2021 – A year of opportunity for the insurance industry
Let’s face it... 2020 brought more than enough excitement for P&C distribution partners, carriers, and customers. But true to form, insurance agencies and their teams proved that they are indeed heroes in their communities—stepping up to help their clients get through one of the most difficult years we can remember.
Last year’s challenges presented multiple opportunities for the P&C insurance industry to grow and learn. In my mind, 2020 revealed three areas where carriers must focus their attention if they want to be successful in 2021:
- Make it as easy as possible for distribution partners to meet their needs
- Be a growth partner who can deliver relevant, innovative products to meet customers’ protection needs and help agencies transform during these changing times
- Understand the importance of an inclusive workforce that represents our customer
Make it easy!
I spent time listening to our partners over the past several months and repeatedly heard a similar message from them: Make it easy for us to work with you.
They went on to explain what that means to them:
- Carriers need to be easy to work with, both in our communications with them and in how we enable them to sell our products/solutions. And our technologies must work seamlessly with theirs. That’s why Nationwide accelerated our rollout of Nationwide Express, offering expedited quote and bind to personal and commercial lines clients.
- We must deliver what they expect with as little friction as possible. Consumers are looking for protection from insurance carriers who are secure and stable. Nationwide has been around for nearly 100 years and has a reputation for providing best-in-class products and solutions. Carriers that continue to provide this level of consistency to their partners will earn their trust and their business.
- Carriers need to offer relevant protection for customers’ changing needs, which are only increasing amid the pandemic. For example, Nationwide’s SmartRide and SmartMiles products offer customers choices that meet their personalized driving behaviors and budget. On the commercial side, Vantage 360 is a free telematics offering for small and large businesses that provides an easy way to manage fleet vehicles, monitor driving activity, and mitigate workplace safety concerns.
Thanks to our partners’ feedback, Nationwide is already seeing the positive results of this strategy, even during one of the most unique years any of us have experienced.
Growth partner with innovative solutions
The pandemic has accelerated innovation timelines for the industry—things that recently had multi-year ramp-ups are now being brought to market in a matter of months or even weeks. That has led to opportunities for customers and distribution partners.
- Digitization and technology advances have made it easier to provide faster service to their customers and demand transformation of sales capabilities in this new digital landscape.
- Telematics has allowed customers and businesses to reimagine their mobility protections, saving them money in the process.
- Self-service allows customers and partners to get the information they need and make the changes they want on their schedule. Online, mobile, and texting capabilities have sped up the process, from insurance purchasing to submitting a claim, putting the power right in the hands of the customer and partner.
In today’s environment, carriers must be innovative to meet partner and customer needs. The pandemic has customers returning to well-established, stable insurance carriers. However, that doesn’t mean that those carriers can continue doing business the way they were before the pandemic.
At Nationwide, we’re working with insurtech startups to quickly develop and stand-up new products/solutions that will protect customers and help them avoid losses, save them money, and help partners increase their book of business. For example, Nationwide’s venture capital investment in Flo Technologies (now Flo by Moen) resulted in a partnership with Nationwide’s Private Client team. Private Client now offers Flo by Moen’s Smart Home Solution to our customers, giving them more control in protecting their homes.
We’re also working with our distribution partners to help them develop their digital marketing skills and earn into our industry-leading co-op program so they can reach their customers more effectively and help them sell.
The importance of an inclusive workforce
2020 made clear the need to include the voice of the customer at every level of every business. Insurance is no exception. Carriers and agencies need to do a better job of making sure that all levels of their organizations are inclusive and represent the customers we protect.
To fully understand the needs of our customers and deliver relevant products and solutions, we need to be partners to the communities we protect. I’m proud of Nationwide’s decade-long commitment and humbled by the recognition from FORTUNE, the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index, and many others. But even more rewarding is the impact we’ve seen in our efforts with partners like Latina Style Magazine and Black Enterprise to develop campaigns that provide resources and educational tools to help minority small businesses grow and thrive.
Nationwide is committed to making sure the people, needs, and values of our customers and distribution partners are well represented within our workforce. I’m excited about our recruiting efforts bringing new talent into the insurance industry. We’re offering training and development for all of our talent to prepare them to meet the ever-evolving needs of our dynamic industry. This year, we’ll be extending our expertise in this area to our distribution partners through webinars and resources.
Every year brings its own set of unique challenges, and 2021 will be no different. I’m confident that by being consistently dependable and committed to understanding and meeting customers’ needs through innovation and inclusion, together we can successfully help our customers navigate whatever the new year brings.
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