Sleeping With the Enemy Might Be The Only Way to Save Personal Lines Insurance

The last decade has brought tumultuous changes to the insurance industry and especially to the way insurance is sold. We now find ourselves in a world where insurers have become some of the top spending advertisers in the country with Progressive coming at #22 and Uncle Warren’s Geico at #5. Each of those insurers individually spent more on advertising than perennial television spender, Budweiser, who finishes the list at #25. All of this ad spending is working and last year Geico passed Allstate to become the second biggest auto insurer in the country.

This deluge of advertising has been largely focused on price, and it is no secret that it has convinced the average consumer that personal lines insurance is a commodity where the only thing that matters is finding the lowest price. Many analysts such as McKinsey and Nomura Equity Research have declared that insurance is now a commodity. Those of us who work in the industry understand that this is simply not true. Personal lines insurance is not by any means a commodity that ought to be bought on price alone. Personally, we love Chubb’s tagline “Who insures you doesn’t matter. Until it does.”

It’s not just who insures you, but also what your insurance contract says, how high your limits are, how well it is protecting you, and especially whether that contract properly matches your own personal circumstances and need for protection. Several great articles, like this one from Bill Wilson at Insurance Thought Leadership, have appeared in the industry press by coverage experts much more experienced than us, explaining in length and with illustrative examples of how cheap insurance might just as well be no insurance when a large loss happens. As Bill points out “consumers are being duped into believing that personal lines insurance is a commodity, with the only significant difference being price. Nothing could be further from the truth.” We’re not aiming to replicate those explanations here rather we want to offer a crazy idea that just might help us save personal lines from becoming further commoditized.

The articles mentioned above have the right information, but they are targeting the wrong audience. What is sorely needed is a concentrated industry marketing campaign to explain to the general public how insurance is not at all a commodity. We completely agree with Bill and other experts who have shown why insurance isn’t a commodity, but we believe that we have to go further than just getting insurance agents (many of whom are already trying to get their customers interested in looking beyond price) to explain it to their customers. We need a concentrated public facing marketing campaign.

Uncle Warren has made it very clear in his shareholder letters that he will spend whatever is necessary in marketing for Geico to continue growing – giving the Gecko an essentially unlimited wallet. The adorable Australian reptile spends the great majority of his time talking about cheaper rates, every once in a while about customer service, but pretty much never about having proper coverage that meets your need.

Price-focused insurers Geico and Progressive together spend around $1.6 Billion a year on advertising. Quite simply, none of the more traditional service and coverage focused insurers can compete with that much spending on their own.

As you can see above, the vast spending is working. In just over a decade, Geico has moved up to the 2nd highest market share from being only the 6th in 2001. If this continues, it would be no surprise to see Geico surpass the top share within the next decade. Similarly, Progressive, another price focused carrier, has almost doubled its market share, while the traditional customer service focused companies that we mentioned, with the exception of Liberty Mutual, who acquired Safeco during this time, have all seen their market shares shrink. In 2001 Geico and Progressive together accounted for 9.5% market share. By 2013 they have managed to just about double it to 18.7%.

Here’s where our crazy idea comes in: We propose that a group of traditional, customer service and coverage focused insurance carriers start an alliance and dedicate a significant part of their marketing budget into explaining to the people that insurance is really about much more than price alone, showing explicit stories from real people and statistics about the real cost of low-price insurance.

Imagine the three biggest mutual insurance carriers SF, Liberty Mutual and Nationwide, coming together and starting a marketing alliance to educate the public. Let’s tentatively call it the National Mutual Insurers Alliance. Together, the three biggest mutuals spend around $1.55 Billion a year on marketing, very close to Geico and Progressive’s total spend. Obviously the three companies can’t dedicate their entire marketing budget to this project, but if they dedicated some 20% of their budget, a total of around $310 Million per year, they could make a real difference in explaining this important issue to the consumer. Then, they could involve other smaller regional mutuals to participate as minority partners in the effort.

Here’s an idea of what the commercials might look like (although we’re sure the actual marketers at the carriers can do much better):

The opening sequence shows a middle aged couple. The legend underneath says “Mr. and Mrs. Jones. Not a dramatization.”

Mrs. Jones: “We had been insured by our local Liberty agent since college. We really had nothing against him, he was a great guy and always treated us well. But times were tough in 2008, Gary had lost his job, and we were on a limited budget. Like everyone else, we had seen hundreds of commercials about cheap insurance, and right after getting rid of cable, we called them for a quote. We were very happy when they saved us $400 a year.”

Her voice crackles as she goes on:

Mrs. Jones: “We really had no idea that the policy was so different. We never even speed. We never thought we’d ever have a big accident.”

The video fades to a real picture of a car that suffered a rear-end accident. Mrs. Jones’ SUV rear-ended a small coupe. The bumpers are gone but otherwise there’s not that much damage.

Mr. Jones: “At first, we thought everything was fine. The woman driving the other car was a little sore, but she said she would be fine. She was taken to the hospital by ambulance as a precaution, but she was released the same day. We had insurance and thought we had full coverage. We found out a few days later when her lawyer contacted us that we only had state minimum liability coverage, and her medical bills were adding up.”

Mrs. Jones: “The accident ended up in court, and the jury awarded her $150,000. Minimum liability in our state was only $25,000, so that’s all our new insurance company paid for. We lost our house and have liens on our income until the rest of the $125,000 has been paid. This has destroyed our lives. We just had no idea. We thought we were getting the same coverage we had before.”

At the end, it fades to a black screen showing “Mutual Insurers Alliance” and a memorable slogan, along with the logos of Nationwide, SF, and Liberty Mutual as the primary sponsors, and any other smaller mutuals as minority sponsors.

Another commercial could show insurance experts talking in layman’s terms about the cost of claims and how people’s assets are at risk if they don’t have proper coverage tailored to their needs. Outside of the property and casualty industry, these kinds of campaigns already exist. Many are managed by non-profits; we can all think of examples in the medical industry, such as Susan G. Komen for the Cure or the American Heart Association. Closer to our industry, there is Life Happens which was created by national insurance producer organizations to raise awareness around life insurance, and they sponsor Life Insurance Awareness Month every year.

We’re not saying that this is the only solution, but we are saying that it is the right thing to do for the consumers and that somebody has to do it. We believe the big mutuals are in the best position to do so, but it could be any other combination of coverage and service focused insurers who are willing to put their decades of competing with each other aside to save personal lines from becoming a commodity.

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Telematics and Big Data: Next Generation Automotive Technology

Telematics, Big Data, and Analytics are the three big important ways that are driving the auto industry forward. In this article, we will see how big data analytics, with the insights of information processing, can help transform the automotive and transportation industry globally.

The future of telematics is with big data.

Traditionally, in most automotive and transportation enterprises, specialized business processes have always been analyzed and modeled on whatever limited empirical data or contextual information was available to them. Proper data was few and far between. Or, even if the required data was available, enterprises hardly had any technological know-how with them to harness all the information necessary for their use. It was quite a difficult task to deal with such a situation where enterprises heavily relied upon conventional methods such as going through previous driving records, including taking into account people’s age and gender, locale demographics to accurately predict risk levels among its consumer base. This was something haphazard, awkward and unreliable.

Now with the advanced big data analytics, accessibility to scores of information and the science of telematics are putting the current understandings in new light, offering new conversation starters, and creating new potential outcomes that were not really possible before. “Big Data” as we know it is changing everything for the better. It is changing how the vehicles are built, how they work, how we use them and how they collaborate with everything else in this world: From vehicle-assembling to insurance underwriting, to traffic modeling to optimizing traffic routes, Big Data is changing the world of car/fleet transportation industry in a big way.

Big data analytics plays a very important role in the telematics field. The fact of the matter is that the science of telematics which involves telecommunications and vehicular technologies demonstrates how big data analytics can improve supply chain management, fleet management, increase yield and drastically reduce material costs, not to mention the quality and safety issues that never get compromised using proper big data analytics. In fact, the use of relevant data directly leads to more opportunities. It is in this context we will see how Big Data is bringing transformative elements into the various industry sectors especially in insurance, financial, automotive and transportation and other sectors and improve their business processes.

Telematics All The Way

Telematics is ushering an era of big changes. The way vehicles are insured and how they are driven or repaired are all changing for the better.

Earlier, we have seen that insurance and maintenance standards of vehicles were based on some kind of conjecture and the rough utilization of crude data that was available at hand. But with the use of telematics, a strong evidence of data is promptly accessible that can revamp entire branches of the commercial enterprises and change drivers’ driving behaviors.

Thanks to telematics, the wealth of data that can be derived from vehicles can also be made available to drivers. This is also one of the big changes that telematics promises. As far as valid data is concerned, there are simple ways people can immediately access from their connected car, and this same data can also be transmitted to the manufacturers or insurance companies for that matter. So when data is available and is accessible to users then there is going to be better understandings of their vehicles’ performance, ultimately resulting in helping drivers adopt good driving behavior. Drivers will have access to GPS-related data that will let them know their driving styles, including real-time information on fuel consumption, speed limits, hard acceleration, braking, phone distraction, etc. All this useful information can impact not only their driving performance but also can extend the longevity of their cars.

Driving Innovation and Continued Growth for Auto Insurance

To give you just one example: Consider the insurance industry. Using the great combination of telematics and big data analytics, insurance companies are able to enhance their business processes to an extent that was not possible before.

Basically, the insurance industry is based on analytics and probability. Therefore, to have a proper access to accurate and in-depth data that identifies with every customer’s lifestyle and risk always works in the best interest of the insurance industry. This is an area where telematics has been adding quite a lot of significant value propositions that matter greatly to both insurance companies and their paying clients alike.

With telematics and big data analytics, insurance companies don’t have to resort to guesswork to fix premiums for their customers. It has enabled insurers to reward policyholders, who display good driving conduct and check their vehicle health stats, with lower premiums and rebate offerings by taking the guesswork out of the equation. This is nothing but a big data approach to telematics insurance.

Telematics is a positive trendsetter and has grown exponentially in recent years. The positive impact that it has over companies and consumers alike is proving to be a win-win deal for everyone. And as far as telematics is concerned Big Data would be there too, working hand in hand. Not only consumers but automotive manufacturers and service providers as well are going to get greatly benefitted from the marriage of big data and telematics. And since the relationship is really symbiotic, big data is going to be the future of telematics. Embrace big data and telematics in a big way!

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Why an Independent Insurance Agency?

Whether you are in the market for homeowners, renters, auto, commercial, property, workers comp, life, umbrella, or any other insurance, you want the most tailored plan at the cheapest quote. As a layman though, it all seems so puzzling. Besides the complicated insurance jargon, it certainly is difficult for you to assess your needs accurately – let alone find the precise insurance source to get you the right policy at the right price.

What you need is a specialist – someone who really comprehends all the ins and outs of the insurance world – someone who will gladly take the time to review your individual situation along with any existing coverage that you may have. Moreover, you need a trusted source that will be able to configure every aspect of customized protection to your benefit.

To whom do you turn to for matters as important as protecting assets, property, business and the like? Ask anyone in the know about the industry and they will steer you to an independent agency that has rights to do direct dealings with many of the leading insurance companies. As opposed to a dependent agency or a single company representing itself, the independent agency has no ulterior motive in directing you to one insurance company over the other. Partnered with an extensive network of underwriters, this type of agency searches its set of connections to come up with what works best for you. Equipped with a list of all sorts of policies there is no reason to settle on anything but the optimum.

The Independent Agent – piecing the puzzle pieces together for the customer

An experienced independent agency has your best interest in mind as it
- Emphasizes the client’s needs above all else
- Clarifies any questions about the differing policies
- Goes to great length to locate tailored coverage with a pleasing quote

Finding the agency that looks out for the customer the way you want it also requires some research, however. This is because not all independent agencies are alike in excellence. Though any insurer may claim to harbor a close connection with any given strong insurance company, there are variances to the type of bond they enjoy. In order to gain from dealing with a truly winning broker, the customer must link itself with an establishment that has superior access to the indemnity that matches requirements. In addition, it’s imperative to find an agency that is all-rounded – from before the sale, during the sale and after the sale – willing to act as your staunch advocate even when there is a claim.

Before sitting down with an insurer, make sure you are sitting down with someone with the capability, and strong ethics that will indeed make you into a satisfied policyholder!

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The Best Way To Protect Yourself

It is true that nothing is permanent and life is full of risks. Hence, nothing is better than having an insurance plan. If you are looking to have an insurance plan, then you will not find it hard to get a one as selling an insurance plans as become a profitable business. And thus, many companies and agencies are getting started to involve in this business. But before taking any plan, it is vital to know and understand the policy clearly. But what are the actual types of insurance? If this is your question, then look at the below-mentioned types of insurance.

Pet Insurance: In the case of a pet insurance, the insurer will pay veterinary expenses if the pet is wounded or suffering from illness. Pet insurance is also validated if the pet gets die, lost or stolen.

Health Insurance: A health insurance is a policy that says the insurer (who sold insurance) will pay a lump sum amount to the insured (who purchased insurance) person if the insured person gets injured by accident or falls sick by a disease.

Travel Insurance: As the name suggests, travel insurance is related to the loss that occurs while traveling. It covers theft of baggage, delayed luggage, personal possessions, emergency emigration, accidental death, etc.

Life insurance: Is a policy which states that the insurer will pay an amount to the nominee or the family of the insured person if the insured person dies. For this, the insured person needs to pay the premiums on a regular basis.

Dental Insurance: It is similar to the health insurance, but the difference is that the insurer will be liable to pay if the insured person finds something unusual in his dental care. Thus, dental insurance benefits in case of sudden dental costs.

Auto Insurance: The insurance which is related to the automobiles is called auto insurance. In this policy, if the vehicle gets damaged due to the accident or other traffic issues then the insurer will have to pay a certain amount to the owner. In the case of a huge damage, some auto companies replace the vehicles totally.

You have to inquire about the eligibility criteria and choose the discounts that apply to you. Also, a few good discount for going through a driver’s training course and other driver learning programs. If you want to reap the benefit of this offer, you just need to go through a certified course and then show the insurer your certificate. This can save you about 10% on premiums, which adds up. Remember that different types of auto models have different auto insurance coverage and rate.

You can ask the companies about their rates as well

Often, sports and expensive automobiles bring in the highest rates. If your automobile has an excellent and satisfactory maintenance rating, there is a better chance for you getting lower insurance rates. You also need to know some basics about auto insurance premiums before applying for it. Apart from those points above, such as maintenance rating and the driver learning program, there are some other criteria too included in the pricing policy structure. For instance, gender is a big component, the monthly mileage driven and even the color of the automobile.

Good2go specializes in offering their customers the basics to keep them on the road, but this doesn’t mean basic service. Their claims and customer service lines are open seven days a week, or you can use their 24-hour automated system or online portal to make a payment. Good to go insurance offers coverage to high-risk drivers and those who are newly licensed or do not currently have coverage.

Mike Heuer is an experienced writer and specializing in vehicle coverage.

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The Significance of Pure Air Inside Your Home

Have you ever climbed up mountains? If so, what do you do when you reach the top? Most people open their arms, close their eyes, and take a deep breath. That is the special thing about clean and fresh air. You feel like taking a pause and inhaling fresh air. Over the past year, we have faced several waves of coronavirus. These days, we have been warned about another wave of this virus. Therefore, the importance of clean air has been increasing day by day. In this article, we are going to find out why air quality is important when it comes to our indoor environment.

The impact of pollution on your indoor air

No matter where you go, you will have to face the consequences of poor quality. Even if you are alone in your home, you will still be prone to polluted air. Every year, more than 1 million people lose their life because of air pollution.

According to some reports, India is among the top 10 countries in the world with the worst air quality. The effect of polluted air is more evident as people spend over 90% of their time inside their homes. Another research study found that residents are at a greater risk of covid-19.

As a matter of fact, indoor air pollution has become an international concern. We can say that pollution levels inside and in closed spaces are up to five times higher. Since most pollutants are not visible to the naked eye, you may not be able to aware of the dangers of dirty air.

Indoor air pollutants may be generated by common household items, such as cleaning agents, cooking fuel, furniture polish, pet dander, and paint. Apart from this, domestic appliances such as refrigerators and heaters may also be the common source.

Since homes are not airtight, air pollutants can easily get in. For example, smog, smoke, mold spores, and dust can get into your house through your windows or doors. Air conditioners can be used to cool down your rooms. But the downside is that they can also boost the movement of pollutants across your house.

What can you do to purify your indoor air?

Basically, air purifiers are simple devices that receive dirty air and put it out after passing it through powerful filters. Nowadays, you can choose from hundreds of air purification units available in the market. They are based on a wide range of technologies. They are available in different sizes to cover rooms of different sizes.

Nowadays, most types of air purifiers depend on HEPA technology. Initially, this technology was introduced in the 40s in order to capture pollutants from the air. Although these filters have been used for the filtration of particulate matter, they may not be that effective when it comes to eliminating volatile organic compounds.

Therefore, if you are worried about your health, we suggest that you invest in a type of device that comes with a HEPA filter. With these units, filtering your indoor air will be a piece of cake. Therefore, you can count on these devices to and ensure clean air inside your house.

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