Coronavirus is forcing the insurance industry to embrace digitization
It’s no secret that for years the insurance industry has lagged behind other industries when it comes to digital transformation. Only five years ago McKinsey ranked healthcare near the bottom in their Industry Digitization Index. Since 2015, major players in the healthcare and insurance industries have worked to improve their digitization efforts but still remained woefully behind.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
The current crisis is rapidly highlighting just how well previous efforts to digitize were going. Companies who had already embraced a culture of digital innovation and had begun exploring, if not implementing, technology have already proven more successful during this sudden and dramatic shift.
It’s unclear how fully the crisis will impact our health, our economy and how we perform day-to-day tasks. Insurance industry stakeholders will need to implement new technologies and accelerate plans to digitize to keep operations running smoothly through the crisis and prepare for doing business in a post-COVID-19 world.
The insurance industry has taken several steps to digitize their operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Client and prospect meetings are now held online.
While the industry has made the move to digitize, the value proposition for clients remains the same. They want a trusted adviser to offer security during this uncertain time. Clients are looking for someone to provide them with the resources they need to protect their employees, families and business.
The challenge for brokers will be maintaining the client relationships that are critical for doing their jobs, while also offering digital services to encourage social distancing. Many agencies differentiate themselves with strong customer service, often through on-site and in-person meetings, and will need to learn how to translate that service over digital channels.
Some of the ways insurance agents are successfully working with clients remotely include:
- Offering to hold quick phone calls — or even better, video calls — with clients to talk through any concerns
- Sharing weekly updates explaining how new regulations might impact clients
- Hosting webinars and Q&A sessions to discuss updates and community best practices for both the employer as well as the employee and their dependents
Clients and prospective clients likely have more time now to learn about how they can improve their business operations, but they need help. If insurance agents can find new ways to serve clients during this time, clients will see why the relationship is so valuable.
Digital tools are not optional, but the standard
If it wasn’t clear before, it will certainly be clear now that consumers not only prefer, but expect, digital solutions. Now that virtually the entire country has experienced some form of shelter-in-place, insurance agents have been forced to find digital methods for conducting business. Even when restrictions are lifted, many consumers will remain wary of unnecessary face-to-face meetings for the foreseeable future.
Some of the tools you can use to serve clients digitally include:
- Secure messaging and video conference applications
- Self-service portals for both agents and clients
- Mobile apps for client services and claims
- Fast, responsive customer support available through multiple channels, including call centers, email and chatbots
Cybersecurity remains a top priority
Part of the resistance to digitize healthcare has centered on concerns about patient privacy. The rapid and unplanned shift to moving insurance operations to almost entirely digital has naturally garnered well-founded concerns about cybersecurity.
Insurance agencies and TPAs need to be concerned about protecting both their customers’ personal data as well as their own internal data. This will require vetting software to ensure the utmost adherence to security protocols as well as fully utilizing security features like encryption, password protection, two-step verification and more.
Future digitization plans have been fast-tracked
Virtually every business is now looking at a different plan for 2020. Some projects may be scrapped entirely, while others will become top priorities.
While companies have been making drastic changes to adapt in the short-term, leaders need to also consider their mid- and long-term plans. What tools do you need to continue doing business and serving your clients? How are you prepared for an economic recession? What projects can you fast-track to help your business adapt to consumer needs?
One unexpected benefit that could come out of the crisis is that the insurance industry will come out of this in a better position to serve customers — especially when they need it most.