Insurers, intermediaries and interactions

From channels to networks

Insurance is a peculiar product. In simplest terms, customers buy a promise: the promise that when the negative event they insured against happens, the provider will replace the loss.

Purchasing a promise requires trust. Today’s customers have instant access to almost unlimited information, and are willing and able to share facts, opinions and experiences with their peers. This imposed transparency changes expectations toward insurers, and makes it more difficult for them to be perceived as trustworthy providers of the security promise. Fortunately, even in a digital world, people still tend to trust people. Personal relationships, such as those with insurance agents and brokers – the intermediaries – continue to work.

How can insurers serve their customers personally while coping with the broad information and interaction demands of the digital age? How do they make sure it is their intermediaries that matter? How should the connections between insurer, intermediary and customer be constructed? To find out, we surveyed consumers and intermediaries, and interviewed insurers in 17 countries. What did we learn?

In our last study, we advised insurers to “say goodbye to the channel” and embrace the concept of “interaction points” instead. Ultimately, they might need to go even one step further – to move from the one-way path of dedicated channels all the way to the flexibility of interaction networks.

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