Take Note: 3 Things Agents and Brokers Must be Mindful of in 2020 and Beyond
ACN Updates | Christine Horne, Bankers Insurance LLC | Jan 28 2020
How cool is it to be the first chair of a new decade … and one dubbed the “roaring ‘20s” to boot? That really fits my personality and style.
I tend to look for opportunities to start over, regroup and move forward in pretty much everything I do. A lot of times, that desire to grow, change and evolve starts with questions of “why” and “what if.” The people I work with closely both at my agency and through various Applied Client Network (ACN) committees or the Board of Directors are pretty used to hearing me ask questions like “Why are we doing it that way?” or “What if we tried this?” And, I don’t see that changing this year as I move into my new role as Chair of ACN. To be fair, I not only have the privilege of being the first chair of this new decade, but I have the great fortune to be a chair that follows some incredible leaders.
As we all know, the past few years have been ones of great change and growth for our organization — better and more education at Applied Net, a brand-new learning management system as part of the Advantage Membership, and the list goes on. I’ve been lucky to be entrusted to nurture and continue the progress that previous chairs and Board members have made. I am deeply appreciative of that trust and will keep asking “why” and “what if.”
Speaking of, for those of you who read the 2019 Connections Magazine, you may have noticed my profile in which I shared my take on three key disruptors affecting the insurance industry. Today, I’d like to expand on these and share what makes them significant and how ACN fits in.
Battle for Data
I’ve heard and read many times over that “data is the new oil of the digital economy.” As we are all continuously moving further into the digital age of insurance, it’s clear that data plays a tremendous role in this next phase. There’s an incredible amount of data produced just within our industry, and harnessing that data — using it to drive insight into underwriting, risk, client needs/behaviors and even predicting loss — will be a huge differentiator for the industry.
Carriers are using it, new entrants are using it, and we agents and brokers should be using it, too. Data can drive sales and retention, and it can also create risk in and of itself. What’s the “battle for data”? It’s the drive to be the first to capture it and harness it; however, if you look at that coin from a slightly different perspective, it’s also the question of who owns the data: Is it the agencies and brokerages or carriers? What about the consumer? Is data created that pertains to them their data? And what about a consumer’s right to privacy? CASL in Canada, GDPR in Europe, CCPA in California and several other laws passed by various government entities say that data is the consumer’s and their right to privacy supersedes everything.
So … how do we as agents and brokers protect the data we have and comply in a changing landscape? That is the question.
Internet of Things
This is one of my favorite topics right now. Maybe it’s because my dear spouse knows and understands my love of gadgets and technology (and even gifted me with an internet-connected robot vacuum for Christmas — now I can vacuum my house anytime from anywhere!) But seriously, vacuums, thermostats, door locks, door bells, water heaters … the list is becoming longer than I can keep up with. How are some of these new consumer devices making life easier while at the same time helping to mitigate risk? An internet-connected water heater, for example, could alert you that you have a leak and spark a potential claim before it turns into a devastating claim. What about a thermostat that could alert you when the temperature in your home drops to a level that your pipes are in danger of freezing? Or, a connected car in your fleet that can show you drivers who struggle to focus on driving due to other distractions in the vehicle?
With the right Internet of Things (IoT) devices, there’s a huge potential to decrease risk and control loss … and that’s great for everybody. The potential benefits are becoming so much clearer, and I think our industry is definitely coming to a place where we are starting to understand IoT better and embrace it. I see the IoT becoming instrumental in insurance over time. It’s going to be one of those “how did we live without this?” things in insurance, just as my robot vacuum is to me in my personal life.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are going to be critical both to carriers and to the Independent Agent — and broker — channel. A great example of where we are seeing the benefit of these technologies, and will likely see even more, is in claims. Reducing fraud and speeding the time to settle a claim, as well as improving loss ratios, are all possible outcomes of applying AI and ML in claims. Obviously, all three reduce the cost of claims and allow adjustors to focus more on complex claims. What’s more, reduced fraud and quicker settlements are also good for the insured, in terms of pricing and satisfaction.
In an environment where we are seeing industry disruptors promise insureds claims that are settled and paid in three minutes, thus increasing the “instant everything” effect on our clients, improvements to the claims process via AI and ML has a positive cumulative effect on independent agents and brokers. As I’ve said in the past with regard to those players and us industry vets: We understand that insurance isn’t a commodity and that three minutes to settle a claim may look and sound good on a website but, in reality, may leave the insured not fully recovered from a loss.
For some fantastic perspective on that, check out this article about how my team realizes that insurance pays. For information on our #insurancepays movement, click here.
Leading through ACN
As we reflect on disruptors, I cannot help but be reminded that the annual ACN Leadership Academy is coming up. Chapters are the lifeblood of ACN and there is no better event to help raise up our chapter leaders, new and old, than during Leadership Academy. This year, the program is jam-packed with inspiring keynotes, education, networking and activities. I personally get a lot of “Aha!” moments whenever I attend, and am looking forward to more of that this year. I am especially excited that David Dickson, of Indio Technologies, and Michael Howe will be there. Applied Systems’ recent acquisition of the software continue to create a lot of buzz in the industry and I am eager to hear the direction David sees Indio taking and hope to continue the momentum of what he shares into education and resources for all members. That alone is yet another great example of the value of ACN and the strength of the partnership we have with Applied.
Here’s to 2020 and beyond!
Christine Horne is vice president of system support at Bankers Insurance, LLC and the current Chair of Applied Client Network’s Board of Directors.
Tags: Insurance , ACN Updates , Trends , Membership , volunteering , InsurTech