The digital transformation is upon us. It has revolutionized many industries, and property and casualty insurance is no exception. Agencies are now empowered to become more efficient, accelerate their sales, and provide the kind of customer service people now expect.
Some of these things have been building for a while, such as big data and digital communications platforms. Others, though, are a reflection of growing trends in society. The pandemic accelerated some of these trends as insurance companies were forced to rapidly pivot to a work from home environment and consumers changed their expectations.
As an agent and agency, you need to increase sales, but these changes have often caused sales to go down, For example, many people are waiting longer to buy a home, meaning that there are fewer people buying homeowners insurance (although more buying renters insurance).
Grow Your Business With Digital Transformation
Embracing digital transformation helps you grow your business by meeting your customers where they live, not to mention increasing scalability. It helps make sure that you have a presence across the internet, and improves scalability by allowing your sales people to handle more leads. However, it is not always easy to do and if done wrong you can end up with significant missteps.
Make More Money & Lower Operating Costs
By lowering your overhead and making your sales process more efficient, digital capabilities can also help you make more money. It can reduce the amount of manpower spent on sales, for example, and allow you to put off expanding your sales team. You can then invest in further digital technologies to bring your agency firmly into the twenty-first century.
What is Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is best described as implementing new technology to improve every aspect of your agency. Digital transformation is, for example, not just having a way to send claims through your website and stopping there.
Digital transformation initiatives can modernize and streamline everything you do. Perhaps you can use machine learning to spot unusual claims patterns or to aggregate policyholder data and allow you to smartly set premiums.
It is an entirely holistic process, ideally using high quality insurance agency management systems to bring together as much of the process as possible, without having to use a lot of siloed software. Many older systems put claims in one place, premiums in another, and don’t connect multiple policies held by the same person.
Benefits of Being Digital, and How It Can Increase P&C Insurance Sales
So, more specifically, how can this digital transformation increase P&C insurance sales? The primary reason it increases sales is by improving your customer service and meeting the expectations of consumers who are now used to doing everything online. Some more specific things it does are:
Streamlines P&C Insurance Claims
Not having a solid, streamlined claims process can cost you customers. If filing a claim is too frustrating, they are likely to leave, or give you a bad review.
A digital claims portal allows everything to work well. First of all, your policyholders can access everything through this portal. You can use the portal to send out claims prevention messages and other educational information, as well as to communicate through the entire claims process.
For example, let’s say somebody reverses into a beam they didn’t see in a parking lot. They can use the portal to make a claim, uploading photos of the damage and quotes from mechanics.
You can then look at it and assess what the damage should be and whether the quotes are reasonable. You can provide them the information they need to successfully make a claim. This increases payout speed and helps reduce customer anxiety. At the same time, the driver can, through the same portal, access advice on what tires they should use in the winter or what they should keep in their car.
This meets and aligns with their expectations and also saves time for your adjusters. The portal handles routine communication and frees them up to do the more challenging and interesting parts of their job. On top of that, the increased transparency reduces the chances of litigation.
Be Where Your Customers Are
You need to meet your customers where they are, and where they are is online. Your marketing efforts can flow across multiple channels, following customers from Facebook to Twitter to Linkedin.
The system can also send email reminders, ensuring that your customers pay and renew on time, and it can look at the pattern of their claims, behavior, and overall life and recommend any changes to policies or new policies.
You should be careful, of course, not to be “creepy” with your marketing and remarketing, but at the same time, customers will appreciate knowing what you have to offer that might be an upgrade on what they already have.
You have a finite number of salespeople who have a finite amount of time between them. Scaling this up can be expensive and take an extended amount of time. In many cases, you risk leaving sales on the table because you don’t have the resources to handle them.
Here is where artificial intelligence comes in. An artificial intelligence chatbot can pre qualify leads, meaning sales people only have to talk to people who are already qualified.
Brokers can also handle a higher number of claims, using a broker platform that lets them see status, identify suppliers, track next steps, etc. This is particularly important during a disaster, when a large number of claims may have to be processed in a short period of time. You can provide better customer service and increase customer retention.
Digital transformation organically results in cost savings for you and your agency. For example, implementing a system makes it easier for staff to work from home, meaning you don’t have to pay for as much office space.
It also reduces costs in the following ways:
- Automates part of the claims process, reducing time and cost, and eliminating most claims processing errors.
- Provides telematics, which allow you to monitor a policyholder’s behavior and set premiums accordingly. The possibility of a discount encourages your policyholder’s to change behavior, such as driving more carefully or engaging in healthier behavior. This, in turn, reduces the number of payouts you have to make.
- Improves agent productivity and performance by providing better training.
- Uses chatbots as the first interface with customers. Many transactions can be finished without the need for a human, which means that customer service reps can spend more time on each problem and improve retention. Chatbots save money by reducing the number of representatives you need.
You may find even more opportunities for cost savings for your specific business as you explore digital transformation further.
Reduces Risks and Fraud
Insurance is a business of risk, and managing it properly is part of any agency’s job. With insurance heavily regulated and high compliance costs, small errors can lead to large losses.
Digital platforms can help with compliance in two main ways. First, they can help avoid minor errors that can result in inadvertent compliance problems (or other issues such as lawsuits). Second, a well-designed platform will remind you of compliance issues as they come up, ensuring that you don’t make an error when processing a claim.
There are other ways in which digital transformation reduces risk. We’ve already mentioned telematics. You can use smart devices in homes and cars to monitor and adjust policyholder behavior. These devices can also assess the damage when a claim is filed. Artificial intelligence can help you identify false claims by flagging things which don’t fit a reasonable pattern. The AI alone should not be used to deny a claim, but can be used to draw broker attention to a potential irregularity that can then be investigated.
Challenges of Transforming a Traditional Agency to Digital
All of this said, it is not always easy to manage digital transformation. A number of challenges can stand in your way.
Lack of IT Expertise
Most agencies do not have the in-house IT expertise to manage these kinds of expert systems. Outsourcing the IT expertise can help here, and using an insurance agency management system which comes with support is often the best way to handle it.
In-house IT expertise, including user support, can sometimes be prohibitively expensive for smaller agencies and can be a major budget item for larger ones.
Transferring Everything From the Old System
Likely, you have a lot of information in both digital and, worse, physical files that you need to transfer to the new system. This can be extremely time consuming and has a high risk of errors. There’s the risk that files you need could be forgotten or lost in the shuffle.
Many agencies have become highly reliant on legacy software, and sometimes on levels of software. That is, you keep adding systems on the old platform, layering them until it becomes bloated.
Finding the time and resources to transfer everything is a major challenge.
Investment in the Right Resources
Knowing where to start is also a challenge. Investing in the right resources to start your digital transformation can be confusing, even overwhelming. A lack of proper change management is a key issue here. Many companies don’t know how to communicate the change, which processes to retire first, etc.
Implementing new technology without considering whether it is the right choice and how to move things forward is not enough.
Lack of Training and Skills
Finally, your brokers and other staff need to be able to use and understand the technology. There is a large skills gap in important areas such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things.
Insufficient training means that your employees may not use the new system at all, but may drift back to legacy systems they are comfortable with. Employees who don’t feel comfortable using the new tools and who aren’t getting the training and support they need are much more likely to leave, resulting in high turnover and related costs.
The Benefits Outweigh the Challenges
Despite these challenges, the overall benefits of digital transformation are extraordinary. Companies that successfully navigate the change will see higher sales, lower overhead, and higher customer satisfaction. Their employees will also be more productive and engaged as they are freed from tedious processes which can be automated.
P&C insurance agencies simply can’t let themselves be left behind. If you are still using legacy technology and ignoring the significant benefits of modern data and management systems, it’s time to change.
How InsurGrid Digital Technology Can Help Clients Get More Sales
InsurGrid provides a better client experience by making it effortless to share dec pages. It helps your sales people convert more leads and encourages multi-line accounts that have much higher retention (75% on average).
Try InsurGrid today to find out how we can help you make more sales, earn more money, and offer a better experience to your clients.