digital reigns supreme: new insurance customers want an online experience

Tyler Asher
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Safeco's digital investments fuel your ability to deliver the ease, choice and expert advice that consumers want today and in the future.

Consumers want more ways to engage and do business from wherever they are and on whatever devices they have handy. Analysts and industry watchers have no shortage of data points to reflect consumers’ growing insistence on digital experiences.

Looking at just two of these studies – Forrester’s “The State of Digital Insurance, 2016” and the J.D. Power “2016 Insurance Digital Evaluation Study” – we learn that current insurance consumers are:

  • Online-savvy. Consumers are active online and relying on their insurers’ websites; 56 percent of all insurance customers have visited their insurer’s website in the past month. Roughly 33 percent of U.S. home insurance customers interact with their insurance company via email.
  • Connected. They are using multiple devices and channels and have begun using their mobile devices for insurance purposes. Ninety percent of Gen Y customers expect all the services and information available from the website to also be available on the company’s mobile app.
  • Self-directed. Insurance consumers are looking for the information they want anytime and anywhere, as evidenced by the 73 percent of U.S. consumers who research life insurance online and the 60 percent who research vehicle insurance online.
  • Open to new media and technologies. They are embracing the newest technologies and viewing digital media at a higher rate than ever. In 2016, 46 percent of insurance shoppers said they find videos of policy information helpful, a seven percent increase from the number who felt that way in 2015.

The Forrester article also states that consumers are adopting new behaviors and technologies faster than ever before – a trend that they refer to as ‘hyperadoption’ – which is affecting the insurance industry on a large scale.

how safeco is investing in digital capabilities

As Safeco’s president, I have no doubt that all carriers and agents need to be deeply digital in their approach to interacting with customers.

Our approach in providing digital capabilities to customers is to use technology to automate what we consider to be lower-value touches. These are the things customers want to be able to do on their own, and they are also the things that many agents would rather relieve their staff from doing because it’s not adding unique value to the relationship.

We’ve recently streamlined customers’ registration process, making it easier than ever to allow policyholders to service their account on their own terms. Earlier this year we launched Safeco® Mobile – an app that integrates with customer’s account so everything they can do on (manage policies, make a payment, download an ID card, etc.) can also be done within the app.

In addition, the claims and roadside support feature on the app guides customers who have been in an auto accident through the accident scene information gathering and claim submission process. Customers can also file a glass claim and get immediate towing services in the event of an auto incident. Plus, they can track claims for any policy type – all from the app.

Safeco is investing to be an industry leader in customer self-service, and while doing so, fueling our agents’ ability to deliver the ease, choice and expert advice that consumers want today and in the future. But evolving to meet changing expectations is a shared responsibility. Like insurance carriers, independent agents who invest in technology and have a plan for meeting the consumer on their terms will be the agents who win in the long term.

about the author

Tyler Asher
President, Safeco Insurance

Tyler Asher has been with Safeco Insurance since 1999 and has served in a variety of roles spanning finance, accounting, management reporting and analysis. As part of the company’s innovation efforts, Asher’s team recently delivered Safeco’s “Insurance Advisor” skill for Amazon Alexa; becoming the first insurance carrier to enable consumers to navigate the insurance process simply by using their voice.

Asher is also active in the Seattle community and serves on the board of the Accounting Careers Awareness Program, a non-profit dedicated to encouraging inner-city youth to look at careers in business, finance, and accounting. In addition, he supports the Ben Towne Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation, the American Heart Association, and several other Seattle health and human services organizations.

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Mike Demko

I’m not surprised by Safeco’s deeper investment in responding to the needs of today’s digital consumer. You do a great job helping agents with your Bricks N’ Clicks and Customers for Life programs.

Brian Hepler

I have over 400 auto policies alone on the books, not counting other personal lines policies and I would say that about 2 out of 10 contact me directly by which I mean in person or over the phone. These tend to be the older generation that do not use/have email or smartphones. The vast majority of my communication with customers is via email these days. I just wanted to share my experience as it was so much more skewed towards the digital side that the numbers above.