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Consumers want choices, so it is not surprising that a recommended best practice is to provide insurance policyholders with the option to receive policies either by paper or electronically, according to the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America. The most common practice is for insurance carriers to share policy documentation via email, which raises a number of issues for consumers.
Email can be hard to search in a pinch and documentation may get deleted or archived. Just think, how many hours have you wasted desperately searching for a crucial email with myriad key word combinations to come up with nothing but frustration? Email is also an easy access point for identity thieves, especially when consumers use their accounts to archive documents.
Having the ability to access insurance information on the Internet is vital, yet it presents a host of challenges to many organizations. A recent survey found that consumers open just half of their paper mail, which doesn’t give hard copies of insurance documents much of a fighting chance. While paper records are safe from cyber-attacks, they can be easily misplaced within one’s home or tossed out, and in event of flood and fire, they risk being damaged or lost permanently.
Catching-Up With Customers’ Digital Lifestyle
There is an opportunity for insurance documents to be available to consumers safely online, in a place that consumers trust, which is still easy and convenient to use. Whether that consolidation point is the customer’s own bank or a cloud storage site like Dropbox, it’s time for companies to catch up with the digital lifestyle of their customers.
It is unnecessary for insurance companies to create their own online infrastructure when consumers place their trust so distinctly in their financial providers, and value the convenience of cloud storage. One of the easiest ways an insurance company can get its documents online safely is to link up with a portal that consumers check often. Bank websites see a lot of traffic, since consumers are logging in often to stay up to date on their checking account balances and to pay their bills. The survey mentioned above found that 79 percent of consumers trust banks and credit unions more than any other provider to protect their personal information. Consumers trust banks to keep their hard earned money safe, so also having confidence that their personal information is safe goes hand-in-hand.
Solidifying the Customer Relationship
Beyond the convenience of online correspondence and document storage, insurance companies have an opportunity to further engage with their customers by improving their online communications and document sharing. Customer engagement can always run deeper, and loyalty is hard to secure in the insurance industry. Customers generally have contact with their insurers just once a year, simply to ensure everything is consistent for the upcoming year. In many cases, customers don’t spend much time picking their insurance, often defaulting to the company with the lowest rate.
Improving the online experience can help insurers solidify the provider-customer relationship. A more active customer is easier to retain and even upsell. Insurance companies should provide a robust, secure and easy-to-use way for their customers to get their digital documents, remain interested, and above all, satisfied with their services and more likely to stay.
Online access to documents and services went from a luxury to a necessity to keep consumers satisfied. Partnering with technology providers to reach the widest array of channels and therefore, customers, is a low-cost and low-risk way for insurers to stay innovative and current.