This week marks the beginning of the third annual Insurance Careers Month. You didn’t know that February is Insurance Careers Month? Really? Now you do. Don’t thank me, I’m just a messenger. We are in support of this movement, not just because it’s a good idea, but it’s a critical idea. The insurance industry is understaffed and that staffing issue will not resolve itself. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that most jobs in insurance are on a path to being swallowed up by underwriting bots, claims bots, insuretech apps, AI, machine learning, and SkyNet.
I understand your fear. I watched that movie, too and none of us is John Connors. Despite what we read in the news and blogs (other blogs, not this blog), the next wave of insuretech companies are not going to disrupt us all out of our jobs. As long as there is insurance, there will need to be people who can serve the insurance customers. We will have to deal with technological advances, and we will have to integrate more technology into our work as insurance professionals. Let me give you four reasons that your insurance career is relatively safe.
Technological innovation does not create universal acceptance.
One thing that we should have learned by now, is that not everyone is comfortable with innovation. There is that stereotype that the older a person is, the less likely they are to accept the new stuff. There is some truth to that, but it isn’t completely true. In fact, there are people who are younger than I am that eschew technological advances. It really has less to do with age than it does with culture. Some people just don’t culturally accept certain things.
We’ve all heard that e-book readers would be the end of the printed book. To be fair, the internet did cause the printed newspaper to suffer, but there are still printed newspapers. Magazine subscriptions have suffered, but the printed magazine still exists. Yet something happened that the e-book crowd didn’t see coming. People just like reading books. There’s something visceral about holding a book and reading it. People like to dog ear pages and write notes and highlight their books. Turns out that the book isn’t dead, even though there is a technological equivalent.
Some people will always want to do business with people directly.
I’ve read enough tech reviews of insurebots and how easy they make your insurance purchases, submission of claims, and policy changes. They’re right. It is easy. You know what else is fairly easy? The self-checkout line at the grocery store. Yet, whenever I go to the grocery store, people still go to the checkout lines staffed by a person. Some of the people are shiny happy people (holding hands?), others are sullen or downright grumpy.
I know that I’ve spent enough time trying to interact with bots, robocalls, FAQs, and other non-person customer service interactions that sometimes, I just want to press 0 and get a person on the phone. I’m not the only one that likes to talk to a person. In fact, I have avoided chatbots and robocalls by just sending a message directly to a customer service agent.
I find it to be similar to the push back with e-book readers. The more technology tries to replace (or replicate) human interactions, the more some people still want to deal with a live person on the phone, over email, or face-to-face. Chatbots and policy issuance apps can get it done quickly, but they are not relational. They cannot build a relationship with a person. They may be able to simulate relationship building behaviors, but there is no connection.
There will always be a need for great insurance people.
Let’s be totally honest with each other, there are people in our industry that aren’t good people. There are bad actors in insurance. There are agents who treat insurance like just another commodity. They sell the cheapest product, without regard to whether it meets their customers’ needs. They relegate service to someone that hasn’t had the proper training to truly serve an insurance customer. There are adjusters who don’t want to properly pay legitimate claims in a timely manner so the claims process feels so much more painful than it ought. There are company people who make getting insurance more difficult for some customers.
The list goes on. There’s a reason that we have the reputation that we have in some circles. Yet, there are others (me, you, your peers) who see their work in insurance as a public service. We see what we do as important. We help our customers to understand that what they are buying isn’t just a necessary evil to make the mortgage company happy or to keep from getting a traffic ticket. We help people to understand that the insurance purchase is a way to reduce some of the risk of living in our modern world. We help people to see that their policy doesn’t (and cannot possibly) cover everything that might happen and to prepare for those events. We build relationships with people. We help businesses to make sure that they can serve their communities.
We will always need people to teach insurance people.
As long as there are people who need to understand how insurance works, there will need to be people who teach insurance. As I travel and talk with my fellow insurance educators, I hear the same story over and over. More people are retiring from teaching insurance. Some of the greats that taught me are no longer with us.
We need new people in insurance that have a passion for deep understanding of the insurance process, insurance policies, and insurance jargon. We need you to develop into the insurance professional that you can be so that you can help us to teach the next generation of insurance professional.
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