If you did, it would be a good start to providing clients with a more unique buying experience.
The tricky part is that you rarely get to dictate what questions need answers.
But the conversation has to start somewhere and the more pressure we can apply to it, the better.
Because it's going to be hard to survive in a system that values "nice to know" over customer experience.
Andrew Correll, Host of the Insurance Requirements Podcast, talks about how underwriting can improve and the companies that are willing to do it.
Full Episode Transcript
00:02 Mr. Andrew Correll, how are you doing today sir?
00:04 Pretty good Joey, how about yourself?
00:07 Andrew, I'm doing all right. I have to know before we get into it and this is an important question, what's something that you felt before, pre-pandemic that was borderline questionable in terms of sanitary behavior? Now, amidst the pandemic what is something that is just completely unacceptable now that you still see in terms of just sanitary behavior?
00:30 I was a chronic face toucher. My glasses, I'm always adjusting them or maybe taking something off my nose. That is one of those things where yeah pre-pandemic it was something that I thought about and then now with the focus on washing hands, not touching your face, it's something that now I'm just off of cold turkey.
01:00 Yeah. I mean, definitely the hand to the mouth, any sort of excessive touching, but for me, I don't know about you, it's loose silverware. Before it was pretty barbaric to me but even now it's like, "Dude, you're going to just hand me some silver in a paper bag? What are we doing here? Come on [crosstalk 00:01:17] the situation?"
01:18 I need it sealed in plastic now, please. Thank you.
01:21 Yeah, sealed in plastic and maybe even just put some Purell over the top of it so it's nice and sanitary when I open it. But in all honesty, I mean, in terms of what are you looking at? I mean, because you have some conversations across the industry, what are you seeing in terms of maybe behavior that has been traditionally installed in insurance and you're focused on trying to look at things differently? What's something that you see that has maybe made that night and day shift to where we're a little more aware of things than we were before based on our current environment?
01:53 Yeah. I would say shifting behaviors has been around the face-to-face meeting. Insurance has primarily been an in-person, shake hands, sit down at the same table, type of business when it comes to insurance agencies and companies looking for insurance. And now with where we're at having to make that shift, some agencies had been doing that pre pandemic and were already starting to work more digital interactions into their sales cycles. And back in March, for a lot of the country it shifted very quickly where in in-person meetings were no longer allowed and seeing the transition and just the increased comfort level around doing business virtually and not being on the golf course at a lunch in a boardroom has been really great to see.
02:58 Yeah, it's that whole shifting the arena of where relationships are built and nurtured and things. And for me, it was always you might have an agent that was receptive to the ideas but even then on the client side of things they still had a ways to go in terms of wanting to maybe get on a video call with their agent. And so, I think both sides are now maybe equally prepared to handle that. Is there some sort of acceleration or I guess best practice to maybe maintaining those relationships more effectively?
03:29 Yeah. I would say just more open communication, almost over communication to a degree. Before so much communication was done via nonverbal communication, reading intonations and things like that. And so now just being more overt with what you're communicating, thinking more about how that might sound to somebody on the other end, has been really key. And so, there's been a learning curve for everybody I've had the luxury of working remote for the last five years but some of my colleagues had been in the office every day. And so, being there to talk them through that transition has been helpful and yeah it's just been trial and error. I think everyone's been just a lot nicer these days, more understanding with just everything that's been going on, having kids at home, having the family in one place. So, I think the level of friendship and warmth has really helped as well.
04:45 Yeah. I mean, you have a lot of experience in the underwriting world is that correct? I mean, you've definitely seen your fair share of things. What's going on over there? What do you anticipate in terms of just the appetite, the overall way people are viewing business and what agents are bringing, what carriers are wanting and where maybe might be some interesting places to pay attention to that agents maybe have neglected in the past?
05:12 So, I've noticed a lot of disruption in the marketplace. My expertise has been on the technology side. So I work primarily with technology focused companies and with that on their errors and emissions and cyber liability coverage. And so, I've seen a lot of disruption in the marketplace with the really steep increase in ransomware and other cyber events both from a frequency perspective, number of occurrences that have been happening. Every day, almost every week, you're seeing something new in the news about another company, another entity, another government falling victim to an attack. And then also just the amount of dollars that those ransomware events are costing. And so, that's causing a number of carriers to either retreat on limits that they're offering, maybe requiring more stringent controls, different terms of conditions, higher retentions, et cetera.
And so from the agency perspective it's now more important than ever for insurance agents to be involved and knowledgeable about what makes a good risk. And by that, I mean attitude and just a mindset towards risk management. Before you would hear some sentiment around, "Well, I've got insurance coverage so I'm good, right?" We're quickly seeing now that that insurance it's a backstop but it's not a form of control. At your home you wouldn't say, "Well, I've got homeowners insurance so I don't need smoke detectors or fire extinguishers or an escape plan because insurance is going to take care of me." That would be almost foolish. And so, we're starting to see that carry over into the ENO and the cyber world where it's more important now for the agents to know and be that trusted advisor to say, "Hey, here's what I'm seeing in the marketplace. Here's how we can make you a better risk to find those better terms and conditions, the pricing that's available." The insurance market still wants to ensure good risks and it will be incumbent upon everybody to work together to find a better solution for that.
07:42 Yeah you mentioned when you see a lot of claims go up then you start to have the conversation, you never really want to say the words under priced insurance to anybody because people might get violent with that sort of response but in reality that is the case. You find that out pretty quickly when things start to happen. And I feel like that's an area that it's definitely true. Do you think that there's some maybe reckoning in terms of where pricing is and what people need to start to expect in terms of insurance when they do see a large number of claims and maybe from the agent side of things communicating that a little bit better and maybe setting expectations like, "Listen, this is the actual dollars and cents and the nuts and bolts of this."
08:21 I believe so. Yeah. I've seen that across the marketplace over the last 12 to 18 months where the new business that I'm seeing is facing a 10 to 15 to 20% increase in pricing and that is not well our sales went up so our insurance is going to be more expensive. These are just pure rating factors that are going into that. So yeah, I definitely feel that in the marketplace. And the agents that I've worked with primarily are really good on working with insurance carriers that understand how to price this business appropriately. Because there have been some carriers that saw the writing on the wall 12 to 18 months ago. Back then you would hear, "Oh, you guys are too expensive. We're going with these other markets, we're getting the same coverage relatively speaking and it's so much more affordable."
And so now fast forward those same carriers are not taking the types of increases, the types of drastic action that others in the market are seeing. And so agents that understand that and are working with their insureds to see the value in what's brought not just in the insurance coverage but what kind of add on benefit benefits are available. Are there people that they can work with to make them a better risk, increase their risk management posture? Is their claims department experienced when it comes to a cyber event? More so than in other lines of business when a cyber event occurs time is money. The quicker that you get working on that, the better the outcome for everybody. And so now we're starting to see with the disruption in the marketplace who really knows tech and cyber the best and we're starting to see business flow to those carriers.
10:35 I don't know if you have an answer to this, I'm going to give it a shot anyways Andrew, but is there something as an underwriter that you felt like if you could just say this to the client, like skip through the agent this is the thing that, is there something like that you felt like you were held back on in the communication chain that maybe wasn't going all the way to the source that it needed to go to? Is there something that you really just felt needed to be said that never got there?
10:58 Yeah. The conversations that I've had with both agents and insureds has always been around housekeeping. If you can mitigate the risk as best as possible, because in this space there is no true prevention. These measures and defenses that you put in place are similar to your home. You have an alarm system. It's not foolproof but it's much better than having nothing in place. You become a bigger target without these controls in place. So having that conversation that cyber security is not an expense, it's an investment in your future. Some people that look at that as, "Well, they're making me install a firewall, they're making me do this," and see it as an expense those are the ones who have the toughest time recovering from an event because their recovery plans are not tested.
But the insureds who have a really solid stance on taking this seriously, looking at it like it's an investment in their company and their future and not just something that somebody is making them buy generally have the best outcomes. And so the conversations that I've had, where that really resonates with everybody involved, those are the ones that if they do have a claim their recovery time is drastically reduced. Versus somebody who just said, "Well, I've got insurance in place so that's good enough." Those are the ones that can really feel the outcomes of that.
12:37 Speaking of other conversations you also like to talk about forward thinking insurance on the internet as well in the form of podcasts which I happen to be a fan of as well. I mean, tell me about those conversations. I mean, what stands out from that in comparison to the day-to-day underwriting thing? What do you see as like hey really we need to get here, we need to do this. This is important, we need to be paying attention.
12:58 Yes. So I've been most happy to just have confirmation that insureds, especially tech startups, really care about security, really care about risk management. I've yet to talk to a business owner that didn't want to do good, that they care about being a good business and staying in business for the long haul. I've also heard that the insurance buying experience by and large is not something that they would like to see continue, right? Tech startups build fast, they build digitally, and they utilize data that's available from multiple sources. And so, that's what they're used to and when you go to buy insurance that experience doesn't always line up. There are 10, 15 page PDF documents that you're filling out sometimes per line of business. The turnaround time is days if not weeks. And so, in those conversations I've heard wanting to work with agencies and insurance carriers that value that digital transformation really honing in on what is needed to know versus nice to know, creating experiences that are streamlined and available online. And also just rethinking the way that insurance questions are asked and tailoring them to a specific risk.
So, if you look at some insurance carriers applications they're going to be the same ones that they use for an enterprise company that has a thousand and startups that maybe have five. But you and I know and I think everybody would understand that those two companies are fundamentally different and to have them go through the same experience is that the best version of it or is there a way that we can tailor that to a specific company and understand really what is driving their exposures and their risks and formatting the questions to address those.
15:23 Yeah we're definitely big fans of eliminating or limiting underwriting questions. Do you think, is there a point of no return? How far can we push it in terms of what information we truly need? I mean, what have you seen, where does it get too risky versus again streamlining that process?
15:39 Right. So I think it boils down to truly understanding where claims come from. So when you think of cyber security one of the fundamentals that I see is enabling multi-factor, two-factor authentication. It's not a perfect pill and it will not prevent 100% of claims but the claims that we do see arise in this space, many of them could have been prevented or at least mitigated some of the severity on those so questions like that. But when you get to questions like how many records do you hold, if I know that I'm underwriting a business-to-business firm that doesn't do business with the general public, that doesn't post any personally identifiable information, do I really need to ask that question? Is it getting to a fundamental risk exposure of that company? And if the answer is no, then that is a type of question that I can erase from my application.
And so having a dynamic application, there are platforms out there that can skim an insurance website and give you a good idea of what they do. And so, if I can get that ahead of time and I know that well maybe they don't have any exposure to healthcare or they're not an e-commerce site, there's a lot of questions that I could probably eliminate. And so asking yourself, "Well, if those tools are available maybe we should be looking at utilizing some of those things to answer some of the questions that we have before we even talk to the insured." And only asking them things specific to their existence and their experience that will help us better craft an insurance policy for them.
17:45 Are you optimistic that we will be soon living in that dynamic future?
17:49 I am. I'm seeing a lot of companies moving towards that. So here in Austin, a good buddy of mine, Dave Perez, runs an insurance agency called Lumen Insurance Technologies. And so he focuses only on technology startups and he has crafted his agency experience from the bottom up with that experience in mind, gathering data that is available from public sources, making their application process seamless, having them fill out something online and only once that's able to port that information over to the various applications that he might be using for different insurance carriers.
And then companies like Vouch Insurance are really, re-imagining how technology startups buy insurance and work through that process and what's really needed to get to the real, the underlying causes and only asking those things that are really required rather than questions that might be nice to know as an underwriter. I'm guilty of that on the underwriting side, I like to know everything. But it's a discipline to understand, "Well, maybe I don't need to know that so I'm just going to have to trust my instinct and understand that these are the five or six things that I do need to know," and focus on those.
19:17 All right Andrew, I've got three more questions for you sir. And most simply what's one thing that you hope you never forget?
19:23 One thing I hope I never forget, paint it forward. When I came into the insurance industry, I didn't have any experience in insurance. I studied economics in college and came out and I could either go to graduate school for more economics education or insurance was something that piqued my interest. So I got into insurance and had the most amazing mentors right out of the gate. And so that taught me that I want to do that now that I'm eight to 10 years in my career now never forgetting that I got here because people took it upon themselves to mentor me and educate me. And so never forgetting that is something that I'm focused on.
20:11 All right. On the other side of that, what's one thing you still have yet to learn Andrew?
20:15 You name it. There's always things that you can get better at. We just talked about need to know versus nice to know. Those are things that I haven't perfected yet. As the risk landscape evolves there's always something to learn. 24, 36 months ago, ransomware we knew it was, it wasn't to the scale that it is today. And so there's always something new to learn in that space and who knows what we're going to be talking about in another 24 to 36 months, probably something that we either aren't paying attention to or hasn't even been thought of yet. So, the sky's the limit there.
21:01 All right Andrew last question, if I were to hand you a magic wand of sorts to reshape, change, alter, speed up, make better, use whatever adjective you like, insurance in any way, shape or form what is that thing? Where is it going and what is it doing?
21:16 I think that utilizing more and more publicly available data, implementing solutions that are around machine learning, artificial intelligence to make the underwriting process easier. And so as an underwriter, you may be thinking like, "Well, that's just going to eliminate your job isn't it?" Not necessarily, there's still a human element that's needed. And utilizing these types of solutions allows me to focus on what my human brain does the best and eliminates those tasks that are better suited for computers. And so, continued adoption and moving toward a model where humans can utilize their brain to do what it does best that's where I ultimately see insurance and underwriting going.
22:11 Andrew this has been fantastic so I'm going to leave it right there.