Best's Review



Next Wave
A Better Experience

Insurtech firms are attempting to serve customers in ways they want to be served. Traditional carriers need to use their insurance expertise to outdo the insurtechs in customer experience.
  • Carly Burnham
  • August 2018
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Carly Burnham

Carly Burnham

I would argue that traditional carriers need to use the expertise they have in insurance to sprint ahead of insurtech firms in the customer experience arena.

An agent I follow on social media wrote recently that customers don't want an “insurance expert.” They want someone who understands the work they do. They want to know that their agent can talk about the work they're doing in their shop and who will look at home, not uncomfortable, when they visit.

Of course, the unwritten part of his post is that they still need an insurance expert. Agents must know coverage issues and policy language like the back of their hands. Good agents will be insurance experts who can synthesize the policy information in a way that his or her customers understand and appreciate because the agent understands and appreciates the work that his or her customers do.

This is how you create a strong customer experience and strengthen your relationships. Those of us who work for carriers would do well to adopt this mindset, as well.

If you're an underwriter, how well do you understand what the agents you serve are dealing with on a day-to-day basis? Understanding your appetite, your products, and your options for pricing are basic musts to do your job.

The ability to share this information in a way that helps your agents sell to more customers is what will make you outstanding. To do this, you need to get closer to both your agents and your carrier's customers. You need to imagine a day in the life and think about how the products you have can meaningfully impact them.

If you're in claims, you must understand the policy coverage and language and apply it consistently. But if you want to give an outstanding experience that will reinforce the promise the carrier you represent made, be comfortable with your customers, understand the impact that your processes and handling have on them and their operations.

From a broader perspective, carriers are starting to be impacted by the customer experiences that insurtech firms are creating. These firms have come in with a Silicon Valley mindset and have spent a lot of money on user experience design. They are thinking about how a customer will feel when they interact with their website. They are considering how policy language could be made more customer friendly, and attempting to serve customers in the ways that they want to be served.

Traditional carriers are taking steps in this direction, and it is heartening to see some of the new products they are creating. I would argue that traditional carriers need to use the expertise they have in insurance to sprint ahead of insurtech firms in the customer-experience arena.

We should be developing services that improve our customers' lives and make them a reality. Adding them as features of doing business with us. We should use all the historical data we have to help customers improve their outcomes. And, as we do this, improve our employees' experiences to allow them to become those outstanding insurance experts who understand and can relate to their customers and employees in other functions.

Our history and long-standing knowledge is being challenged by newcomers who have an advantage over us in regards to modern customer-experience design. We already know our customers, and now, we must adapt to the current marketplace and compete by deepening and bettering our relationships through modern processes. We are working toward this, and I look forward to seeing what we build.

Carly Burnham, CPCU, MBA, has been in the insurance industry since 2004. She blogs at and can be reached at

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