It’s been extremely gratifying over the last couple of weeks to hear so many customers call our recent Tenth Annual Conference “the best one yet.” I’ll admit, I have to agree. And that admission is much less boastful than it sounds. The conference’s success reaches far beyond Agencyport’s role. What put the event over the top was the dynamic, multi-directional idea-sharing and learning among its attendees—our carriers, prospects, partners and user communities. It was the most energetic I have experienced at an AP conference–everyone eager to learn from everyone else.
Over the course of two and half days, there were a number of themes that emerged. Some we expected (and even planned), and others we did not. Here is a tasting:
- People no longer need to be convinced that disruptive change is coming to the Insurance Industry. It’s here. Now. Rather than speculating about whether it is coming, or even when, carriers are figuring out how to either compete with the change or participate in it.
- Newer dilemmas join not-so-new ones:
– The delicate trend of direct-to-consumer… Everyone acknowledged the consumer demand—both in personal and small commercial, and to some degree, even mid- to large-sized commercial risks—and the varying degree to which insureds want agents involved in purchasing and servicing. The consistent new reality? Consumers want to interact with carriers and agents on their terms. While agents’ perspectives on direct to consumer run a broad spectrum from denial to whole-hearted embrace, agents’ at our conference indicated that they just want to be informed (in real time) by the carrier—not just so they have the opportunity to up-sell (a win-win, by the way), but also so that they can meet their fiduciary obligations to their insureds. This increasingly complex relationship fully supports the digital omni-channel vision we have been discussing with our customers.
– Though not new, the tradeoffs between sticking with industry-standard fields versus asking carrier-specific questions during the application process remains a debate and challenge. Clearly, asking strictly “standard” questions makes carrier participation in third-party solutions such as comparative raters, Google Compare, compare.com and other marketplaces much easier—a clear advantage. But how do carriers weigh that against the potential risk of losing the “Secret Sauce” to your underwriting and profitability, namely carrier-specific questions?
- At a time when very little about the future of P&C Insurance seems certain—whether the quickly evolving hardware and software technologies and consumer buying trends or carrier and agency business models, weather patterns, and M&A trends—more and more of our customers and partners are seeing the value of collaboration. The fear of disclosing secret sauces is fast giving way to the benefits of story-, challenge-, solution- and idea-sharing. Group problem-solving is being seen less as an agent of competitive erosion and more as a necessity for ongoing industry strength.
Thanks, once again, to our Conference sponsors: Ivans, Lexis/Nexis, Silanis, Valen Analytics, Capgemini, E2Value, Accenture Duck Creek and Guidewire, without whom ours would be just another conference. And, of course, our amazing customers, without whom we wouldn’t exist. We look forward to many more years of bright, exciting problem-solving and market shattering solutions.