Insurance is one of the largest and oldest industries in the United States. The first health insurance policies were written in the early 19th Century and since then the industry has grown into an absolute behemoth. The $1.1 trillion in insurance premiums recorded in 2013 by the U.S. Department of Treasury represented approximately 7 percent of the U.S. GDP.

While the monetary value of the industry has grown exponentially, processes at the carrier level have, for the most part, been relatively unchanged by recent technology innovations, and many can seem almost comically dated (not quite 19th Century, but close!). It’s estimated that there are an average of three duplicate processes for each customer sale. This has created a time-consuming, costly and often opaque system with which consumers are increasingly frustrated with in today’s digital age.

This consumer frustration can be seen by looking at a carrier’s Net Promoter Score (NPS). NPS is a common industry metric used to gauge the loyalty of a company’s customer relationships, serving as an alternative to traditional customer satisfaction research because it can be closely correlated with revenue growth. Take a look at some of the NPS scores for a selection of the biggest players in health and life insurance:

  • Humana: 32
  • Kaiser Permanente: 31
  • Liberty Mutual: 13
  • Average Health Insurer: 12
  • Cigna: -1

Now compare those scores to brands from other industries and the discrepancy is scary:

  • Tesla Motors: 97
  • Costco: 82
  • Starbucks: 77
  • Netflix: 68

Today’s consumers want to be able to get educated, get a quote, and buy a policy from the comfort of their home (or phone) in less than 15 minutes. Many insurers cannot currently accommodate this and they are seeing the effects: many “optional” insurance products that used to be widely embraced, new generations are opting out in droves.  A perfect example of this is life insurance. In 1960, 59 percent of U.S. adults owned an individual life insurance policy; now only 36 percent of U.S. adults do. Carriers need to make a real investment into improving their customer experience to create impactful relationships with a new generation of customers.

Carrier’s relationships with their customers used to be managed solely through human interaction with an agent, but moving forward, relationship management must be primarily digital. And more so than simply replicating existing human processes, carriers need to think in terms of a wholly 360-degree view of their customers. Carriers need to be able to see and interact with their customers at every touchpoint throughout the entire buying and servicing process.

What should carriers be thinking about?

Traditional carriers, as well as entrepreneurs, have an important role to play in improving insurance for consumers. Many are already taking steps to improve their processes, and those looking to stay relevant and keep customers should be thinking ahead.

Online is quickly becoming the primary channel of choice for shoppers, but it is still a small channel for most carriers. Carriers need to embrace new forms of communication — behavior tracking, mobile apps, and preemptive communications — for customers. They need to embrace new technologies that will help them adapt.

At Zipari we aim to be that new technology. We have created innovative consumer-facing products that make shopping, buying, and servicing a plan a pleasant and simple experience for the customer. We have crafted powerful back-office tools like our insurance-specific CRM and CX Platform that enable carriers to interact and service members in new and innovative ways.

Insurance innovation is here to stay and we believe the disruption — far from being a passing fad — has barely scratched the surface.

Read TX and Erin’s full report here.