The State of the Industry 3 Reasons Insurance Will Never Be the Same Again

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1 The State of the Industry 3 Reasons Insurance Will Never Be the Same Again THE ORGANIC GROW TH SERIES What Happens When Trends Are Ignored Changes in Insurance Consumer Behavior Changes in Carrier Behavior Changes in Risk A Simple Action Plan for Agents by Michael Jans CEO Agency Revolution

2 There are signs now... that the economics of the traditional agent model are beginning to unravel. McKinsey & Co. Executive Summary After McKinsey and Co. released the Agents of the Future: The Evolution of Property & Casualty Insurance Distribution report this summer, the industry reacted predictably. First, fear and panic. My browser lit up with messages from clients and friends who felt anxious and frightened about the projections. Then, industry strongholds (and legitimate advocates) declaring that the outsiders at McKinsey were dead wrong, didn t understand the industry or were issuing opinions, not facts. I have no bias for or against McKinsey. They earned their reputation the hard way. Serious research and analysis. Penetrating insights and observations. (Even when you disagree with them.) You d have a hard time finding a serious business executive who thought they were out of touch or rash. As I read their report, I see their observations based on the very same empirical evidence available to all of us who are serious students of our own industry: Local agents wrote 80% of new Private Passenger Autos (PPA) in They only wrote 63% in Since 2005 the Independent Channel s PPA market share decreased from 34% to 31% (while the Direct Channel increased from 21% to 28%). In 2010, 22% more quote requests were bound online than the previous year. (38.8 million online quote requests were submitted in 2010.) So do these changes in consumer behavior signal the undoing of the agent channel? The short answer is no. And I ll explain why in this report. But does it sound the alarm bell for agents to change, re-strategize and re-assess their value proposition. The short answer is an unequivocal yes. That, too, should become clear in this report. The knee-jerk response of many industry stalwarts - advocates who I count as friends - is reactionary, inadequate and potentially dangerous, causing harm to the very constituency they intend to protect. In this State of the Industry report you will learn about: The nature of disruptive trends and how other industries were revolutionized by innovative technology and trends The substantial and irreversible changes in insurance consumer behavior. The changes in carrier behavior and what this means to local agents. The impact that user based insurance (UBI) will have on the auto insurance industry and 4 trends leading to an accident-free world. Recommended actions and strategic responses for retail agents Copyright 2014 Agency Revolution, Inc. 2

3 What Happens When Trends Are Ignored In this section we ll briefly review examples of how trends have disrupted other industries so that we can recognize similar signals in our own industry. In a world that s changing, standing still means that you re losing ground. Since the introduction of digital technologies, the world economy has witnessed the disruption even the destruction of numerous stable and solid industries and companies that didn t adapt to larger trends. While it s tempting for the small business owner to focus their attention on their day job the consuming tasks of running their day-to-day operation the serious entrepreneur keepsone eye on the world, monitoring trends and global changes. Let s glance at the nature of trends and how the Old Guard mindset affected the leaders in other industries. Hopefully this will serve as a wakeup call for many agents. Case Study: Blockbuster Blockbuster failed to recognize the trends in their industry, and their world got turned upside down. But it could ve turned out much differently for the video store giant. In the early 2000s they turned down a deal that would have allowed them to purchase Netflix for $50 million. But in 2008 their CEO Jim Keyes made the famous quote in an interview with Rick Munarriz at the Motley Fool, Neither Redbox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition. Two years later Blockbuster filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy after losing $1.1 billion. At that time the floundering company s value had diminished to $24 million, while Netflix s value had increased to around $13 billion. And Blockbuster just recently announced that they will be closing their last remaining 300 stores by early January Their story is a perfect example of the effect disruptive trends can have on industry giants. Neither RedBox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition... Jim Keyes, Blockbuster CEO Copyright 2014 Agency Revolution, Inc. 3

4 Case Study: Kodak Another lesson about the importance of monitoring and responding to disruptive trends comes from Kodak. Even though they created a working prototype of the first digital camera in 1975 they failed to see the writing on the wall regarding the move to digital photography. Steve Sasson, the Kodak engineer who invented the digital camera presented it to management they essentially said, that s cute but don t tell anyone about it. Although Kodak would remain healthy until the mid-1990s they would later fail to respond to the consumer s shift to digital photography and filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Kodak failed to recognize the shift from film to digital until it was too late. Their complacency was fueled by the fact that for decades their sales and profits rose. Therefore, management continued to simply refine existing products instead of focusing on innovation. They also suffered from the Old Guard mindset that says, why fix what isn t broken?...it was film-less photography, so management s reaction was, that s cute, but don t tell anyone about it. Steve Sasson, Kodak Engineer Copyright 2014 Agency Revolution, Inc. 4

5 Case Study: General Electric Fortune called Jack Welch the manager of the century. And The Financial Times said GeneralElectric, which Welch was the CEO of from 1981 to 2001, was the world s most admiredcompany in 1996 and Why? Because Welch understood industry trends. In fact Welch said it best, The best executive today is the executive that can see around that corner what s coming. Not when you re in the tunnel and the train is coming right at you. Anybody can make change then. The job is to change before that s necessary, and it s the hardest thing in the world. It s easy to change a company when the fire is burning in the back of the room. It s much to change a company because you smell something or feel something coming at you [in another direction]. And that s the challenge all of you have, is to not sit on what you re sitting on. Always be paranoid that somebody is going to take that away from you. Be thinking about the next jump. It s almost like a chess game, you think the next move before it s upon you. It s often said that Welch s brilliant leadership was not the result of so-called leadership skills or attributes like charisma or inspiration. He made keen strategic decisions based on observable trends. As the head of GE, he sold more than 200 businesses worth over $11 billion, using that capital to purchase 370 strategically located businesses. Jack Welch, Chairman and CEO, General Electric, Be thinking about the next jump. It s almost like a chess game, you think the next move before it s upon you. Jack Welch, General Electric Chairman and CEO Copyright 2014 Agency Revolution, Inc. 5

6 Trend #1: Consumer Behavior Has Changed In this section we ll review key takeaways from major reports by respected names in including: McKinsey & Co., J.D. Power, comscore, A.M. Best, The Independent Insurance Agents of America, and Celent. I encourage you to consider this information with an open mind and resist the urge to draw any conclusions before seeing the data. Clearly, the consumer has gone digital, but that s not the only consumer behavior that s changed. They re also thinking about insurance differently. I ll explain that in the three forces that are driving commoditization (e.g., price is the predominant advertising message today). We ll also review J.D. Power s Overall Index Score which reveals remarkably powerful insights on what it takes to thrive as a retail agent. J.D. Power asked, How likely are you to respond to a price increase? See how many consumers would shop and who would stay no matter what. As you study this data you ll notice some alarming trends. But, if you look closely, you ll also see some silver linings. For example, you ll see consumers are most satisfied when they interact with a local agent who uses emerging technology. So while consumer behavior is changing it does not mean that this is the end of an era for local agents. But you do need to pay attention if you want to be around in 5-10 years. Let s get right into it What Did McKinsey s Report Say? Since McKinsey s report titled, Agents of the Future: The Evolution of Property and Casualty Insurance Distribution is the report that has caused the most controversy let s look at that first:...gradual shift in the value that carriers and consumers...place on...local agents, which is increasingly calling into question what role they will play in the future. They go on to say There are signs now, however, that the economics of the traditional agent model are beginning to unravel Copyright 2014 Agency Revolution, Inc. 6

7 But, lest we think they are a lone voice in the wilderness, let s consider what some other respected sources are saying too:...emerging trends are dramatically reshaping customer expectations in the personal auto insurance market. The internet has dramatically transformed consumer behavior and shifted their interaction with insurance providers, as well as their expectations of quality... So either the most respected industry observers are all passing around the same pitcher of after school Kool-Aid, or, maybe we should pause, take stock and strategize. Local agents still continue to make up the majority of auto insurance purchasing. But as you can see from the chart on the right, overall consumers are shifting towards purchasing auto insurance through less personal outlets. What Do the Numbers Say? You may not agree with McKinsey s implications but that shouldn t stop you from looking at the numbers yourself so you can draw your own conclusion. So let s take a look at some important industry surveys and statistics so you can be armed with the facts and then decide if this industry is really being disrupted or if it s all hype. The Consumer s Gone Digital: They Expect Us To Do The Same A common thread found in these studies is that the consumer has gone digital. More and more people are using the internet to research insurance and get quotes. As you can see in Figure 1, 71% of consumers use the internet to research insurance before making a purchase. Compared to only 6% who use the Yellow Pages Copyright 2014 Agency Revolution, Inc. 7

8 Consumers are not just spending more time researching insurance online, they re also requesting more quotes online. In 2010 there were 38.8 million online quotes submitted, a 21% increase over the previous year. And of those 38.8 million quotes, 72% went to GEICO, E-surance, and Progressive (See Figure 2 below). And what about all those consumers who have not purchased online before? Well, according to comscore in 2012, 35% said they were likely to do so. In 2009 only 30% said they were likely. Clearly, the consumer is rapidly becoming more comfortable doing insurance business online, just as they have become comfortable doing business with other industries online.one last fact worth considering when it comes to the consumer going digital comes from comscore, The number of customers who have only interacted via digital channels in the past 12 months has nearly doubled in size, compared with 2007, and now represent approximately one in six customers. So one in six people ONLY interact with this industry online Copyright 2014 Agency Revolution, Inc. 8

9 How Technology Affects Customer Satisfaction J.D. Power discovered a direct-line connection between the way consumers interact with the industry and their overall level of satisfaction. Further, they identified a powerful connection between consumer satisfaction and client retention, likelihood to recommend and price elasticity. J.D. Power identified five main ways people interact with the insurance industry. They either have: 1. No interaction. 2. Interaction with an agent only. 3. Interaction with an agent who uses emerging technology. 4. Interaction with an agent who uses traditional technology. 5. Interaction with a non-agent only. Then they analyzed the customer satisfaction level of each of those five ways. Can you guess which way had the highest customer satisfaction rating? If you guessed #3, agents who use emerging technology, then you d be right. This was true for both Baby Boomers, who had an overall satisfaction index score of 852, and Generation Y who scored 822. See figure 3 on previous page for more information. J.D. Power said,...emerging trends are dramatically reshaping customer expectations in the personal auto insurance market. In other words, the internet has changed consumer s expectations. Remarkably, their report did not analyze the quality of the communication interactions, but clearly determined that the mere use of emerging technology generated substantial financial benefits for the business Copyright 2014 Agency Revolution, Inc. 9

10 Magic of 852 According to the research, an 852 Customer Satisfaction Index score will, overall, deliver a reward of a 95.5% retention rate. However, a lower end score of 750 will punish the business with a meager 82% retention (see Figure 4). What does that mean for the typical agency? It means that for every million dollars in income, the agency would see an annual bump of $130,000 and a remarkable cumulative 10-year increase of $3,694,595 by increasing their retention from 82% to 95.5%. Maintaining a high Index Score is also important if you want your customers to refer you. For example, the research shows that if you have a score of 852 then roughly 63% of your customers definitely intend to recommend you. But only 29% if your score is 750. So the bottom line is that customers are happy when you use emerging technology and when customers are happy you make more money. I mentioned this quote from A.M. Best earlier but it s worth repeating here, The internet has dramatically transformed consumer behavior and shifted their interaction with insurance providers, as well as their expectations of quality Copyright 2014 Agency Revolution, Inc. 10

11 Trend #2: Carrier Behavior Has Changed (And the Rise of the Direct Channel) Consumer behavior is not the only force that s leading this industry to a tipping point. Local agents also need to be aware of major changes in carrier behavior. One of those changes is what I call carrier personification. There s now an advertising persona most of the major direct channel brands. The reason this is so significant is because it s a signal to the retail side of the industry that carriers are increasingly willing to develop a perceived sense of relationship directly with the consumer and bypass the agency channel altogether Copyright 2014 Agency Revolution, Inc. 11

12 More Carriers: We ll Work Directly With Customers. Their willingness to bypass the local agent is evidenced by the fact that P&C carriers went from spending $1.7 billion in advertising in 2002 to $5.9 billion in 2011 (see Figure 5). That s an astonishing 347% increase in advertising in the last decade. There s no other industry that I m aware of, that has seen such a significant increase in advertising in a single decade. Let s look at who the big ad spenders are (I think you can guess who #1 is). We ll also look at the result of what that type of advertising has done in terms of acquiring market share for the top 10 private passenger auto insurers. We ll also review the auto market distribution by channel so you can see the trends over the last 15 years. And finally we will review the combined ratio by channel in order to determine which channel is most cost effective Copyright 2014 Agency Revolution, Inc. 12

13 Big Ad Spenders (And What It s Done for Them) As you can see in Figure 6 the company who spent the most in marketing in 2011 was GEICO. The direct insurer spent $993.8 million on marketing in 2011 (up 10% from the $902.7 million they spent in 2010). Never before has a single car insurer spent that much on marketing. GEICO s ad budget is not only high in terms of total amount spent but also in the percentage of its overall ad budget. For example, according to SNL Financial, insurers spent 2.4% on advertising on average. Whereas GEICO s ad budget represented 6.5% of the premiums it wrote in In comparison, State Farm s ad budget was 1.7% Copyright 2014 Agency Revolution, Inc. 13

14 How Much Market Share Will Money Buy? So what will $1 billion a year in advertising buy you in terms of market share? Well, see for yourself. Figure 7 shows the percentage of market share for the top 10 private passenger auto insurers in the U.S. and how it s changed since Although State Farm and Allstate maintained the #1 and #2 positions respectively, their market share has diminished. Farmers went from #3 to #5. Progressive maintained their #4 position but their market share increased from 5.8% to 8.4%. And of course, the biggest leap was GEICO, going from #6 at 4.8% to #3 at 9.7%, a major expansion in market share. You can expect GEICO and Progressive to continue to grow and take market share from the captive and independent channels. In fact, Warren Buffet said, There is still more than 90% of the auto insurance market left for GEICO to rake in. Concentration of Carrier Market Share Another trend that s been happening over the last 15+ years is the concentration of carrier market share. In 1995 the top 10 carriers represented 58.8% of the private passenger auto market share. Fast forward to 2012 and this grew to 69.8%, an increase of 18%. Also, in 1995 the top 25 carriers represented 69.8% of the market share and in 2012 that grew to 83.6%, an increase of 19.7%. So we re also seeing a significant consolidation trend amongst the top carriers Copyright 2014 Agency Revolution, Inc. 14

15 U.S. Auto Market Distribution by Channel So how has this affected the captive and independent agency channels? Let s take a look. Figure 8, from A.M. Best s report on market share, compares the auto market distribution by channel based on premiums written. Starting at the bottom you ll notice the independent agent s market share was at 31% in 1995 and in 2012 they re also at 31%. You may think, Oh, no real change there. But look at the middle of that chart. In 2005/2006, when the consumer was really responding aggressively to the internet as a legitimate channel for insurance, an erosion started that s continued to this day. Market share went from 34 % to 31 %, a loss of 10% of volume in 5 years. This trend will continue unless independent agents do something different (more on that later). The captive, or exclusive agency channel has also dropped, going from 48% to 44%. So, overall, the agent s share went from 80% to 73%. And of course the direct channel is what s eating away at the other two, going from 20% to 27% Copyright 2014 Agency Revolution, Inc. 15

16 What about Homeowners and Small Commercial? Now let s take a brief look at homeowners and small commercial lines. As you can see in Figure 9 there has been a minor erosion in homeowners, so that is something to monitor. But the small commercial lines still seem to be in the sweet spot for both the captive and independent agent, being virtually untouched by the directs. Middle market and large commercial lines remain the safe harbor of the independent channel. Billion Dollar Question: Who Has the Best Combined Ratio? Which distribution channel is more profitable when it comes to combined ratio? A popular argument I hear from independent and captive agents is that they do better underwriting, so carriers will always have a bias for the agent channel. And, yes, it s true. The loss ratio of the independent channel (70.8) and exclusive/captive channel (74.1) is less than the direct channel s loss ratio (74.2). However, when you add expenses and compare the combined ratio of all three channels, which is what the CEO of a carrier looks at, then you ll notice that the direct channel posted the lowest combined ratio of 95.0 (see Figure 9). The agency channel posted an average combined ratio of 97.3 and the exclusive/captive channel combined ratio was And if we re talking billions of dollars, an extra $2.30 out of every hundred dollars adds up fast. Which is another reason why carriers are willing to bypass the agent to increase their market share Copyright 2014 Agency Revolution, Inc. 16

17 Trend #3: An Accident Free World Now, let s discuss the third major trend in our industry: moderation in risk that could potentially have a huge impact on private passenger auto premiums. Simply put, think of the impact that an accident-free world would have on the auto insurance market. According to a recent report by the research and consulting firm, Celent, titled, A Scenario: The End of Auto Insurance: What Happens When There Are (Almost) No Accidents, there are four forces at work moving us to an accident-free world. The report describes a dramatic but likely scenario in which local and federal governments in the U.S. would encourage or regulate the use of three currently available technologies: telematics, collision avoidance and automated traffic law enforcement. Additionally, they identify an emerging technology that may receive wide adoption sooner than most people anticipate: driverless cars. Consequently, there may be a very different world in regard to the amount of premium and the amount of risk that flows through, not only the agent channels, but the industry in general. And now is the time to prepare Copyright 2014 Agency Revolution, Inc. 17

18 The 4 Technologies Leading To An Accident-Free World Here s a brief summary of the four technologies 1. Telematics: one example would be Progressive s Snapshot. This is also known as User Based Insurance (UBI). Progressive has recorded over eight billion miles in actual driving records. 2. Automated Enforcement: this would be things like automatic red light cameras and stop light cameras. 3. Collision Avoidance Systems: auto manufacturers have built several different collision avoidance systems and identified the ones that have had a significant impact on reducing the amount, and severity of accidents. 4. Robot Cars: last year, Google announced that their self-driving cars logged some 300,000 miles and that, there hasn t been a single accident under computer control. To get a better understanding of how Celent predicts The End of Auto Insurance as we know it, see Figure 10 below. In this diagram you can see how these four technologies could theoretically go from an available technology, to voluntary adoption by the masses, to a preferred technology and finally to a technology that s mandated by legislation. When participants in the insurance telematics industry were asked, Will user based insurance (UBI) impact the auto insurance industry, and if it will, how great will the impact be? 95% of those experts said that this will have a medium to large impact on the industry Copyright 2014 Agency Revolution, Inc. 18

19 A Quick Summary of What These Trends Are Telling the Retail Agent Fear, despair, panic on one end. Denial on the other. Neither extreme serves the interests of the retail agent. Rather, we advise a sober discernment of precisely what the trends are and a seasoned and appropriate strategic response to each of them. A very brief summary of each of the three sources of change looks like this: Changes in consumer behavior. The consumer in every generation has gone digital. They have, so to speak, voted with their fingers, using their computers, mobile phones and mobile devices to interact with the insurance industry. The silver lining? They have made this clear: use emerging technology, and we will reward you. And those rewards are material: in retention, customer acquisition and loyalty. Note: while the majority of research focuses on the personal lines customers use of technology, our own firm s research reveals that the commercial lines buyer likely spends more time researching insurance options online, having so much at stake with their purchase. Changes in carrier behavior. The carrier community, as a whole, is moving in one direction: toward a more direct relationship with the consumer. Just as they did with the introduction of direct bill, carriers are absorbing more consumer-facing roles traditionally owned by the agent: service, sales, and, of course, underwriting. Several major carriers will continue to absorb agent market share. Others who rely on agents will likely increase their consumer connection, even expanding their direct sales channels. However, the savvy agent or broker will see a silver lining here, as well. The carrier community is increasingly focusing their message to the agent: your job is to get and keep good clients. As the value chain adjusts, the agent s role is increasingly clear. Market. That s your job. Changes in risk. Potential modifications in risk could affect the entire industry top to bottom. If, in fact, we even approach an accident free world through the adoption of accident-prevention technology, the volume of premium dollars flowing through each channel could be significantly reduced. That said, it s harder to find the silver lining. The savvy agency strategist should consider this information carefully, creating lean systems that deliver customer value as efficiently as possible, while pondering appropriate diversification to the agency s book of business Copyright 2014 Agency Revolution, Inc. 19

20 A Simple Action Plan for Local Agents Will you be like the CEO of Blockbuster and stick your head in the sand or will you choose to think like Jack Welch when he said, Be thinking about the next jump. It s almost like a chess game, you think the next move before it s upon you. If you believe these trends require a strategic response, then I urge you to take action. And even though the forces at work in the industry are complex, your response to them doesn t have to be. Turbulent times cause confusion. A common tendency is to examine the competition and copy them. For example, agents frequently look at the direct channel successfully selling on price and think that will be their winning strategy. First, attempting to out-geico GEICO is foolhardy. Second very briefly summarizing GEICO s successful strategy as price driven is superficial. One model to guide strategic decision making comes from recent research conducted by the consulting and account firm of Deloitte, published in the book The Three Rules: How Exceptional Companies Think. The 3 Rules Two of Deloitte s directors, Michael E. Raynor and Mumtaz Ahmed, analyzed the financial statements of 25,000 companies that were traded on the U.S. exchanges from 1966 to From that information they identified three rules of behavior of the most successful companies. Rule #1: Be Better before Cheaper In other words, compete on value differentiators other than price. Innovation is the business of creating value. The retail agent must, increasingly, seek to add value, not just pass it on. The local agent must get out of the commodity business and find ways to delight your customers. For more information about this please us and ask for a copy of my book, The Agency Survival Handbook at Rule #2: Revenue before Cost This means you need to prioritize increasing revenue over reducing cost. Carriers are increasingly clear on their expectations of agents: get and keep good clients. That is the job of marketing, and, as other, former agency roles diminish, the agent s job becomes clear: be a great marketer. For more information about how other agents have successfully grown, please us and ask for a copy of The 10X Workbook at Copyright 2014 Agency Revolution, Inc. 20

21 Rule #3: There Are No Other Rules Yes, that is Rule #3. If you do the first two nothing else matters. It really is that simple. Now obviously the execution of these rules is complex and not easy but the big picture focus is very clear. You need to focus on innovation and marketing. Are these rules new? They seem to substantiate on empirical evidence what the great management guru, Peter Drucker advised of 50 years ago: Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two and only two basic functions: marketing and innovation...marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Peter Drucker Copyright 2014 Agency Revolution, Inc. 21

22 Conclusion. Do these trends signal the unraveling of the agent channel? A quick glance at another but related industry may give us a glimpse of the future. The travel industry relied heavily on an agent pass through distribution system. The internet and the consumers comfortable acceptance of it dramatically changed that industry. to the surprise of many observers many travel agencies benefitted richly from that disruption. While two-thirds of travel agencies were eliminated over a 15 year period, the number of air-miles written through the remaining agencies grew by an astonishing 370%. As we look to the next 3-5 years in the insurance industry, it s likely that we ll see fewer agencies. But those who remain will be bigger, faster, more adaptable and smarter. The future belongs to those who master two skill sets: marketing and innovation Copyright 2014 Agency Revolution, Inc. 22

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