Automation | Read Time: 6 Minutes

Your Insurance Customers Are More Tech-Savvy Than You Think

July 20, 2018

Mike Furlong. By: Mike Furlong

Many insurance agents assume that their business clients are “old-school.” The majority of business owners are in their 50s, so it’s easy to conclude that they’re more comfortable with paper than digital applications.

But this completely misses who these people are. The kind of person who chooses business ownership over traditional employment is an innovator. They’re as much entrepreneurs as a Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, and are often just as comfortable using technology.

Business owners are not just tech-savvy, they expect the people they do business with to be tech-savvy too — and if you disappoint them in this, they’ll seek out other agents who meet those expectations.

The entrepreneurial mindset

Do entrepreneurs really think differently from non-entrepreneurs? One study at Harvard found that brain activity during decision-making was significantly different for a group of entrepreneurs compared to the control group — the entrepreneurs thought faster, came to decisions more quickly, and were “more inclined to quickly grasp an opportunity.”

Most studies of entrepreneurs and business owners have found that they are quick to adopt technology to enhance both their business and personal lives. For example:

  • A 2016 SMB owner survey by Babson University, which found that 78% of respondents “consider technology, including keeping up with new technology, to be ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ important to the growth of their businesses.”
  • Another study, by Experian, found that “Small-business owners are at least 30 % more interested in using their PC and/or being online than the general U.S. population.”
  • Social Media Examiner’s seventh annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report reported that 96% of the survey’s participants use social media marketing, showing that SMB owners fully embrace the power of the Internet.

Entrepreneurs and other business owners are constantly looking for ways to improve things rather than accept the status quo. Someone who’s built a business from scratch has learned to use all available resources to overcome challenges and has likely become quite comfortable with digital solutions.

And given the entrepreneurial focus on getting things done fast, it’s not surprising that business owners embrace technology as a powerful time-management tool.

Saving time is saving money

Technology can be a powerful way to eliminate data entry and other basic tasks — an extremely important benefit for chronically time-crunched business owners. Entrepreneurs are particularly conscious of the value of time and greatly appreciate anything that will help them speed up basic tasks or do away with such tasks altogether.

Accounting automation is one example of how technology has helped many business owners save time on basic tasks, and it has been a growing trend for all businesses; in 2017, 37% of accounting software purchases were made by first-time purchasers of such software.

Business owners are embracing accounting automation for many reasons, including:

  1. Reduced need for data entry: Business owners who had previously toiled over Excel spreadsheets and spent hours on data entry are now able to use QuickBooks or a similar product to manage their books with a few clicks of a mouse. For example, QuickBooks can automatically import bank and credit card transactions by downloading this data directly from the bank’s website.
  2. Less chance for user error: The more a business automates tasks like accounting, the less opportunity there is for small errors (or not-so-small errors) to creep in and skew the results. Or, as computer programmers are fond of putting it, “garbage in, garbage out.”
  3. Scalability: Accounting programs like QuickBooks make it relatively easy for businesses to add new products, vendors, and customers. Trying to scale up an Excel spreadsheet-based bookkeeping system is a nightmare by comparison.
  4. Accessibility: It’s easy for multiple people to use a modern software-based accounting system, particularly one in the cloud. That means business owners can assign different employers to manage accounting tasks or even outsource such tasks to a third party, while still keeping control of and access to their books.

And accounting is just one field in which business owners are happily turning to high-tech solutions. They certainly expect the insurance industry to keep up with these automation trends, given the obvious benefits.

How clients see the insurance renewal process

These entrepreneurial attitudes about saving time and using technology to handle simple tasks will most definitely come into play with regards to purchasing and managing their insurance policies. It’s particularly important to consider how your clients view your insurance renewal process, since that’s a time when it’s natural for them to consider shifting to a different insurance agency.

Consider the following two scenarios and how the typical client would feel about each one.

The PDF insurance renewal process

Let’s say that your typical client needs three to five policies and they come up for renewal every year. Several of those will require multiple quotes from different carriers, which means you’re looking at having your client fill out at least five to ten applications each year just to find the best coverage package. And that’s on the low end.

If you handle this process through Excel spreadsheets, PDF forms, and email, your average client is probably spending several hours doing insurance paperwork, some of which involves providing the exact same information on multiple forms (and often filling out nearly identical forms year after year). Once she’s filled out and returned all those forms, you then have to review said forms and get back to the client with any questions or comments – which means that she’ll probably have to spend yet more time either fixing errors or clarifying her answers.

From this perspective, you can see why your clients would look upon the insurance renewal process as a huge waste of their valuable time.

The automated insurance renewal process

Compare the classic renewal process to a process that incorporates automation. For example, Indio has digitized over 2,000 different insurance forms into a single online platform.

Indio Application Database

Your client can log into the platform and fill out the forms that you’ve selected. The form fields are mapped so that as your client enters her information, it’s duplicated across other forms that ask the same questions – ensuring that your client will only need to answer any given question once. The platform also checks for required answers, making it less likely that the client will leave out some crucial piece of information and have to come back to the same form again. And at renewal time the client’s information from the previous year is retained in this online system, so she can simply check over each form and correct anything that’s changed since last time.

Such a process is well within the technological comfort zone of your average business owner, and its advantages over the traditional paper application process will be perfectly clear to her.

Automated insurance applications are the wave of the future

Moving to a digital application process won’t just help you and your agency — it more will, more importantly, save your clients a huge amount of time, making automation a tremendous customer attraction and retention tool. By adopting such a process, you show your clients that you respect their time. Once their data is on the online platform, your clients will know that going to another agency will mean starting from scratch, which can be a compelling motivator for them to stick with you. Finally, owners are likely to view your agency as being a tech adopter (just like them), unlike “dinosaur” agencies – such as your competitors.

Mike Furlong.

Mike Furlong

Mike Furlong is the CEO of Indio Technologies. Mike started Indio with the vision of modernizing and digitizing the insurance application process for insurance brokers and their customers. The vision stemmed from his own painful and confusing experiences of applying for commercial insurance in the past. While many insurtech companies set out to displace the broker or reinvent the existing value chain, Indio became committed to empowering the existing channel with software. Today, Indio has grown into the leading customer engagement platform utilized by insurance brokers.