Weekly Wrapup: Auto insurers see satisfaction lift from digital

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The Weekly Wrapup is an analysis of the week's insurance news from the editors of Digital Insurance.

The digital transformation of the insurance industry can appear paradoxical: Carriers are rolling out advanced tech capabilities at rapid rates. Insurtech companies are coming up with new approaches to legacy processes regularly. And every indication from the greater economy indicates that customers are looking for a 21st-century customer experience from all their corporate partners.

But despite the feeling of speedy evolution, actual take-up and transformation takes time. New initiatives have to be ideated, approved, developed, released, and successfully adopted. However, the past several years of hard work by insurers is beginning to pay off.

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The latest J.D. Power & Associates U.S. Auto Insurance Study found that customer satisfaction with that lline of business is at an all-time high, despite rates creeping up. In a line that has been heavily commodfied that has led to premiums hitting a floor and bouncing back, service is becoming the key differentiator. And, says Robert Lajdziak, Insurance Practice Business Consultant at J.D. Power, insurance customers especially are noticing and appreciating the work their carriers are doing to enable self-service digitally for simpler transactions.

“With respect to servicing, digital increasingly provides a more satisfying experience, particularly for more transactional needs,” he says. “Customers still often want to discuss price and coverage options with a professional, so the best [mix] is typically an online and offline experience throughout the year.”

J.D. Power also found that participation in usage-based insurance programs grew 25% this year. While that still only represents one in 10 auto policies, it’s still a significant movement for the sector, which had been static at about 8% of the industry for two years. Carriers are doing a good job of changing the conversation around UBI to be less discount-focused and more about the ancillary benefits of signing on, Lajdziak says. Combining it with other digital initiatives could spur even more, quicker growth, since it takes some of the sting and fear out of sharing data.

“Many customers not using [UBI] say they don’t want their driving monitored or don’t think they will get a discount. We see the tipping point being customers perceiving value in UBI beyond possible discounts,” he explains. “Increasingly, customers using a program are identifying value in UBI for its ability to provide driving tips, monitor teen drivers, track the vehicle’s location and help roadside assistance.”

Amazon watch

Industry observers continue to weigh in on Amazon's potential interest in selling home insurance.

At CNBC, skpeticism reigns, especially given the fact that Amazon's current range of smarthome devices aren't equipped to detect the most common homeowner's perils. However, the company's customer reach (49% of the U.S. has a Prime membership) is not something to ignore.

On Quartz, Amazon's automation of white-collar jobs is drawing comparisons to things happening in insurance.

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Customer experience Customer-centricity Customer service Customer service Mobile technology Digital distribution Digital payments JD Power Amazon