Ken Crerar is the President/CEO of The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers, a DC-based trade association representing the top 200 commercial insurance brokerages in the world. In 2013, Crerar was named one of the industry’s top 100 “Game Changers". Who better to tell us how he sees the role of a modern day broker? We are grateful to Ken for his contribution below.
I love technology. It helps me work more efficiently and consume products more easily. With few exceptions, everything I need to navigate my day is in the palm of my hand.
But I’m also human. And there are times when a phone or a robot just doesn’t cut it. I expect high-touch, personalized service, even when it comes to insurance. Scratch that - especially when it comes to insurance.
We don’t talk about customer service in our industry as much as we should. Service is what insurance brokers do. One of our board members once said to me, “Your reputation is literally all you have as a broker”. I’ve never forgotten that. Brokers don’t just sell a product on behalf of an insurance company. They sell their advice, counsel and reputation. And the good ones go the extra mile. They turn what may seem like a routine insurance transaction into a true partnership.
Take, for example, findings from the recent Financial Conduct Authority report on the Wholesale Insurance Broker Market in London. More than 65 percent of survey respondents indicated that “quality of the service provided” was the most important factor in their choice of broker. Not far behind were “knowledge/experience of the broker” and “reputation of the broker.” Needless to say, the report, which set out to investigate unethical market power, concluded by confirming the value of brokers.
There’s long been talk that technology will disintermediate the broker but I’ve never believed that. The innovation we’re seeing is driven by brokers. Think about it: innovation comes from the street and brokers are the ones on the street. Yes, they have to be prepared for the increasingly dynamic world in which we live. And yes, they must continue to innovate in order to achieve sustainable, long-term growth. But brokers are the ones providing the expertise of the insurance products your clients need to keep their businesses protected.
As processes become even more automated and customer demand for speed and ease is heightened, broker value is more at play than ever. One way to unlock the full potential of our industry is by combining broker trust with technology. Of course, that’s easier said than done. In fact, “adopting new technologies” and “enhancing customer experience” are consistently cited top organizational challenges in The Council’s quarterly property/casualty market index. But when done right, technology (i.e. data) can create new levels of insight for loss prevention and risk mitigation. New levels of insight (i.e. personalization) can create new levels of trust. Put the two together and you have the successful broker of the future.
This extends, in large part, to the claims process - a process in which our industry is not winning any awards at the moment.
Some people like the idea of buying insurance products without talking to a sales person. The technology, for them, is the service. That is, until they need to file a claim.
Chatting with a bot and uploading video evidence of your flood damage through an app is not the only experience you want when your head is spinning. You need a real person to help you sort everything out, especially for complex claims.
This is the real opportunity for brokers.
Maximizing technologies and analytics may help streamline processes, but they can’t replace the human advocate who offers guidance and solutions in times of distress. A superior customer experience blends the two and keeps your clients focused on what’s important to them. And isn’t that the name of the game?
Ken A. Crerar is President/CEO of The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers.
Crerar first joined The Council in 1987 as chief lobbyist and director of its political action committee. He was named president in 1992. Since then, he has built the organization into the leading representative of the most successful commercial insurance and employee benefits intermediaries across the globe. In 2013, Crerar was named one of the industry’s top 100 “Game Changers.”
About The Council
The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers is the premier association for the top regional, national and international commercial insurance and employee benefits intermediaries worldwide. Council members are market leaders who annually place 85 percent of U.S. commercial property/casualty insurance premiums and administer billions of dollars in employee benefits accounts. With expansive international reach, The Council fosters industry wide relationships around the globe by engaging lawmakers, regulators and stakeholders to promote the interests of its members and the valuable role they play in the mitigation of risk for their clients. Founded in 1913, The Council is based in Washington, D.C.
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