The network Openwork, general insurance provider Paymentshield and distributor Auxilium Partnership have argued that some pieces of technology can be detrimental for the world of general insurance.
Paul Shearman, proposition director at Openwork and Emma Green, head of sales at Paymentshield, said that technology that’s used to reduce the number of questions asked can lead to customers feeling uncomfortable and less likely to take out a GI policy.
Green said: “We see benefits in doing APIs with network CRM systems and putting through information already asked but there’s other tech like giving an adviser a price very quickly without asking any questions or a very limited number of questions.
“We’ve come to the conclusion that, while everyone is different, if you’re putting a technology centred solution together to make life easier you’re probably taking yourself to the quickest ‘no’ you’ll ever get in your life.”
Paymentshield has launched an ‘always ask’ campaign and asked a group of advisers ‘if we could have zero questions and give you a price how would you feel?’ Two thirds actually wanted to ask questions and didn’t like the idea that technology was taking that away.
Green added: “I think building an API between provider and network is vital because the information has probably just been provided by the client in the mortgage application but then going and asking additional questions not in the fact find: like ‘let’s talk about your kids, your hobbies, husband/wife, jewellery, what’s changed in life?’ is great.
“Those questions are important and what differentiates an advised sale to an online one. We are often asked if we’ll deliver solutions like some others by asking fewer questions, but it’s not something we are looking at.
“Based on conversations we have had recently we think there’s options for both and it’s up to advisers to decide what works for them.”
Shearman believed that with technology driving down the number of questions asked customers feel uncomfortable.
He added: “Customers then think ‘do you really understand my requirements, how have you arrived at that?’ so this is a great opportunity for the adviser to demonstrate the value they have. Technology has to help make life as easy as possible for the broker.”
Mark Graves, chief executive at Auxilium Partnership, said: “Technology should be all about supporting a broker and getting right behind them to make their job easier and slicker and certainly shouldn’t be a barrier to talking to a customer.
“If you’re asking a limited number of questions, you’re running the risk of the customer not thinking they’re covered for everything.
“Clients don’t understand GI and would get a quote online not covering them for everything. I’m trying to educate advisers. You need the advice to go with the technology.”
However, Simon Hird, director of broker and intermediary, Legal & General Insurance, and Vikki Jefferies, proposition director at PRIMIS, both argued that reduced question sets means advisers have more time to engage with customers.
Hird said: “As an insurer we have access to hundreds of data points and technology innovation is making it much quicker and easier for firms to provide a quote resulting in a smoother journey for the customer.
“If an insurer has easy access to all the information that they need to assess an application or claim, why would they not utilise that for the benefit of the customer?
“This means customers no longer need to spend time filling out complex forms and answering endless questions – some of which they might not have the answer to.
“As a result, this gives advisers much more time to engage with customers and discuss their specific needs, which is absolutely fundamental to ensure they have holistic financial protection.”
Jefferies added: “Digitising the GI process can shorten the typical question set by integrating and using existing fact finds, meaning that less time is needed for data to be re-keyed.
“This time regained can be transferred back into the human aspect of the advice process, ensuring advisers are able to maintain those all-important client relationships.
“As the push for digital looks to serve advisers as best as customers, we will continue to invest in and develop our bespoke technology to equip our network with market-leading tools to provide the best possible customer outcomes.”