Employees, Innovation, and Continuity

This article originally published in Carly’s AM Best Monthly column in the October 2017 edition.

As insurers increase their use of artificial intelligence and automation, employees may fear being replaceable or losing responsibilities that they enjoy. Artificial intelligence and automation will increase efficiency and improve the overall experience for consumers if done correctly.  In addition to concern over new technologies replacing employees, there is also the concern that autonomous vehicles may lead to loss in revenues sooner than some in the industry anticipate thereby reducing even further the need for insurance professionals who serve the auto insurance side of the company.  Fear and uncertainty over the long-term stability and prospects in rapidly changing roles can lead to disengaged employees. While it is certain that insurance is changing and the use of technology will improve our capabilities over time, it is uncertain how this will impact the people in our offices and how quickly the effects will be visible.  How can we all embrace change and plan for the future when the future may not include the role an employee currently holds?  Smart managers will encourage these behaviors in their employees:


1. Open Communication

Encourage employees to voice their concerns about what is on the horizon.  They should feel safe expressing these worries in their one on ones and through feedback processes for the wider department or division.  Allowing employees to share these thoughts and giving honest answers to their questions will let them know that they’re valued.  In addition, the company can benefit from thinking about potential impacts of technology proactively if employees see a blind spot that had not been considered.


2. Education on Current Events in the Insurance Ecosystem

Change happens quickly outside of many companies in this day and age. Insurtech companies are seeing more investments than ever before, and the number of them that exist is staggering. According to Accenture’s 2017 report-The Rise of Insurtech, “87% of insurers agree that technology is no longer advancing in a linear fashion, but rather at an exponential rate.”  In addition to the increased speed of technological advance, consumer needs and wants are changing faster than ever. Your employees are closest to your customers, and being certain that they have the time and resources that are necessary to stay abreast of changes and current events will allow employees and companies to benefit from early warning signs.  


87% of insurers agree that technology is no longer advancing in a linear fashion, but rather in an exponsential rate.


3. Innovation

Open Communication and Education will prepare your employees to take an active role in creating the workplace of the future.  Being able to talk through their fears and anxieties and taking the time to gain knowledge about what is coming down the pike will allow your company and each individual to give input on a proactive plan.  They may come up with alternative business opportunities or suggest ways in which technologies can improve your efficiencies and customer experience.  Encouraging and formalizing an innovation process in your company can lead to great gains and a renewed sense of fun in the workplace.

Many insurance companies tout their people as their number one differentiator.  If employees are to believe this, they must feel it.  During times of rapid change, like the one that we are living in, companies must make the effort to address the anxieties felt by their employees.  Implementing the three behaviors outlined above is a starting point, and companies stand to benefit from employees who are engaged and believe that there is an exciting future with their current employer.



About Carly Burnham

Carly Burnham began her insurance career in 2004 as an office assistant at an agency in her hometown of Duluth, MN. She got licensed as a producer while working at that agency and progressed to serve as an office manager. Working in the agency is how she fell in love with the industry. She saw firsthand the good that insurance consumers experienced by having the proper protection. When Carly moved to Des Moines in 2010, she decided to commit to the industry, and she completed her CPCU in one year finishing it in 2012 and attending commencement in New Orleans. She completed her MBA at Iowa State University in 2014. During this time, she and Tony founded a Gen Y Associate Resource Group at Nationwide in Des Moines. After they had both left Nationwide, Tony recruited Carly to co-author and manage InsNerds.com. She has the difficult task of keeping his constant flow of crazy ideas focused and helping to flesh them out into useful articles. Carly enjoys sharing knowledge and ideas about the future of the industry and finds the website a good outlet for this passion. Carly is involved in the the CPCU Society Underwriting Interest Group. She also writes "Next Wave" a monthly column in the "Perspectives" section of Best's Review.

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