Savvy listeners to this morning's Allstate earnings call heard a lot more than just financial-performance numbers. The company's executive leadership demonstrated that technology innovation is driving strategy at a high level.
Not only did CEO Tom Wilson cite the opportunity in the "connected consumer" in noting that Allstate has "three-quarters of a million" DriveWise and DriveSense customers (the former is the Allstate-branded telematics offering, while the latter is Esurance's), but he also said: "We continued laying the foundation to reduce low value added tasks by our agencies while increasing their ability to provide trusted advice to customers."
Translated: We are going to take minor administrative tasks out of our agents' hands and let them focus on more valuable relationship-building. That was confirmed later by company president Matthew Winter, who said, "We are trying to use data analytics, emerging technologies, and centralized support services to pull [certain tasks] out of the agencies."
It's an example of how technology strategy has matured at insurance companies over the past decade or so. Rather than disintermediating agents, the increased ability to use direct contact with customers to automate certain tasks frees up agents' ability to focus on customer acquisition. And, of course, they're getting technology tools to do so on that end.
Another key insight came from Don Civgin, president of emerging businesses for Allstate. In response to a question about raising premium rates on customers, Civgin showed how Allstate made a data-driven decision to identify the source of increased claims frequency and adjust accordingly.
"We did a very intense, deep dive into our business to ensure that the increases in frequency that we’ve seen were proportional across the business. We looked at new and renewal business, higher and lower growth states, and across different rating plans," he said. "All of that review showed that this trend is externally driven by miles driven."
In fact, miles driven were 3.9% higher than normal for the period across the board, according to externally sourced data, Civgin said. And, Allstate was able to use its own data to confirm that because of its telematics initiatives.
"Because we keep our DriveWise device in the car, we’re able to look at that data on an ongoing basis. So we have our own specific proprietary data that shows the trend" toward more miles being driven in a period and corresponding upticks in claims, Civgin explained.
The upshot is that from distribution to pricing, analytic excellence is helping Allstate and other large insurers drive their strategies, confirming that insurance is positioned to become a leading industry for leveraging the full potential of analytics.
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