If you were born just a few years ago, and started to understand the world today, then wearing a mask to go outside wouldn’t seem like a very big deal. And the fact that your parents were always around and that you connected with people in other houses by phone or computer would seem normal, too.
You would have no other experience to compare it to.
I started thinking about this, oddly, when I was listening to Nationwide P/C COO Mark Berven respond to a question from Bold Penguin’s Ilya Bodner during an interview for InsureTech Connect about innovation in late May. Berven talked about virtual inspections that Nationwide is doing these days to replace physical ones during COVID-19 lockdowns. Bodner, a veteran of the insurance industry, shared that he had recently filed his first-ever property claim—a flooded basement—and was uncomfortable with the prospect of a stranger walking through his house to inspect the damage.
Berven said videos uploaded by customers, together with estimation software, are fast becoming parts of claims adjuster toolkits. “We did ask customers to do a little bit of work, [but they] didn’t have to wait to schedule an appointment. They didn’t have to drive that car to a shop to get that estimate. They didn’t have to wait for the property inspector to come out.” And they probably got their claims handled quicker.
I wondered: How does the customer see it? Too much work? Better? faster?
Maybe the digital experience is efficient, or even good enough to Tweet about, but the young driver reporting his first accident has no point of reference for a five-minutes-and-done claims experience.
If normal is now, how do we get better?
The question applies beyond insurance claims, sales and underwriting innovation to all facets of our lives—interacting with our families, leading our teams, managing ourselves. Focusing just on claims, we have a different example.
For small businesses waking up to the fact that insurance doesn’t cover their business interruption losses, their first experience is horrible. If normal is now, how do we get better?
Businesses can’t reopen without worrying about the threat of another economic shutdown this year. While industry advocates say the risk-transfer problem is big and needs time to solve, businesses don’t have the time to wait.
It has been nice to hear leaders talk about the speed at which physical claims handling innovation is happening—with better customer experience as the focus. But we need to reinvent a better normal across the spectrum of what we do today—and what we don’t do.
I can’t help but feel sad today about how things seem to change us—and then they don’t.
When I was a kid, the fact that teenagers and 20-somethings who I looked up to were protesting about the war in Vietnam, about Civil Rights, about the environment seemed normal. And then there weren’t any protests anymore, for a while.
With hope for lasting change, I’ll end with some random things I’ve heard in recent weeks about reinventing normal.
“Over the course of any given day, we can encounter an inflection point, a situation that suggests we need to take action. But often we don’t see it. Or we might see it, but we don’t have the courage to act.”
“We’re going to have to explore solutions that go beyond what our current model is around post-loss indemnification and instead drive mitigation to maybe bring losses to a level within our capacity to absorb as an industry.”
(Sherman Power, the U.S. ReSolutions Leader at Aon, speaking at the Casualty Actuarial Society Spring meeting about the systemic nature of industry losses from COVID-19. See related article, “Diverging Views: Is COVID a One-Off Cat or Not?“)
“This is a never look back moment of accelerating into the future.”
(Sean Burgess, Chief Claims Officer of USAA, speaking at the April 30 Insurance Nexus by Reuters conference, “Claims Like Never Before: Agility, Leadership and Collaboration for a Seamless Claims” available on YouTube.)
This article is the Editor’s opening letter to the July/August print edition of Carrier Management.