Digital connectivity increasingly drives the bottom line and profitability throughout the insurance lifecycle. Encova VP James Sullivan and Coverlink President Matt Simon joined me virtually on a webinar to NAMIC members last fall for a conversation about why insurance professionals need to embrace technology to continue to succeed.
Here’s what James and Matt had to say during our insightful conversation.
What drives value around digital?
Matt: An agency like mine is looking for two things: how do we retain clients better and how do we position ourselves to win more business. The digital mindset underpins how we’re able to do that.
We have access to so much data now as a digital agency, but that data is very siloed. We have to position ourselves to provide a better customer experience. One of the ways we do that is better connecting to our insurer partners’ data so we have a more holistic view, which empowers us to retain our customers. We need to make working with our agency easier than any other option our customers have. We also need to partner with insurers who understand that value proposition.
“We recognize that what has kept us around for 100 years is not going to get us through the next 100.”
Do you think this applies to both small commercial and medium/large?
Matt: Yes. As insurers have more sophisticated underwriting systems, we as an agency have got to be able to connect more seamlessly to them. We need to be able to adapt and have digital connectivity to be able to pass information back and forth more than we have in the past.
The value proposition is not how we enter the information. We differentiate ourselves on the advice we provide our clients. We need to think about how to streamline our processes so that we have more time to provide value to our clients. The more time we spend entering data multiple times, the less time we will have to do that.
James: That is spot on. Our primary customer is our agencies. It’s all about making it easy for them to do business. Prefilling data, making it more personalized for agencies with defaulting coverages and doing things the way they want. Technology is the big enabler to bring these things to life.This includes a digital payment solution, eSignatures, and going paperless. We have also used IVANS Download for many years and continue to expand those services.
“Technology is the enabler, but you have to keep in mind that traditional journeys are different than digital journeys. You can’t just keep the traditional journey and put tech on top of it.”
Do you feel like those who don’t invest in technology will be left behind?
James: Yes. That’s the future of where the industry is going. We need to be using technology to be a leader and bring the best customer experience. It’s about making it easier for agents to quote business and to service their policyholders.
Matt: Absolutely. My goal is to get all of our staff to where they don’t have to enter any data and they can focus on advising clients on coverage, limits and whatever is going on in their industry. I believe that if insurers fail to recognize the value and invest in technology, they will be left behind.
What are your thoughts on APIs?
James: It has to be a two-way street to send and receive. I think it will be the future of transferring data back and forth. It is a great example of what APIs can do for us.
If APIs are implemented well with solid standards and a strategy behind them, they can dramatically speed up integrations.Matt: It is a slow process, policy by policy. So many pipes need to be built. I do think it’s the future of where we’re going.
“We have to look at insurers and agencies that have been traditional. There is still a lot of value in traditional, but if they are not marrying that with digital capabilities, I do think they will be left behind.”
Next Steps to Digital
Both James and Matt agree that steps are needed to embrace technology, including:
Focus on what differentiates you.
Dig into data that helps enable digital connectivity.
Purge paper and trade data entry for a customer focus.
Think about the customer journey to solve pain points.
Here to Help
IVANS is here to help you plug into the technology that will help you connect better to each other and open the door to new revenue without letting complexity in behind it. Find more agency-insurer insights to help inform your business decisions in our 2021 IVANS Connectivity Report.