Stephanie Dembski is the Vice President of Revenue at Huckleberry, an insurance group that offers simple, fast business insurance—powered by technology. 100% online. 100% easy. Stephanie was interviewed by Michael Fiedel, a Managing Director at InsurTech Ohio and Co-Founder at PolicyFly, Inc.
Stephanie, why have consumers been disenfranchised with insurance?
“It really just comes down to trust for consumers. They're really not sure who they can trust. Who's looking out for them, and who has their best interest in mind. A lot of insurance companies are huge, and that can be very intimidating. We have found numerous times that consumers don't know where to turn, and they think it's going to be a huge tedious process to get insurance at a good rate that meets all of their limits and expectations. They believe it’s going to be a hard process and that quite frankly, they believe ‘insurance sucks’. I say that because Huckleberry went through an exercise recently within the organization. As we were writing our vision statement, we reflected on research that confirms this consumer sentiment and it is our central goal to change this perspective.”
What experiences come to mind that you believe are negatively impacting consumer opinion?
“You have no idea how many people ask where to fax their information when they talk to us. It makes me cringe every single time when we start talking about faxing information, but that's how stuck the insurance industry is - we still require people to fax. All of the other industries you look at, they're progressing. I mean, I can order my groceries online and have them delivered to my front door in an hour. When you think about insurance, we're just not there. As an industry and as individuals who work in insurance, we have to do better to step up, make people excited about the tech and excited about how simple insurance really can be. It really just comes down to doing better. We can't just be okay with the status quo and say, ‘Hey, if it's not broken, we don't need to fix anything.’ That's not true.”
What new digital capabilities or tools is Huckleberry most excited about?
“One thing that our Chief Product Officer has focused on is an ability to meet people online where they are at and at a time that is right for them. If they’re looking to research insurance, we're helping them do that research so that they can find information on multiple carrier options. The API technology to communicate on accurate, just in-time information from these carriers is essential. With this type of embedded and API-based experience, you’re able to get multiple options, modify limits and properly understand, what does that mean for me or what does that mean for my business? I think that's incredibly important.
These advancements are also profound operationally as well. In the past, you would have to go into every carrier and quote every single account, which is a painfully tedious process, but the tech can now do this otherwise time consuming work in a matter of seconds. It allows people to do the research to understand their options. We have it for auto. We have it for some of these other industries, why don't we have it for small businesses? That's important whether they're ready to purchase or whether they're just doing research.”
What does Huckleberry hope to accomplish in both the short and long short term and long road ahead?
“For short term, we just want to continue to get better. I think we're really good right now. We're one of the very best, but that's not enough for us. We want to push for the best experience for our customers. We're really focusing on our tech every day and we want to leave no margin for error, so we're constantly improving that side of it.
A good example, we had someone a year ago sign up for insurance, and it was an easier process than they thought. Their renewal comes up, we've handled it for them, but they're part of that process. They understand they've already gone through it. They're confident in it. It's very seamless to get those renewals over and over because people are so confident in the first touch that they had with us. It's just this constant throughout the year, continuing to educate them if things change. We know for a specific state, that there's requirements that are changing, educating them so that they know that we're a trusted advisor for them. I think that's really important too. It's not just this one-stop shop; it's this ongoing thing and these ongoing touch points to continuously be educating them and building their confidence.
For long term, we're working with carriers and they're like, ‘that's so cool’. I wish we could build something like that, but why can't you? It doesn't have to stop with us. We just want to become the industry standard for insurance. That's really our vision, and then our mission is to make transacting and managing insurance faster and more efficient for business owners and to give our partners the tools to be a more successful and lower their operating costs. We want to get to a place where when you think Huckleberry, you think of an organization in which you can trust a hundred percent of the time that goes above and beyond. Aside from that, something that's easy and simple and that all you have to do is click buttons. You can have the confidence in the tech that your business is going to be protected forever.”