client

agency

CARRIER

carrier of choice

commercial insurance ux RESEARCH

We were invited to research and understand the cultural, behavioral and cognitive aspects that influence the relationship between agents and our client (a Fortune 500 Insurance company) and thereby enable them to become the carrier of choice for a particular market segment within commercial lines insurance. 

My Role

Alongside the lead anthropologist, I planned, designed, executed and synthesized this research which took place in 3 locations - LA, Chicago and New York. Following the synthesis, we identified opportunity spaces in the market for our client to explore further in order to move the needle for their business & become the Carrier of Choice for agents in the middle market space.

the challenge: Opportunity finding

Looking into the work lives and processes of Agents/Brokers and Underwriters (from insurance agencies) to try and understand why our client was not the carrier of choice for middle market commercial lines insurance. 

Although this project started out as an operations consulting projects, it morphed into experience research as our client was open to the idea of evaluating their currently tools and suggesting a plan for digital transformation of the existing process.

RESEARCH ROUND 01

Watching focus groups conducted by the client's market research group with insurance agents, we were able to understand one side of the story. We pieced together the process and also gathered two initial themes which we to expand upon in the following phase of ethnographic research. 

TEAMS

Agents viewed underwriters from the carrier side as a part of their own team and felt a combined sense of ownership over the deal/insurance purchase but were finding that the aptitude of certain underwriters was not up to the expected standard.

RELATIONSHIPS

The opinion that agents had about the carrier were almost entirely contingent upon their relationship with the individual underwriter they worked with. 

PROCESS: FROM NEGOTIATIONS TO SELLING A POLICY

This is a quick representation of the complex web that is the commercial lines insurance sales chain. While it appears to be a complex multi-touchpoint process, what we learnt is that it is still a human-centered business

RESEARCH ROUND 2

We conducted 1-on-1 contextual interviews with agents and underwrites over 3 geographies to further explore the agent-underwriter relationship and place it in context of the processes and technology that they use to get the job done. We sat with them in their work environment and watched as they took us through their daily routines, their software and tools and their thoughts.

/ 6 Agents  / 3 Underwriters

/ Chicago  / Philadelphia  / Irvine

/ 45-90 minutes with each participant

indicative PERSONAS

During the course of this research, agents and underwriters across our client’s network brought  their viewpoints on their process, tools and the human element that combine to form their experience. Through discussion and observation, three personas emerged as the most important markets for our client to pursue in the future. 

02  FUTURE AGENCY

Agencies are reinventing themselves – cube farms are being replaced by digitally enabled collaborative workspaces. There is a need to understand and adapt to these new agencies in order to become the carrier of choice.

03  DYNAMIC PROPOSALS

The shift needs to happen from traditional printed proposals to dynamic digital proposals, both on the front and back end. There needs to be a way to keep up with fast-paced decision making and on-demand market needs and the only way to cater to this growing need is to go natively digital.

04  information design

Reduce error by providing a consistent and best-of-breed design of quotes, binders, and policies.

05  visibility & transparency

There is a need for a tracking system in place, there should be room for the underwriter to choose and edit their preferences. Some options may be automating the process of real-time tracking with ability for manual overrides and creating a space for open dialogue and tracking between the carrier and the agency to help the process flow smoothly, especially during periods of waiting/silence.

OPPORTUNITIES IDENTIFIED

01  client story

During the course of this research, agents and underwriters across our client’s network brought  their viewpoints on their process, tools and the human element that combine to form their experience. Through discussion and observation, three personas emerged as the most important markets for our client to pursue in the future. 

pain points in the current process

We used a beautiful WeWork space to synthesize the information in hand. Audiotapes on repeat, searching for quotes, pouring through notes and post-its and of course multiple cups of tea & coffee later...

We found some interesting patterns in the things that people said and did. The process chart describes the pain points in detail but overall, we noticed that the relationship between the underwriter and agent is broken by the convoluted process and the new predictive models which have a steep learning curve. We realized that this is an industry with an incredible amount of tacit knowledge (all stored away with the underwriters and agents in their heads) and this knowledge needs to be more transparent in order for the process to run smoothly and to build trust among the teams involved.

Innovative

Tech-adopter

Trend-setter

Traditional

Old-school

Trend-follower

Innovative Leader

"As a broker, we can never say no."

Functional Follower

"I don't like online quoting. With that, there's no relationship with the underwriter.

Passionate Leader

"We are selling them[clients] a customized program and a collaborative experience."

Philadelphia

2 Agents

chicago

2 Agents, 2 underwriters

irvine

2 Agents, 1 underwriter

PEOPLE

Agent-Underwriter relationship

PROCESS

New business and renewal processes

TECHNOLOGY

Digital touch-points in the process

BRAND

Perception 

Upon talking to both agents and underwriters, we found signals that fell into one of the following themes:

NDA

PROTECTED

synthesis

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