The agents and the brokers are a cornerstone of the insurance industry. They are true entrepreneurs that, in most cases, start a business, hire people and serve their customers. With the rise of the InsurTech wave and the entrance of tech entrepreneurs to the insurance industry the agents, and mainly the brokers, are perceived as a middleman, as a cost that digital products can, and should replace in the name of cost reduction and efficiency. These claims, are partially false, or plainly disconnected from the insurance industry.
I invited Jeremy Hallet, CEO of Hallett Financial and founder of Quotacy, to a fireside chat to answer the question how technology changed the agent's business throughout the years. From the introduction of the fax machine, the pager, the mobile printer to the mobile phone and the iPhone. I wanted Jeremy to share with the audience his twenty years of experience in the insurance industry and the motivation to launch Quotacy.
When one invites a knowledgeable speaker, one needs to invite a knowledgeable interviewer.
Jason Cass joined InsurTechLA as an interviewer to ask all the hard, and soft, questions and to keep a fast pace and a high energy discussion.
I recommend to watch the event as it was vivid and overflowing with information. Here are several snippets (with edits) from the discussion.
[Q] JC: in the past several years, billions of dollars were invested into the new insurTech companies and none of them is making a profit. Does it make sense?
[A] JH: I didn't read all the balance sheets of all the companies that are out there, but it takes two to four years to grow a business. I invest my revenue back in the business so I can bring it to the next level.
[Q] JC: Let's talk about IoT.
[A] JH: Hippo, an MGA that positioned in the market as premium service, provides Roost, a leak detector, to its customers. By been pro-active the carriers can provide IoT devices and reduce unnecessary claims.
"A smoke detector is built to beep at 3 in the morning, that's how the chemistry in the 9v battery works. A 9v battery with Wifi can tell you, your phone, that it is beeping".
The insurance companies see the changes and want to adopt it. The InsurTech companies push the carriers better than the agents towards that change.
JH: a Wells Fargo executive told me "I have millions of customers; I cannot make a mistake. But a new FinTech startup can go and make mistakes. They can go and make version 1 and then version 2 and 3. Only then, Wells Fargo will step in and buy the tech, the supporting technology and what else is going on".
[Q] GS: how the technologies (Iot, CRM, new quoting systems etc) help the agents?
[A] JH: I would say - push the carriers to adopt the technology, the services and reduce the rates and improve the service.
There are agents who want to change and adapt new tools and new ways. They need the carriers help.
JH: how can I help the agent that works for me, or uses Quotacy, to provide service to a 45 years old couple who wants to protect their family.
JH: underwriting manuals are 2,000 pages long. I work with twenty carries. It is hard to compare the best price and coverage in 40,000 pages.
JC: I get it, it is all about making the money. There are four pieces: Price, Cost, Coverage and Service + Relationship. The carriers control everything but the relationship. It is hard to place a price tag on customer relationship.
The mix of the agent and the tech will be a winner.
JC: Jeremy, tell us about Quotacy.
JH: Quotacy is the best place to buy life insurance. My other goal is to get 1,000,000 families under the umbrella.
Do you pick up the phone from an unfamiliar number?! No. If you are expecting an email I'll send you an email.
Fast claim process leads to a happy customer and a better brand.
Technology and AI don't come to take our employees (the agency) jobs. New tech enables us to give our employees meaningful work.
JC: the industry is lacking young people. The agency owner can be the cause and solution to the problem that prevents the advancement of his own business. If you give a young man a phone book and tell him to start dialing, first, I don't think he ever saw a phone book, second, he will not do it because there are better ways to work.
The agency owner should find a way out of the "pale, stale, male" problem.
JC: I write commercial insurance. The carrier expect a renewal on November 1st. I need to meet the business owner in September because the carrier tells me it will take 60-90 days to underwrite it.
We should have weekly policies. The reason that we have a yearly policy is the time that it takes to write the policy. Take a look at Trov and Slice.
Meaningful work, meaningful life.
Setting up the place. Once again, my thanks to Carbon Five that made their Santa Monica office available to the LA InsurTech community.