Google can be awesome for Insurance

So I stumbled onto this article with the headline “Google’s entry into insurance should frighten agents”  I am not sure that one statement could be further from the truth.

Disclaimer; I was not in the room when these comments were made.  Like most articles there is limited space available and the reporter must choose what to write.

FACT: The insurance industry is old and not nearly as technically advanced as most of the places you spend money. Think of Amazon and Zappos

FACT: Google has a lot of money and a lot of smart people.

FACT: They are buying a pretty cool operation, The Coverhound, with a reasonable base in place.

Now for the educated opinion that I can back up with facts and actual experience.  If you are running a lean or even relatively cost efficient operation, have taken care of people and have hired correctly you will MAKE MORE money with Google in the insurance space.  If any of those three pieces are not going well you have a small window to fix them.   Also, technology improvements may be on the way soon.  The problem here is if you have not adapted to technology along the way it may be to much for you.  Google may just fill in where many of the larger brokers in the P&C world have failed consumers and the industry.  Maybe their muscle can force the meaningul and easy change that can happen almost over night. So what exactly is there to be afraid of?  Consumer buying patterns have changed.  You should have and could still be a part of this.  That next level of drive by the mile and telematics will come but you have 2-5 years still to take advantage of things.

Then I read this quote;

Berkley said, “We are a bunch of cheap son of a guns. We don’t spend on anything. We’re just bums, companies and agents both. We don’t invest in the future. … We have these meetings and talk about what to do. It’s always in response to what’s going on around us instead of sitting here and saying — ‘Where is the world going to go? What kinds of things should we be doing? How to make it better?’”

Now lets put some context to this; he runs a company with 6.4 billion in revenue.  That company may be in as good as a position as any to capitalize and likely double revenues, if they want.  Sad but predictable that an old insurance company would think this way when obvious solutions are right in front of them.  Also sad since with their market share they are in a position to force technological change and choose not to.  Maybe it’s time for Berkley to be a leader instead of a talker.

Bottom line is this; if you are an agent you should be THRILLED that Google is likely entering the world of insurance.   It is an awesome opportunity that if you want it to will increase your profits, insurance company profits and make for a better consumer experience.

How often should I review my insurance?

Well, most people see their family doctor once a year for a checkup.  Most people do their taxes each year and have a review with their accountant.  If you have health insurance you probably review that at open enrollment each year.  As part of a sound financial plan, all of your insurances should be reviewed each year.  Why?  Are your discounts and coverage adequate?  Could you do better?  Is your personal information up to date?

Want another reason?

Insurance rates go in cycles, the industry refers to these as soft and hard markets.  What does this mean to you?  It means if you can review your plan every twelve months you should.  If you go any longer than 18 months you will likely miss a savings opportunity for your family.  One of the worst parts about being an agent is reviewing a plan that has not been reviewed in 2-5 years or more and finding huge savings that could have just been nice savings.  How long were they overpaying for?

Update 5/11/2015

This is still true.  If anything, since this post was first published this is even more important.  The personal insurance market has become even more slanted towards the consumer.  More accurately, the consumer has become more self-reliant, technology has improved and the interest in value over price has increased.

Has the timetable stayed the same?  YES.  To be honest, if someone really wanted to they could max out the savings by lowering this timetable to every six months.  BUT keep in mind that any savings you may find will likely not match up with the current time it takes to switch.

So?  Stick to the 12-18 months and understand that until the available technology improves this is a great plan.  Until the time it takes to switch goes down, the number of times to switch in a time period shouldn’t be any higher than it is now.