Think bigger than faster horses

Rob Evans | CEO of Paymentshield
6th August 2019
Rob Evans, Managing Director of Paymentshield
"Smooth isn’t likely to just mean ‘quick’. It may mean having one integrated journey that covers the mortgage, protection and GI."

It’s always been important to stay connected to your customers, listening to their feedback and insights to help plan and prioritise for the future. And, at Paymentshield, we constantly engage with advisers to understand what they need from us.

But listening involves judgement too – as Henry Ford said: “If I asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”.

It is often the debate stimulated by a question that generates the real understanding, not the answer itself. Take this question we asked advisers recently:

86% of advisers say a smooth quote journey would encourage them to sell more home insurance

Where the debate got interesting here is what advisers might mean by ‘smooth’.

For some, asking as few questions as possible to get a price is the answer – they just want a faster horse.

I don’t think anyone would argue that asking lots of questions (a lot of which you’ve already asked before in the mortgage fact find) is a great idea. Also, there are some questions that really don’t make a lot of difference to the price the customer pays, so why are we asking them? GI providers and insurers have been slow to find a solution to this, but it is now happening.

External property data sources are increasingly available, and they mean that we can calculate indicative prices with almost no customer input. Just name, postcode, date of birth and there’s your price. On the face of it, that solves the problem, right?
No, not really – it may help generate the customer interest in GI earlier in the process, which is great, but it isn’t really solving the greater problem of making the journey more efficient and effective for the adviser or customer.

The data sets are good and getting better, but they are not complete or 100% accurate. That means GI providers have to make assumptions where the data is missing or doesn’t exist, and customers still have to validate all the data to make sure it’s right or the insurers won’t accept it. There is value to the customer validating assumptions, as it means claims are less likely to be rejected down the line when, for example, when a 5-bed bungalow turns out to be a 3-bed semi-detached (this is a real example!).

Also, claims history probably has the biggest single impact on price in home underwriting. In motor insurance, there is a claims database that insurers and providers can access, meaning they don’t have to ask about past claims. That doesn’t exist in home insurance and so customers still must tell us if we’re going to get them the right price for them.

The upshot? You may get a quote quickly, but the overall time to get to the quote isn’t that different.

So how exactly do we solve the problem and deliver a smooth quote journey? My simple answer is we can’t – there is no one size fits all, magic bullet solution.

The current dash to external data and presenting an initial indicative quote is part of the answer. But what if, like most advisers at a Paymentshield research group earlier this year, you want to ask questions up front and build rapport with your customer first rather than validate assumptions after? For them, smooth isn’t likely to just mean ‘quick’. It may mean having one integrated journey that covers the mortgage, protection and GI.

I think the solution is a platform that understands that different customers, advisers, firms or networks may want different approaches – a GI platform that combines technology with insight and flexibility to create the right option for you and your clients.

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