Do you understand what insurance consumers want in their insurance buying experience?

Join Ron Berg and Marty Agather as they discuss the future of the insurance consumer journey.

Ron Berg is the Executive Director of ACT (Agents Council on Technology) and stopped by to chat with Agency Nation on his upcoming work group findings on the insurance consumer journey.

The ACT work group findings will help guide the insurance industry’s discussion around how agents find, sell and service the modern insurance consumer.

UPDATE: The ACT Insurance Consumer Journey Report is now available for download here.

Watch our video interview of Ron and Marty’s discussion below:

Download the Transcript


Marty: Howdy. Marty Agather, Agency Nation. I’m here in beautiful Rancho Mirage, California. We’re here with the IIABA winter meeting, and I’m joined today by our guest, Ron Berg from ACT. Ron, say hello, and give people an idea of what you do at ACT.

Ron: Thanks, Marty. I’m Ron Berg. I’m the Executive Director of the Agents Council for Technology. We are an organization within the Big ‘I’ that brings together carriers, agents, and vendors, and works to improve technology workflows, all for the benefit of independent agents.

Marty: Absolutely, that’s great. I’ve been involved with your group for some time. I know that we’re working on some great initiatives.

Ron: Yes.

Marty: Let’s talk about the one that you’re just about to release the results for, and that’s the customer experience working groups. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what those groups have identified and how that’s going to help independent agents and their carriers.

Ron: You bet. You’re correct, Marty. The customer experience work group came out of some direction we put together at the end of 2013 to identify for the benefit of agents, a recommendations document, a checklist, that can be used to identify all of the technology touch points that a consumer experiences and expects from their insurance interaction. That’s in their journey all the way from when they first begin to realize they need insurance to when they start to research insurance, when they reach out to an agent, maybe via a website, via email, and then their experience from a technology standpoint, again, as they purchase the policy, as they go through their renewal, as they’re becoming an advocate and perhaps even writing positive reviews about the agency. It’s identifying all of those technology touch points throughout a consumer’s insurance journey.

Marty: So, once we’ve identified those steps, then what are we trying to do to help the agent and the carrier to understand how to make that experience better for the consumer?

Ron: What we did, Marty, with the work group is, once we identified the width and breadth of those steps across commercial lines and personal lines, we winnowed that back down to a document that very clearly can be used by the agent to create a strategic plan for their website, for electronic signature, for real time quoting, and for access to policies. So, each one of these recommendations staged throughout their consumer, and then client’s, journey will tell them very succinctly what it is, why they need to take action, what action they need to take, and then with links to resources on things like creating a mobile adaptable website, utilization of electronic signature, things like that.

Marty: Excellent. I know that those are areas that ACT has also done a ton of work in, right?

Ron: Yes, absolutely.

Marty: When we talk about that consumer experience journey, we learn some interesting things between the commercial lines workflow and the personal lines workflow. Why don’t you share a little bit of that with us.

Ron: Yeah. Again, Marty, when we put the work group together, we spent a great deal of time with some great representatives from carriers, vendors, association reps, Trusted Choice – thank you, and agents and brokers mapping out all those touch points. There were a ton of them, so we really had to draw it back in. What we started to focus on was what is the difference between those consumer, and then client, touch points in the commercial lines space versus the personal lines space. Obviously, there are differences when you look at the personal lines consumer that’s doing auto insurance shopping versus a commercial lines consumer or client that wants to get a BOP policy, or anything along those lines. There are some differences.

We found, interestingly enough, that many of them are the same, how they reach out by doing their research, looking for an agency that is ranked highly with SEO, some of the things that Trusted Choice helps with for agency websites, with search engine optimization, with leads, things like that. Our end document will be kind of a combined checklist recommendations document that combines those personal and commercial lines recommendations where they are the same and then identifies the ones that are unique for commercial lines for personal lines.

Marty: Fantastic. What will the final document be that will be delivered that will be actionable by the agency or the carrier that wants to work on these initiatives?

Ron: We’re working on it right now. Actually, it’ll be generated before the February ACT meeting. It will be a very wieldy, very simple but meaty document that, again, is a checklist. As the agent takes this recommendations document, when it looks at things like its website, when it looks at some of the rating functionality, e-signature, agency portal functionality, they’ll be able to look at this document, look at the individual recommendations, and create a checklist. Maybe they’re doing things already with search engine optimization, but they haven’t done anything with their agency website being adaptable to mobile devices. They’ll be able to use that as a very easy and relatively quick checklist to create that strategic technology road map.

Marty: Sounds fantastic. Sounds like it’s going to be a great opportunity for agencies to up their game and to really learn how to service that customer and differentiate themselves from the competition that we want to take business from.

Ron: Absolutely. That’s the idea, keeping that trusted adviser relationship, a core part of what they offer the consumer, and that’s what the consumer wants, versus the direct writers, but also offering those ease of doing business technology advances that the consumer is expecting and getting in those interactions, that you and I are getting in all of our business interactions whether it’s Amazon or banks. That’s what the consumers expect, and that’s how we compete.

Marty: You just said something which obviously has been in the news quite a bit lately, Amazon, the banks. Let’s talk a little bit about data security, because that’s another huge issue and I know it’s something ACT is working on.

Ron: Absolutely. We have a security issues work group within ACT, and it has been active now for a number of years. The work group created another . . . Honk, honk.

Marty: The Air Force has arrived.

Ron: The Air Force has arrived. The Marines have landed. The work group had created a recommendations document a couple of years ago, but so much has changed in the past couple of years with the excessive amount of data breaches with Target, and you mentioned Amazon and other things. Really, we need to take another hard look at the top issues that agencies need to focus on from a security standpoint. That work group right now is working to create a score card that can be used, the top 20 security issues, whether it’s a data breach, whether it’s putting security around the firewalls, whether it’s sharing data with consumers or their customers, and what are all of the security planning that they can put around that.

Marty: Obviously, there are state by state regulations, so is the working group sort of looking to understand what the responsibilities and exposures might be to these organizations?

Ron: Yeah. You know, again, similar to the customer experience work group, we’ve got some great, passionate, engaged experts that are working on the security issues work group. We’re not trying to recreate the wheel. There are experts out there already, either in our industry or outside of our industry.

To your point, Marty, there are documents, Mintz Levin, for example, that breaks down for every state in the United States what constitutes a data breach in that state, what action is the agent required to take if he detects or they detect that they have a data breach, and potentially what are the penalties, the fines that can be levied against them if they do not follow the requirements by that state or federal mandate to let their customers know that there has been a data breach. We have availability to push out access to some really nice things like that for the agents to use.

Marty: Excellent. All critical issues, and those have just scratched the surface of the good work that ACT is doing. Folks, I would like to take this chance to state that if you haven’t had an opportunity to join ACT, if that’s one of your passions, there’s a real opportunity. ACT is doing great work. We need good minds. We need volunteers to help us with these great initiatives. I’m sure Ron would be happy to have any of you join . . .

Ron: Absolutely.

Marty: . . . whether you’re on the agency, vendor, or carrier side. If you want to have an impact in this industry, this is a real opportunity. Ron, I want to thank you very much for coming today. We really appreciate your insights and the good work you’re doing and hope to have you on again.

Ron: My pleasure, Marty.

Marty: Thank you.


The modern insurance consumer journey is different from anything we’ve ever experienced as insurance professionals.

It’s discussions like the one Ron and Marty shared with us that help move the industry-wide conversation forward.

How have you adapted your agency to meet the new insurance consumer journey?

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