Survey results suggest we should think twice about taking insurance services away from the telephone and putting them online, finds Tim Bevan of Insolvency Risk Services.
Any business accepts, no matter the extent to which service is the differentiating factor between products in their marketplace, that providing the best possible service to customers is important. It’s a truism, but worth establishing as an anchor point to any discussion on the use of technology.
After all, with technology evolving at such a rapid pace, it can be tempting to get carried away and assume that every change offered is a beneficial innovation.
But as suppliers to a market, can we always be sure that our technological decisions – especially those we have made on the basis of driving greater efficiency – are having a positive effect on how we are delivering our products to clients?
In the insurance world, online delivery already supports many commodities, such as private motor and household insurance. Data required is easy to obtain with finite variables – but what happens with products where the information required cannot be completed within set fields or tick boxes?
The unlimited scope of insolvency appointments and the comprehensive information required by underwriters would suggest online trading is a challenge – unless, of course, underwriters are happy for the product to be commoditised. To achieve that could mean restricting the options available to insolvency practioners so as to make them manageable, but that threatens dilution of the product and therefore its ultimate benefit to the user.
On the flip side, there are many areas of the insolvency world already benefitting from technological changes to insurance, such as bankruptcies and bonds online. The Insolvency Service also recently announced it intends to make it easier for IPs to use electronic communications, placing notices on websites rather than sending letters to creditors.
So what does the insolvency professional think?
From the results of the survey we conducted in conjunction with Insolvency Today, it appears that there is a real split in opinion over buying insurance cover over the internet. It seems that people are open to the idea but have not yet committed to it: 66% would consider it at least in some circumstances, while 24% definitely would.
A logical conclusion would be to presume this is because people prefer to have a relationship with an actual person. However, on asking that very question, fewer than half of respondents said a lack of direct interaction would be a worry for them. It turns out that people do want to speak to an insurance advisor after all!
In all seriousness though, when uncertainty occurs, a phone call can make things clearer.
We also asked about the next generation of insolvency professionals, and whether they would depend on technology more than personal contact.
The results showed that nearly 60% disagreed (20% strongly) with this statement.
So while not totally conclusive, it is safe to say that people in the insolvency world aren’t yet ready for technology to take over their insurance lives just yet – and that personal relationships are just as important as they always were.
For further information:
Tim Bevan, client service manager, Insolvency Risk Services
Tel: 0115 908 4999