Insurance Industry (Mis)Perceptions 1.0

April 11, 2019

We have a perception issue and we need to fix it. 

I’m the non-insurance person in the room here.  

I have a checkered past with stints at several big corporations (Turner Broadcasting, E&Y, Nationwide) in a variety of roles, with the usual “how did you get into insurance” story – by accident.  

Although I’ve been in the industry for 20+ years, I don’t consider myself to be an insurance professional. I’m a consumer of insurance and my career path had given me a great perspective othe industry. Like most of us, I've grown to love our industry and noble purpose it serves in the lives of insureds. But we also know we have a perception issue in our industry, caused in large part by advertising and marketing ploys to drive consumer shopping behaviors.

 

Insurance is not a product — it’s a promise.  

I was the guy at my previous role (at a local large carrier) following around our “VP of Product” to show me our “products.”  Show me the factory, with the rows of workers manufacturing our product, from raw materials.

It’s not there. It’s vaporware.

We’re not selling a product. We're selling a promise. It's something consumers can’t touch, smell, taste, or hear. We’re selling the invisible.  

Agents are selling one company’s ability to deliver on a promise (to handle the claim as they said they would) to consumers who, ultimately, hope they never need it. And while they know they need to pay for it, they don’t understand the math behind the pricing, so they struggle to trust anyone involved. And agents must bridge that understanding gap.  

That's the value of the independent insurance. They build trust through transparency and authentic advice. They remove the mystery and create a sense of comfort for consumers. That’s one tough job!  
 

Insurance doesn’t “protect” — it restores.  

I loathe the fact that our industry portrays insurance as “protection.”  

It’s not protection. Bad things happens, regardless of how much insurance we buy. If I want to protect my house, I should cut down all the trees around it, put it on stilts, remove all the electrical wiring, and build a dome over it.  

Insurance merely transfers the risk of having to pay for restoration from damages from the consumer to the insurance company. But "transferring risk" is a complicated concept to market to the average consumer, so we say insurance “protects” us instead.  

It’s a farce. It’s an insurance agent’s advice, knowledge, and expertise that puts consumers in the best position to be kept whole in the occurrence of a bad event. Because no matter how hard we try, bad stuff can and will happen. And when it does, we simply want our life restored to the way it was before (sans life insurance). An agent’s advice at the time of the sale assures consumers of that.  

It’s about restoration, not protection.  
 

The “free quote” 

First, I’d like to meet the person who actually paid for a quote.

I know the notion of a “quote” is a price-driven concept consumers can wrap their heads around. But most consumers, like me, don’t want a quote. I want advice.  

I want an expert who doesn’t just know the forms and sections of a policy contract. I want someone who cares enough to explain to me “why” they recommend certain coverages. As a consumer of insurance, I want to know what I'm paying for, and what I can expect if I ever need it.  

That takes someone who has the empathy, emotional intelligence, and intellectual curiosity to get to know me personally and what's important to me.  

I don’t want an agent; I want an advisor. An agent sells something. An advisor cares. An agent is a term driven by the carriers, because of their contractual relationship. An advisor is a term driven by knowledge, caring and relationship.  

Guys like me can tell the difference, and so can the rest of your customers. 

What are you doing today to correct the misperceptions of our industry?  

Doing your part to correct these misperceptions of the insurance industry will help independent agents gain customer trust and grow agency sales while improving your community’s insurance experience. With our long list of carrier markets, specialized classes, and agency resources, Indium makes it easy for agents to do their part as trusted insurance advisors.


 

Chad Eddy, MBA, is the CEO and fearless leader at Indium. He has more than 20 years of multifaceted, multi-industry experience. In addition to serving independent agents, Chad is passionate about spending time with his family, playing and watching hockey, listening to good music, reading, and raising money for cystic fibrosis research.