As a lover of all things tech, it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that I also love science. Recently, while thinking about the future of the insurance industry, I was taken back to something I first learned about in my sixth grade science class, which is the concept of mutualism.
Do you remember mutualism, a type of symbiosis? If not, a mutualistic relationship is when two different species “work together” and each benefits from the relationship. One example of a mutualistic relationship is that of the oxpecker (a kind of bird) and a hippo, zebra or giraffe.
Watch this short clip from Richard Attenborough’s BBC nature series to see mutualism in action:
The concept of mutualism is being embraced by some of the world’s most successful companies. In fact, perceptive leaders at P&G, Nestlé and GE Digital have all recognized that mutuality and interdependence with partners fuels growth.
So how does mutualism apply to the independent insurance channel?
While huge efficiencies have been gained by insurers and independent agents who are using digital technology for internal process automation, this alone is simply not enough to grow and thrive. We live in digitally driven, hyper-connected times. Thus, it is critical for agents and insurers to extend their use of technology beyond their own offices and form an interconnected insurance ecosystem whereby everyone involved – agents, insurers, MGAs, wholesalers and ultimately insureds – wins.
There’s that concept of mutualism. By connecting through digital technology, agents and insurers work better together and mutually benefit. Digitally connected agents and insurers can exchange accurate data for quoting, market identification, underwriting, billing and customer service via download, real-time and market search tools. This allows agents to work more efficiently with insurers to provide access to advice, product range, insurer choice and localized personal service. Ultimately, it builds better, mutually beneficial relationships between agents and insurers, which increases the value of their service to insureds and to each other.
Of course delivering superior customer service has never been more crucial. According to Accenture, “In the ‘Age of the Customer,’ in which technology and economic forces have put customers in control of their interactions with businesses, companies are actively working to transform their organization, processes, and technology in pursuit of a more effective digital business and a more satisfying customer experience. While companies have made good progress, especially over the last five years, they still have a lot of room for continued development of their digital capabilities.”
As key business partners in the insurance lifecycle, agents and insurers have an irrefutable interdependence on one another and therefore have a stake in each other’s success. To fully capitalize on this mutualism and fuel growth, agents and insurers must increase their connectivity by using automated data exchange technologies such as download, real-time and market search tools. In doing so together, they are both positioned to experience higher profits, greater efficiencies, reduced expenses, faster service and stronger business relationships.