Back in November 2020, IVANS announced that Reid Holzworth was the new CEO. Now that he’s been at the helm for over 100 days, we thought it would be a good time to hear from him about what’s holding back the industry and how we move it forward for the benefit of all stakeholders.
What have you learned in your first 100 days as IVANS’ CEO?
Reid Holzworth: I’ve been working with the IVANS team, who are truly amazing. The work they have accomplished over the past 35+ years to connect the industry is incredible. I’ve also met many clients and partners and I am thrilled to see their commitment to growing connectivity within the industry.
However, the industry has a lot of work to do. If we want to solve this connectivity issue, and it's really is an issue, we all must get on board, and we all have to see the advantage of it. Not focusing on digital as if it's a cost that can be avoided comes at a cost. As does ignoring customer demands, because your competitors are listening to their customers and addressing their needs and expectations. It needs to be looked at as an insurance policy rather than something you can avoid.
The insurance industry is struggling with the same issues across the distribution channel. It's all of us, we're all in this network we call insurance. We all want greater connectivity that technology allows yet we are still trying to avoid it.
So what are the things that people want, whether it's the small mainstream agency or very large carrier?
Reid: It’s simple, it’s straight-through processing. Look at us in our daily lives. If I want to see who is at my front door, I have an app so when somebody rings my doorbell, it's popping up. I'm controlling the music playing in my house, and in each room, from my phone. These are all digital, real-time CONNECTED technologies we use every day. Now think about insurance. From the data capture, all the way to the submission and back, are we modern software companies? No, we are not.
To share a personal experience, I've been working on my homeowner's insurance for practically a month. There’s so much back-and-forth. It is literally a rewrite, which should be done with a click of a button. The carrier's great and they have great products, but the customer experience is so bad that it's holding back the industry.
So that is the carrier, what about the agent?
Reid: I posted an article on LinkedIn and a guy reached out. He said, “Hey Reid, great stuff. Do you think that these carriers that have come out and built these digital solutions seem more like carriers that have our best needs at bay? Are they really for the agent? Do they really care about their customers?” He said he wants to see carriers use technology that is impactful to their relationships with their agents – who are still their largest distribution channel.
Where is this agent’s loyalty? You [the carrier] want to talk about your great relationships with agents, why? Because you have the best profit-sharing plan? Today, it's about digital connectivity that’s easing his customers’ lives. Like me, as the insured in this case, all the back-and-forth that I have to go through, I don't have time for that.
So what has this taught you?
Reid: We have such an opportunity to solve so many of these problems. And they are problems, they're not nice-to-haves, they are true problems.
But we don't solve them. Why is that? Is it because we don't want to spend the money? What do we want to spend our money on if we're not spending it on the future? Are we spending it on boat trips for agents? If so, why? Agents don't care about boat trips; they care about making money.
I hate seeing carriers not invest in the future because they think their relationships are so solid. But what about the next generation that's taking over the business? Specifically, Gen Z who you have no control over and don’t have a relationship with?
What younger agents care about is making a legacy for themselves. How are they going to do that? They're going to invest in technology, double down, triple down, quadruple down. These younger generation agents will invest in it, and if you're not part of that, they will pass you by because that relationship doesn't exist anymore.
Young people are coming into this industry. They want something new and innovative. They just have that mindset.
Where do you see carriers adopting technology?
Reid: They invest in core systems. And I get it. So now you're on a more modern infrastructure but then what? The back of their core systems is still legacy, but they're adding in all of these little startups to the front-end to make themselves look digital. Some of it is kind of cool, but where's the real value?
What they’re not doing is connecting. It’s all about connectivity – all the survey data from agencies says connectivity is what they want from their markets. If we get connectivity in this industry running through a single pipe, the automation, the analytics, everything that we can do, it will be absolutely amazing, and everybody benefits.
And this is not being self-serving, I truly believe IVANS can solve a lot of this if carriers leverage our services. I really believe that, that's why I’m here. The reason why this is so exciting to me is because of the opportunity of what it can do to the insurance industry.
Invest in the future; it's that simple. Understand what's available around you and start to connect. Keep connecting and get smarter about connecting.
How does the technology at your business measure up? Are you meeting the service expectations of your agency partners and policyholders? Find out how digital your business is with our Digital Insurer Scorecard and discover important strategies to help you become a digital insurer.