Repetitio mater studiorum est
The state of the world today seems to reaffirm the old saying that online-first companies are in a better position to continue their operations when the rest of the world comes to a standstill.
If the current coronavirus situation has taught us anything it’s that e-commerce is not a nicety, but an engine of resilience.
This view is far from being universally accepted in the insurance industry, which may result in dire consequences for many of the industry players. Let’s look at an example:
The high street broker will be locking up their shop and working from home soon, but the consumer still needs to buy cover for their business.
The high fatality risk group in this case are not necessarily the brokers who can switch to video calls in favor of a face to face meeting and prefer markets who provide them with a fast quote online; but rather some of their less digitally capable markets.
Most vulnerable are the MGAs and wholesale intermediaries who have so far relied on handling quote submissions and policy production the good-old-fashioned way: using email, spreadsheets, document templates and software installed locally. Unfortunately it’s also these companies who will be most disrupted by having to shut down their physical locations since they are less likely to have supported remote working and lack the infrastructure to do it.
Solutions? Solutions? Solutions?
COVID-19 is not the first global disruptor, nor will it be the last. If it took a worldwide crisis to make the last players in the insurance industry realize the need to become more digital then there is at least a silver lining (although slim), but as anyone who has gone through this process knows: becoming digital is not possible overnight if you are no longer a startup, but an established business with a decent portfolio.
That’s why the reasonable course of action depends on where your business is right now…
Quick mental checklist to setting up remote work for your MGA
- Are all your team’s emails in the cloud? If NO and your people are still storing emails in their local outlook/other email client, make the change ASAP
- Do you keep client folders stored on local devices? If YES, find an online storage solution ASAP (e.g MS Sharepoint, Google Drive, Dropbox etc.)
- Can you send your invoicing and statements remotely? If NO, consider adopting a web-based accounting software like Xero, Quickbooks, etc.
- Do you have an online tool for internal chat/video calls with client? If NO, consider getting one. There are a plethora of options like Slack, MS Teams, Skype, Zoom etc. Also consider getting your team members a headset for remote calls, as they do make life easier and inexpensive options can be found online.
- Are you bound by landline phones? If YES then consider forwarding to mobile or use a VOIP platform which allows the use of landline phone numbers from your teams laptops.
As a combined solution to the first 3 above, consider adopting a cloud-based policy admin system available on a free trial. You can sign up for the Insly broker system and get your own account in 2 minutes: signup.insly.com
Think Long term
If the above suggestions sound rather basic, congratulations – your company is less likely to be in the high fatality rate cohort, but that does not mean a critical review of your operations is not needed.
It may be too late to prepare for this crisis.
However, now that things are at a standstill it’s a good moment to take the first steps towards building a more resilient future for your insurance operation.
If you have been thinking of automating your sales process (or a part of it), making your products available to brokers and customers online, having the ability to change your rates on the go, create insurer BDX and other reports yourself, then now is a great time to engage companies who offer digital solutions (see also Our list of MGA Software Providers) or offer their years of experience on choosing the right set of tools (Why MGAs Should Consider IT Consultants)
You have a product you would like to take to market quickly or an idea how to make your processes more efficient? Just get in touch and we’re happy to see how we can help.
*Herd immunity (also called herd effect, community immunity, population immunity, or social immunity) is a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that occurs when a large percentage of a population has become immune to an infection, whether through infection or vaccination, thereby providing a measure of protection for individuals who are not immune – Wikipedia
Insly makes its humble contributions towards a more digital and interconnected insurance industry, where the use of smart technology gives protection against BI risks such as forced closure of physical offices. If all insurers, MGAs and brokers were connected to each other and their customers digitally they would become “immune” to such risks.