Insurance Academy

If You Don’t Tell Your Story, Someone Else Will

By | Academy Journal Blog | October 4, 2017

I have to be a little transparent today. I’ve struggled with writing. I normally have this post written by mid day on Monday, read over it again on Tuesday, and uploaded to the site for publishing first thing Wednesday morning. So why the struggle? It’s not that there’s a lack of topics to write on, it’s a matter of finding the right one. I don’t want to make this a blog about bashing different insurance companies or entities. Yet, when I listen to insurance company advertising and when I read emails from some insurance companies, I understand that they are playing to a public that doesn’t fully understand what they’re selling and they want to make it as simple as possible.

That’s why some of the characters in insurance advertising can be so compelling. There are some characters that tell us how and why their company is cheaper than the rest. There are other characters tell us a story about a claim that was paid. Other insurance companies prefer to tug on the heart strings in different ways. Maybe they compare a new car with a car that was stripped while its owner was at a meeting. I think you get the point there.

One thing that some of the newest players in insurance are doing better than the old guard are, is that they are communicating to the newest insurance consumers in a language that they get. They are emailing and blogging about what their company is doing. They communicate in a language and a style that speaks to the next generation of insurance consumer.

The problem isn’t that they are telling their story, nor is it that their customers are finding that story compelling. The problem is that their story is just as misleading as traditional insurance company advertising can be and we as insurance professionals aren’t out telling the rest of the story. Here are some of the recent stories I was told by a new insurance company.

The story of the first live insurance policy.

In one recent post, a company announced that customers no longer needed agents or brokers to make policy changes. The customer could do it all by themselves on their smartphones. What an ingenious innovation! Why didn’t insurance companies think about this years ago?

Here’s the rest of the story. My traditional insurance carrier has had that option available online and on my smartphone for at least the last two years. I have never had to go through an agent for help. I have never had to call anyone to make changes to my policy.

As a matter of fact, I’ve had a few different insurance companies over the last 10 years and I’ve bought insurance almost exclusively online in that time. I’ve made policy changes online. I’ve quoted myself different options and different policies. I’ve done it all by myself. To really be honest about it, I keep forgetting to sit down and buy a personal articles floater because my sons have items that need additional covered perils that our HO-4 doesn’t cover. It’ll take just a minute, but when I think about it, I’m in the middle of something else (like writing a blog).

The story of zero everything.

In their most recent post, this same company (by now you’re pretty sure who I’m taking about), announced that you can have a policy with no deductible and no rate increase in the event of a loss. That sounds great. A zero deductible plan? A policy where my claims won’t impact my rate? Sign me up! Let’s be fair to them, very few people like to pay a deductible and even less like a rate increase. I can’t remember the last agent that thanked me for raising rates on a commercial renewal.

Here’s the rest of the story. When I got that email, I read the article and then went and researched the filing online. Yeah, you can do that. I pulled a copy of the filing, reviewed the endorsement and then tried it myself. Do you want to know what I found? The endorsement does provide for a $0 deductible and no rate increase related to certain claims for the first two losses that this provision applies to.

Oh, there are losses that these provisions won’t apply to. If the policy includes a separate deductible for a specific coverage or a specific peril (windstorm and hail for example), the $0 deductible provision doesn’t apply. For the company to waive the rate increase, the endorsement must be a part of the policy and remain a part of the policy on renewal. That means that if they decide to remove the endorsement on renewal, that rate increase can still apply.

One last thing, I tried to quote the option and noted that it increased the quoted premium by over 100%. People have been asking how they can afford to have a $0 deductible program? The customer will pay for it on the front end.

The story of the rest of us.

As insurance professionals, it is really important that we’re watching what the rest of the industry is doing. What companies like the one I’ve been writing about is telling us is that insurance works. It works exactly the way is has worked for 1,000’s of years. People pool similar risks, everyone pays a little, and everyone gets the promise of their financial protection in the event of a loss. We just have to get better at telling our story.

We have to get better at providing our customers with compelling content more than we’re asking them about their insurance needs. We have to get better at explaining what we’re doing to help others. Where are the stories from insurance companies about how they’ve helped the people impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria? I’m looking at you, insurance companies and local agents.

We have to get better at using blogs, short videos, podcasts, social media, and all that stuff that we’re busy complaining about the kids using too much. Two generations ago, advertising had to embrace television and radio to get their messages out there. Why? Because that’s where people were looking. Today, people are looking at their social media on their smartphones. That’s where our story must be.

If we don’t tell our story, someone else will and they’ll tell it wrong.

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Latest Comments

  • October 13, 2017 at 2:33 am
    Mike F says:
    I did the exact same thing regarding the $0 deductible. Lemonade is basically charging the rate that would be charged to someone with two claims per year for a number of years... read more
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