MONDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2016
By Greg Barcomb
When I was growing up and thought of “insurance”, I envisioned an outdated business with outdated people doing something that someday wouldn’t be around because something new and better would make it obsolete. Basically I thought insurance was like a floppy disk. I had no idea how it worked but thought there has to be a better way. What a terrible stereotype. The world of insurance could not be any more different than what I thought.
In 2015 there were 2.5 million Americans employed by the insurance industry. A HUGE industry that could not be more vital to our way of life. It’s been around for hundreds of years and will be around in some way, shape, or form for the next hundred. So why did it take me a year of working in the industry to debunk that mindset? Where does this stereotype come from and why do you, the consumer, care to know the difference?
Let’s start with what we know. The average age for an independent insurance agent is 59 years old. A recent study by The Hartford cited only 4% of millennials interviewed showed interest in working in the insurance industry. Ouch. What we also know, is by the year 2020 the “millennial generation” will be the largest percentage of American consumers when segmented by age! So, where are we all supposed to buy insurance from? Is the insurance industry as we know it doomed? Why does it feel like we went from the Lloyd’s of London to Lemonade overnight?
Ever heard the old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? Have you ever heard anyone less than 60 years old use that phrase? Exactly. The Baby Boomers and Gen Xers LOVE their routine and when it comes to insurance, (the majority) didn’t necessarily think to innovate and adapt over the last 30ish years. There was no need to. They didn’t need to catch on to this crazy “technology” thing because the promise of an insurance policy was way too important to trust to a box plugged into the wall. Think of your parents: How did they take care of their insurance? They called up “Ron” who your old man played golf with and he took care of it. He’s been in the business for 25 years, and he learned from his father who was in the business for 50 years before him! The family trusted Ron because “he’s been doing it all his life”. You can’t get expertise like that anymore!.....Right?
So now think of us. Ron’s son is off backpacking through the Alps and is among the 96% of millennials who are not interested in the business. So we can’t follow suit there. Very few of us golf. We barely mini-golf. So finding someone LIKE us is challenging. BUT, unlike Mom and Dad, we have Google!! The all-knowing, all powerful WORLD WIDE WEB! We have replaced trusting other people, with trusting in the internet.
With a few minutes of fast and furious thumb motions on our iPhone….Bam. We are the proud owner of an insurance policy from a company with a funny commercial and 4.2 stars on Yelp. What’s in it, what it covers, who it covers, well, that is not as important as cheap and easy! What’s so wrong with that? I get everything else from my phone, why not insurance?
Here’s the big one- when things go wrong. I mean really, really wrong. We all go, regardless of age, to the people we know WITHOUT A DOUBT have our best interest at heart. You can’t get that from Google. Mom and Dad didn’t have Google. They have their Trusted Advisor . In most cases, their agent was there before the fire truck showed up to make sure everything was going to be okay. What peace of mind! Who is going to show up for you? Who do we call/text?…… Mom and Dad? But Mom and Dad’s insurance policy is for them! Not you. They don’t know about all the electronic data on your MacBook! They probably don’t know how a renter’s policy responds differently from a homeowner’s policy.
When push comes to shove, we love our technology and the ever- changing methods to consume, but we need to KNOW, not hope, that someone has our back. We need to sift through all the noise and all the commercials and find our own source of information and take the all-important TIME to talk to someone! We are the most educated generation in the history of the world. We know how to find information. YES, it can start on Google. BUT IT CAN’T END THERE. And YES, it can be cost effective and easy. Everyone is different and everyone has different needs and goals. This process needs to end with a name, a number, and a relationship of someone who understands that.
The moral of the story is this: out of the 2.5 million people working in the industry you can find an agent out there who is embracing the technology and world we live in AND building strong personal relationships to best serve the clients they have. Before you spend your hard earned money on that premium, ask yourself if you know what happens if you need to actually use that policy, and cash in on that promise. As one of my mentors in the business once told me, “this is, and always will be a people business. No piece of technology can ever replace that.”
Contact Ten Eyck Group today at (518) 464-0059 for all of your Albany insurance needs!
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