Barbara Stacer is the Chief Insurance Officer at weSure, a digital, US-based organization offering comprehensive, easy-to-understand Business Owner's Policy (BOP) insurance, with convenient and cost-effective policies designed to cover what you need, and nothing you don't. Barbara was interviewed by Andrew Daniels, Founder and Managing Director at InsurTech Ohio.
Barbara, you've had experience at traditional carriers and now with a new entrant to the US market, how are you leveraging that experience to launch WeSure here?
“Having worked in the traditional-carrier space for the past 17 years, I've learned that the relationship between the carrier and the agent is top priority for profitable strategic growth. Working with weSure, a new entrant to the US market, I'm carrying the value of having a strong agency plant with me. We are looking to work with agents that want to partner with weSure for the long haul and look forward to the journey of growing profitably together. These strong relationships with agents have helped me to identify the need, the opportunity and the strategy for areas such product development, service, technology gaps and market trends to better serve my agency partners.
Aside from the relationship aspects, I've been leveraging my experiences in product development and process and workflow efficiency to compliment the advanced technology stack that weSure has to offer. Through my prior carrier experience, I have approached success in the small commercial market via four different areas: people, process, product and technology. If I am looking to continuously improve in these areas, success will be achieved. ”
What’s still holding agencies back from growth opportunities?
“I believe it's the fear of the unknown from a few different aspects. Part of it is fear that through technology, entering the digital marketplace may leave an agent feeling left out or unsure how they fit in. They may feel that they will be replaced in their role as both an insurance advisor to their clients, as well as the main distribution point in the traditional agent-carrier distribution model. However, from the agency perspective, the ability to adapt to a more digital environment is a space for them to develop further in and grasp the future of the market. Large agencies, brokers and wholesalers seem to be adopting technology at a faster rate than the typical community-style, retail agent.
It's, all around, a highly commoditized space, particularly in the small commercial market where technology is being introduced very quickly. Things are becoming more efficient through AI, machine learning and the influx of data, but none of that replaces the need for having a trusted insurance advisor to call when you have a question.
As the business becomes easier to write and service through digital capabilities, the independent agent must look for ways to embrace the technology and reap the benefits that come along with it such as reduced acquisition cost, lower expense ratio and the ability to write more business in less time.”
Looking at the current market, what’s the number one thing that agents want?
“Relative to my last comment and speaking specific to the small commercial market, the number one thing that agents want is speed. With such small profit margins in the small commercial space, a fast and efficient quoting process is definitely needed to minimize the time it takes to get a bindable quote. Add to that the high rates of straight-through processing, and you're helping agents turn quotes around in a faster time, saving them money and maximizing their commissions and incentives.
I think we can all acknowledge that over the last several years, we have seen the quoting process for small commercial lines, such as Business Owners Policies (BOPs), become more streamlined and easier to quote. Long gone are the days of pages of underwriting questions, supplemental applications and submitting 100% of our quotes for underwriting review. Today, it’s a race to quote and bind a quote in a matter of just a few minutes. As my grandfather used to say to me, “There are two things you can’t make more of, time and land.” Working in a more efficient manner helps you capitalize on the time that you have, and in this case, that’s exactly what working in a fully digital space gives you.”
What does the future look like in this space?
“The future in this space looks bright and exciting, particularly in the highly-commoditized small commercial space. Almost every customer or agent-facing touchpoint within the insurance journey has an opportunity to be digitalized to some degree to make the experience more satisfying for customers, as well as offer opportunities to be more efficient and effective. Carriers have been increasingly focused on small commercial opportunities for growth in recent years as the technology improves and creates a better profit margin and performance contribution to their portfolio. Those that are able to adopt and/or create digital offerings are going to attract the business and agency engagement needed to capitalize on this segment of business. That’s the entire premise of weSure’s fully-digital quote-to-bind process.
Due to the small commissions associated with small commercial policies, carriers must find ways to quote this business quickly and efficiently with as few touch points as possible. There's a lot of opportunity for growth in this area, and we'll continue to see bits and pieces of the entire insurance-flow process for small commercial get digitized. The more adoption we can get from our agency partners, the bigger part or opportunity they have to be part of the process and growth.”