Takeaways from the Society of Insurance Research Conference

by James Nofziger | published on October, 2019

I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days attending the 49th annual Society of Insurance Research Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. Having attended many conferences like this before, I was pleasantly surprised by the open and friendly environment — I interacted with dozens of researchers and had honest conversations about the innovations and challenges that face the modern insurance company.

Here are four big takeaways I gleaned from those conversations and presentations I attended. 

How do I use consumer research to effect change? 

Regardless of the size or tenure of your firm’s research function, they all have the same question: How do I effect change in my company?

As a market research firm with over 40 years of industry experience, this struggle is one we face all the time — there is no value in our findings if we can’t show your company how to use them. To combat that disconnect, try holding activation sessions with your internal stakeholders. Identify what goals can be achieved with your findings. Then craft an experience that resonates with your stakeholders and solves their customers' problems. When they walk away from that session, they will know how to best act on your insights.

User experience research is more than just interfacing with websites

I saw a presentation from Allstate that advocated for the value in applying the skills and talents of researchers, especially user experience research (UX), to other areas of their organization. Sure, UX research can be used to assess how members interact with your call center, but what about how HR interacts with employees? This idea was so simple, but it made complete sense. Flex the learning from your research team across your whole company and benefit from the efficiencies.

Invest in customer connectivity and consumer insights

“The typical insurer loses 10 to 15% of its customers each year. This churn is extremely costly when measured in terms of acquisition costs and the relatively poor claims experience of new policyholders (vs. longer-term customers). Technology can help, but research into the behavioral economics, marketing, and psychology of insurance products can help.” — Robert Hartwig, conference opener and Darla Moore School of Business Risk Management, Insurance and Finance professor

As an outsider seeking to solve these problems for clients, it’s essential that we understand the chronic issues within the insurance landscape before we develop methodologies for deeper understanding and informed decision-making.

Don't ignore what consumers find too confusing — even if it's the status quo

Robert Hartwig also warned that “if traditional incumbents are wedded too closely with the status quo, non-traditional competitors will find opportunities to make insurance simpler for consumers and they will switch to companies who have the best customer experiences.” This relates back to the ability to apply user experience to other operations and processes. We need to find out ways to make customers' lives easier — and that requires learning what is not working for them. In doing just 10 UX interviews we can troubleshoot the problems faced by hundreds of customers. 

Consumer insights can guide decision-making and innovation across industries. There are many methods for uncovering these insights and creating actionable plans to effect change within your company. Connect with a Bellomy market research expert to explore the options and find the best way to meaningfully engage with your consumers.

About the Author: James Nofziger is Bellomy's Subject Matter Expert on the insurance industry. He has more than 20 years of experience in the industry on both the corporate and consultant sides.