Welcome new technologies! And bye-bye brokers?
It is the greatest pleasure of consultants to announce dramatic revolutions and – yes! – disruptions in all kinds of industries. Or at least describe them after they happened.
I know, I am one.
I just found it in a presentation I made in 2000 for one of my insurance clients. At that time it was a thing called WAP that was going to ‘fossilize’ the insurance industry. Everyone was sure it was only a matter of years before agents and brokers would be gone forever. Remember WAP? You could do a long bike tour while the pages were loading, that’s how slow it was.
But it’s 2020 today...
…and brokers are stronger than ever. So what happened? How come they are still in the game?
Last year, I interviewed two heavyweights of the Belgian insurance industry, Walter Van Pottelberge and Willy Duron. It was greatly refreshing to hear that they put the hypes of the moment into perspective. When I asked them about the strong position of the brokers, their answer was astonishingly simple: “Insurance is a people’s business. Insurers and brokers sell trust, which is not so easily done by machines.” Spot on. Insurances are a complex matter, which, to say the least, do not really interest lots of people. But as they are of vital importance, these people turn towards a party that knows and loves the matter and embodies that trust they are looking for.
Moreover, brokers are entrepreneurs, typically turning challenges and threats into opportunities. New technologies? Bring them on! Because they can help brokers solve the issues they have been facing for decades:
- Too much time spent on administration, too little on new business and serving customers.
- Too much paper, way too much paper!
- Too few interactions with customers, too little knowledge about their ever-changing needs, and the exact timing these are acute.
- Many solutions on the market, but lack of integration and real alignment with broker needs.
- Double, triple, quadruple, … registration of data.
- Broken processes, lack of workflow, action statuses unknown.
- Hard to catch up with increasing regulation.
And now with new technologies arising, everyone is sure that they are going to completely disrupt an old-fashioned and conservative industry like insurance. But is it true that for instance its classical brick channels will be wiped away? Let’s see.
The brokers’ ecosystem
Professional brokers will embrace new technologies to overcome these issues. Even better, by turning their classical Broker Management System (BMS) into a platform integrating value-added insurtech solutions, they may very well become the center of an ecosystem around the protection of people and their belongings.
Think about a customer indicating via a portal that he has made changes to his home, and getting the automatic notification that his current insurance policy does not provide a 100% cover anymore. Via the same portal, he gets in touch with his broker, who connects to a tarification engine comparing different insurance products from different companies. Whether it is best to extend the customer’s current policy or subscribe to an entirely new one, the broker checks the different offers and pushes the most relevant ones to the customer portal. The customer digitally signs the offer which suits him best and pushes back to the broker, who forwards to the applicable insurance company. Once arrived in his system, the broker checks the policy and notifies the customer, who can consult his new policy via the portal. At each moment in the entire process, both broker and customer are notified of its status.
Do you get the picture? Do you see how the broker adds the necessary trust to a process that theoretically could be done without him? And how he serves his customer better than ever before, helped by technology?
So indeed: welcome new technologies! But dear brokers, maybe stay just a little bit longer…