Industry the March 2024 issue

Combining the Old and the New for Success

The industry must apply the latest technologies but without forgetting tried-and-true practices.
By Ken Crerar Posted on March 1, 2024

This long-standing event is an opportunity for our members to connect with and educate the senators and representatives who are making crucial decisions related to commercial insurance. (Fewer than 7% of these lawmakers have worked in the insurance industry.)

The Legislative Summit also gives us the opportunity each year to hear directly from members of Congress on their priorities. This year I was struck by comments from several legislators on the societal threats posed by social media, such as threats to our children’s mental and physical health as well as the increased polarization of thought that is reinforced via social media feeds.

That got me thinking. As our industry continues to evolve its use of technology, how will we ensure we aren’t doing more harm than good?

During the pandemic, the internet was a lifeline for many. I’ll never forget that first Teams meeting as I looked at my screen crowded with the faces of my staff, each in their own little corner of the world, but still there, all of us together. It made me feel good, safe and where I was supposed to be.

We also connected with The Council’s members through the internet, hosting regular webinars and Zoom calls to ensure they had the most up-to-date information from Capitol Hill.

Trust is crucial for our business, but what if the business moves to a platform that is considerably mistrusted?

The brokerage industry transitioned seemingly overnight into a flexible, digital-friendly sector that found ways to serve clients remotely without damaging crucial relationships built over many hours of travel and face-to-face meetings. Nascent digital initiatives were propelled into overdrive as client portals and digital policy workflows sprang up all over the place.

And it worked. We’ve created an entirely new environment where insurance distribution technology is at the forefront of leaders’ minds. In fact, according to “The US Insurance Distribution Technology Market: Analysis By Function, By Application, By Technology Type, By End-User Size & Trends with Impact of COVID-19 and Forecast up to 2028,” “The US insurance distribution market is expected to grow at a CAGR [compound annual growth rate] of 7.87%. Whereas, the US insurance distribution technology market would grow at a CAGR of 15.91% during the forecast period of 2023-2028.”

That report lists current trends in insurance distribution technology including increasing use of social media as a distribution channel, escalating demand for digital self-service, collaboration with Big Tech and surging popularity of virtual insurance advisors.

But at the same time, according to the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer, “A battle for truth” is one of four forces that lead to polarization. “A shared media environment has given way to echo chambers, making it harder to collaboratively solve problems. Media is not trusted, with especially low trust in social media,” the report states.

However, simply staying off social media is no longer an option for insurance businesses. Even six years ago—effectively a lifetime in technology years—social media was a recognized resource for augmenting a business’s brand, building relationships, and identifying new leads, PropertyCasualty360 reported at the time.

“Of all businesses engaging in social marketing, 45% report that it has decreased their lead generation costs and 24% of them say that their revenue has increased specifically from using social media for this purpose,” according to a January 2018 article.

So now what? Trust is crucial for our business, but what if the business moves to a platform that is considerably mistrusted? Of course, we want to meet millennials and Gen Z clients where they are, even if that is social media. But can we provide efficiencies and digitization while maintaining the trust and the foundational relationships on which the business was built? Would the conversation be different if every so often you still show up at your client’s door?

I know I sound like some old thing. And I know in recent months I have loudly touted the benefits of adopting generative AI in our industry. But I’m not contradicting myself here. Make no mistake: tech-based solutions are the future. But they must be built on a solid foundation. And I believe that somewhere along the way in the nurturing and development of that foundation, you must build trust by showing up, getting out of your comfort zone, off the screen, and in front of people.

Ken Crerar CEO, The Council Read More

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