Amigo MGA’s blog for insurance professionals.  Be sure to stay tuned for what’s to come.