The New Year is here, and with it comes new opportunities and challenges for the carrier marketplace. At the end of 2022, we surveyed our readers and asked questions about top industry challenges, biggest opportunities, and areas where they wanted to learn more. The survey results showed some key themes and priorities for our partners across the industry in 2023. Joe Berrios, Managing Director, Carrier Practice, and Jon Stambaugh, SVP – Carrier Practice, sat down to discuss the findings and explore how carriers can set themselves up for success in 2023.
Jon Stambaugh: One of the greatest opportunities carriers expect to see in 2023 is expanding their product lines and expanding into new regions. What are some essential tips carriers should know when expanding their business?
Joe Berrios: Carriers are under tremendous pressure to grow profitably. Beyond having a clear line of sight to the underwriting opportunities associated with expansion, carriers should be focused on differentiating their offering in the eyes of the policyholder and identifying strategies to facilitate the launch. Innovative solutions, such as mobile apps and RMIS reporting, catch the attention of potential new customers. Also, strategic partnerships can manage key functional areas, such as underwriting and claims, and minimize operational risk. Another main area of focus is risk analytics. The capability to conduct a robust trending analysis on program or account performance is a differentiator for carriers looking to expand their business through strategic forecasting and other results-oriented solutions.
Jon: One of the largest challenges carriers face today is attracting and retaining talent. What can carriers do to combat the battle for talent and help put them a step ahead of their competitors?
Joe: The talent crunch throughout our industry is a reality and has inspired organizations to focus not just on recruiting and retention but also on the onboarding experience and career path development. New hires need to understand the opportunities afforded to them across an organization. As their careers evolve, they may want to explore other avenues—we support that and have consciously prioritized those conversations with our people. It is fascinating to look back at where some of our top performers started their careers and where they are today.
In today’s reengineered working environment, carriers need to provide flexible work schedules to better accommodate work–life balance. Promoting a culture of greater collaboration and expanded authority levels helps to promote an attractive working experience for the carrier marketplace and can be a powerful differentiator. As an industry, we have moved away from some of the traditional training grounds, but this is an area that carriers should look to reinvest in. Trainee programs have always been a strong investment for securing the future development of our industry’s talent.
Jon: It’s no surprise that the carrier marketplace has noticed the expectations of its customers changing. The main area of change is that customers require their partners to add value through risk management tools and innovative, technology-based solutions. What can carriers do to address this?
Joe: The claims experience is critical because that is where policyholders and claimants interact with the carrier. Often, third-party administrators (TPA) are asked to provide a competitive advantage that will benefit their partner’s products and services. Common requirements are cutting-edge decision support tools at the desk level that drive superior outcomes and capabilities that enhance the policyholder experience, such as mobile apps and RMIS reporting.
Technology has forever changed how the industry operates. However, carriers should never lose focus on what helped them find success—delivering quality. Quality people, processes, and systems will always win, even in an evolving marketplace. Many policyholders cite the quality and service level as key factors when making renewal decisions or new carrier selections. The buyer experience is a critical element in the development and retention of business for carriers and TPAs.
Jon: With continued growth in the carrier industry, superior service and claimant experience continue to be critical to success. What can carriers do to enhance this?
Joe: First and foremost, listen to the policyholders and claimants. Leverage client satisfaction surveys to request feedback and prioritize improving service. The market is extremely competitive, and one unpleasant experience can become systemic if not identified early. All the innovative tools in the world will not matter if quality and service levels deteriorate.
We have been tracking our Net Promoter Scores (NPS) for several years and take the feedback very seriously. The results of the NPS are shared with various segments of the business that provide vital services to policyholders. In the insurance industry, many of the products and services can be similar in offering or functionality, but superior service, quality, and relationship building are key differentiators in expanding the carrier’s business.
Jon: The most significant focus area respondents wanted to learn about was process improvement through technology. What are some tools carriers can use or implement to enhance their processes?
Joe: The claims industry is focused on leveraging technology to streamline elements of the claims life cycle, including reserving, clinical resource engagement, subrogation, and pharmacy and litigation management. Tools that provide benchmarking comparisons, underwriting performance dashboards, and expert clinical guidance are all assets that carriers should utilize. The objective is always to increase efficiency, improve quality, and close claims. Further, claim intake and reporting have come a long way. Technology has increased the speed of claims reporting and set up, enabling investigation to commence without much back-and-forth with claimants and policyholders. The old industry axiom holds true: a closed claim is a good claim.