More than 10 million U.S. individuals are millionaires, according to Credit Suisse, and insurers are competing with each other to take advantage of he increase in high-value, high-net-worth prospects.
In the fall of 2017, W.R. Berkley Corp. launched Berkley One, a new business aiming to tap into this market, in the state of Illinois. It offers home, automobile, fine art and collectibles and excess liability insurance products, with additional product and geographical expansion slated for this year. The business unit is led by Kathleen Tierney, a 2013 Digital Insurance Women in Insurance Leadership honoree, who joined Berkley last year with a charge to create a new company targeting high-net-worth consumers from the ground up.
“Berkley is a Fortune 500 company with history and knowledge of the [insurance] business, but it also gives people the opportunity to manage their own operating units,” Tierney says. “The majority of companies [within it] have been created from scratch, allowing us to blend between the traditional and the ability to innovate.”
As Tierney and her team examined the market, they naturally gravitated toward digital in order to achieve the customer experience that they wanted. That meant Berkley One started with a built-to-order policy administration system that supports its mobile app, and customer and agent portals, with round-the-clock digital access.
“It’s not digital just for digital's sake, it's more about creating a really great experience and making sure that we can be present for people how they want us to be,” she explains. “That gets you to a solution set that is going to have a lot to do with tech and digital interaction, what we can do that's different and will wow the customer.”
Tierney adds that for this particular customer base, allowing them to get the right kind of coverage quick enough so that they can enjoy their new high-ticket purchases is an important part of Berkley One’s appeal.
“It’s about having an appropriate sense of self and understanding the role that insurance plays in people's lives – and that includes knowing that they want their insurance experience to be quick and accessible and easy,” she says. “If someone is buying a car or acquiring a piece of jewelry on the weekend, they don’t want the experience of printing the auto ID card to be difficult. They're thinking about getting on with their life, celebrating what it is that they've earned. A lot of our messaging is about helping people get on with their adventure.”
However, especially for Berkley One's target customer, building with a digital mindset doesn't preclude the involvement of a robust agent force. Agents’ relationships with the high-net-worth consumers Berkley One is courting are valuable. The company is focusing on using digital for more of the day-to-day transactions, while allowing agents to add value in other areas.
“There has been a true openness among the agents and a willingness to make the insurance experience better together,” Tierney says. “There are going to be times when people want a person-to-person interaction, like during a claim and there are other times they want the speed of a digital experience. We want to be present when, where and how people want us to be.”
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