One of our favorite slogans is one we saw on a t-shirt years ago. It was worn by a guy who must have been a bodybuilder — or else he was absurdly muscular for no good reason. The t-shirt read, “Get big or stay home.”
This is not a bodybuilding blog. It’s not even a single post about bodybuilding or weightlifting. And while we don’t think executives in smaller-tier insurance companies need to get bigger, they and their companies would benefit if they started thinking a little bigger.
When we were kids, our families had one car. We had one television set. It displayed in black and white. We had no cable service. We had no Internet. We had no cell phones. And we had land-line phone service with just one phone in the house.
Fast forward: Most families have a car for every driver in the house. They likely have smart TVs in every room, most if not all of which have LED LCD displays. Along with cable and Internet services, most homes have streaming devices like Chromecast, Raspberry Pi, Synology Diskstation, Google TV, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Plex, and others. And everyone walks around with smartphones that, by the standards of even 10 years ago, are portable supercomputers.
Why is that relevant or important? It’s relevant and important because the rest of the world has moved on with technology and accepted the additional, initial costs associated with its increased capabilities. Those costs become entry cards, table stakes, and business investments in the adoption of contemporary living.
Has that happened in insurance? Not so much.
The Future is Here
Insurers are people, too. To stay relevant and competitive, they have to move forward. They have to adjust and adapt. That doesn’t mean they have to lead any technological charges. But they do have to adopt the technological capabilities and the processing functionality that will enable them to develop and introduce products more quickly, deliver service to policyholders more responsively, and react to market opportunities more nimbly.
Will there be incremental cost to adopting that technology? Yes. Just like there is with car payments, cable and Internet bills, streaming services, and data plans. But the more important question is this: What will it cost if you don’t adopt new technologies?
The new reality arrived with the future. Smaller-tier insurance-company executives and their boards have to accept this new reality or accept irrelevance.
They don’t have to get big or stay home. But if they don’t think bigger, they run the risk of getting smaller.