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building the right book of business for sustainability

Building the Right Book of Business for Sustainability

On average, businesses spend five times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one, according to research by Invesp, a consulting company specialising in conversion rate optimisation in North America. For the insurance industry, that number is even higher. “The insurance industry has the highest customer acquisition costs of any industry. It costs seven to nine times more for an insurance agency to attract a new customer than to retain one,” says Lynn Thomas, president of 21st Century Management Consulting.

In today´s economy, how insurers can acquire new customers was the central theme during the ´Building New Digital Distribution Channels´conference, run by InsurTech NY. Over several panels, speakers discussed how insurers are seeking different ways to acquire new customers and how they are increasingly working with InsurTechs to drive down the cost of acquisition while being a catalyst to drive growth.

Simon Fagg, Product Strategist at AdvantageGo, was joined by Skip Coan, SVP of e2Value, and Chris Donahue, Chief Underwriting Officer at Hippo in the panel session ´Building the Right Book of Business Sustainability´, moderated by David Gritz, Managing Director, InsurTech NY. During this session, panelists discussed the importance of having the right data sources, how to build a sustainable book of business in today´s hard market, and the different advantages between legacy carriers and start-ups.

Kicking off the session, David asks what are some of the things insurers can do to take advantage of the hard market, eke out economic returns and limit risk from policy holders that maybe are not as forward-thinking. Answering first, Skip responds that there is not much time to go through a lengthy underwriting process in this type of market, and having the right data is crucial. “The important thing is to start with the right data source. You have to be able to get data that you can use. There´s a lot of data out there that you can throw at these problems, but if it´s not usable, not digestible, you can´t discern how to use that data for rating and pricing, you´re not going to go anywhere with it.” 

How about insurtech in the E&S market, asks David? Simon answers that those carriers who are using data will be the ones that will make the difference in underwriting performance. “So in my view, yes, absolutely there´s an opportunity there for the market, but it really is around underwriting performance. It has to be around the triage, the pre-bind process, there has to be good due diligence in terms of the data points and some of the points that were just made earlier, the ability to bring in the right data in. Data is ultimately going to drive this industry as we move forwards, and it´s doing that now and will continue to do so.”  

Being at Hippo, David asks Chris to share some examples of smart homes and data usage. Chris mentions that Hippo has to compete on a different basis than other carriers who may have decades of historical data. However, being a start-up carrier has its advantages as they have a clean slate which enables them to start with new data sources. “These data sources are really doing two things for us,” says Chris. “One is; it helps us to get to faster, more accurate quotes for our clients. As Skip said, nobody is sitting around waiting a month to get a policy anymore, we want to be able to get accurate information; get an accurate quote to our clients, and this data is the source of that. The other piece of this is that data is really sources of insights, and who these clients are and what we know about them, not just around expected losses, not just about loss cost, but about what their behaviours are.”  

Rounding up the session, David asks, what is one key takeaway for incumbents to build a sustainable book of business. Narrowing down your focus, saving time, and creating the best customer experience were the key areas for this group.

Simon: “I would say, look for the opportunity. The niche is the important part. Don´t go too broad too early.”

Skip: “I think the one thing is time. I think if you´re not selling time, if what your niche or the tools you´re providing aren´t selling time to the customer experience, to the underwriting timeframe, you´re going to miss out.” 

Chris: “Instead of thinking from claims back, think forward, think how do we prevent the claims that are happening. That creates a better customer experience.”

You can watch the full discussion here:

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