2020/09/18

Guest Post: Innovation is Required for Success in Insurance

Written By: Krista Chasmar

The below article was originally written by Krista Casmar detailing her experience with insurance payments and the frustration of the flow of communication within the insurance industry.

Upon graduation from college, my 25 year old daughter took a job in Dublin, Ireland. When she made her international move, she appropriately checked all the boxes of someone leaving their country for an extended period of time. 

She rented the home she owns in South Florida, she opened a post office box so the little bit of mail she received would not arrive in her tenant’s mailbox. She even called in the favor of asking her mom to check said post office box every so often, just to be sure nothing important made its way in there.

This didn’t seem like a big ask as my millennial daughter literally grew up on a computer, I remember vividly at two years old putting the Dr. Suess’ ABC disc into the drive and excitedly teaching her the alphabet through a computer screen. 

By the time she was five years old she could navigate her way around a computer like no one’s business. So I was well aware that all her bills were paid online. International banking could be handled seamlessly and far less expensive than when I was her age, even international communication is easy and free. She had this all under control.

The Insurance Nightmare

Imagine my surprise when I happened upon a Cancellation Notice of her homeowner’s insurance policy upon a routine check of her mail. 

In July. 

In South Florida. 

With hurricanes brewing like an evil witch potion all over the Atlantic. 

I was livid. We raised her better than this, she understands her financial responsibilities! She pays her bills online. How could she ever let anything, especially this, slide by her? 

When I called her, speaking in my very serious “mom-tone,” prepared for a long lecture about how she chose to make this move, and therefore needs to be responsible enough to stay on top of her obligations at home, etc., etc., I was met with equal frustration on her end of the call. 

“Why is it that EVERY company I deal with makes paying bills easy except my insurance company Mom?” 

She went on to tell me how awful they were; this time, she had no renewal notice, no invoice, nothing in her inbox - and I knew nothing of that nature had come via old fashioned snail-mail. She reminded me that last year, she tried to login and pay her homeowner’s insurance online several times but it kept kicking her out, she guessed because her IP address was not in the states. She went on to say how frustrating it was because she couldn’t even see their website on her phone and actually had to use her computer which meant it was always after work and she was exhausted. 

She eventually had to call her agent, hold for an extended period of time, just to be told that her agent had no answers as to why the “payment portal” (where you are asked to re-enter all your information; policy number and payment information every. single.time. you wished to make a payment) wasn’t working. Perhaps it was a glitch, maybe the system has been down? Ultimately, her agent was able to key her credit card in over the phone to take last year’s payment. 

She continued on, frustrated, “after all that, and now I don’t get an invoice, a reminder, anything?” She decided it was time to move on to another insurance company. 

This is NOT Just a One-Off Story

The irony was not lost on me. 

I, too, have been frustrated by my own insurance company’s payment system, which up until just a couple years ago only allowed me to pay by check, but had since upgraded to a payment platform that allowed me to enter my policy information and credit card information to make payments. But my daughter was right, every other invoice is direct debited from my account. 

I don’t log-in to pay bills anymore, and I’m far from being a millennial, which really made me wonder... in a world where I can ask Alexa to ship my dog food while I stand in my kitchen chopping onions and never even touch a single device or click any buttons… Why is the insurance industry so far behind? 

The Rising Generation

And if I see it, what do millenials and Gen Z see? 

I did some digging, both because I wanted to help my daughter find a better solution, and I was willing to make the move with her if I found a good company. 

As I started digging I learned that over a quarter of millenials and Gen Z find their insurance online, with 55% of them using search engines to learn more about products with their primary device being their mobile phone, according to a Google Consumer Barometer Study. When questioned, 74% of millennials and Gen Z said mobile app access is very important to them when buying insurance. 

No surprises there, being a “middle-aged” woman even I notice I use apps for all kinds of crazy things, like my electric company app to compare this year's kilowatt usage against last year's… 

We’re all very dependent on our phones and apps.

What was surprising and disappointing, frankly, is that I can find very few insurance companies that are even trying to rise to the challenge. 

Living in Florida, we don’t have the luxury of deciding amongst a big pool of carriers who will write my homeowner’s policy, but of the companies that will, none offer an easy payment experience. 

Maybe that’s the problem, maybe insurance companies think we need them so much we’ll pay no matter how inconvenient it is - they’ve got us over a barrel.  I may never have gone searching for a new company had this experience not occurred with my daughter, and perhaps insurance company’s are depending on that... But those days are numbered. 

The death of the checkbook

My parents expected to write a check when they paid their bills. One generation later, I don’t know if I even have a checkbook anymore, and I am irritated if I have to key my credit card or dig up my bank routing and account info to electronically pay something. 

I’m the woman who will find something she loves online and when I see a long checkout process, I copy and paste the product into Amazon. It’s free shipping, so I don’t care if it costs a little more. Honestly, the time I would have used to fill everything out in that shopping cart is worth those extra few dollars. 

My time is valuable and insurance companies need to see that. 

If I think this way, what do you suppose the next generation will expect? Better yet, what will they accept? 

The generation who sees no distinction between the online and offline world, the generation who grew up with a mini computer in their backpack or pocket.

I know we’ll always need insurance, that will not change. 

Kind of like the need for transportation. There were coaches available for hire in 1605. The need to hire transportation is always going to be there. 

Did taxi companies care about the user experience? No. 

We got into smelly, dirty cabs that were difficult to hail and even harder to pay if you didn’t have cash, and forget change for larger bills. Taxi companies accepted this, because they could. Because we would always need transportation. 

Sadly for the drivers, taxi companies have learned there will always be innovators who come along and look to create a better customer experience. The need for transportation didn’t go away, yet we don’t take cabs anymore. 

We use an app on our phone that tells me my driver’s rating, allows me to order a car without waving my hands in the air, and pay without thinking about it. Innovation for easy, seamless customer experiences is inevitable for every industry. I look forward to insurance catching up to that realization.

Don't Get Caught in this Easily Avoidable Issue

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