Computers came and we poured information into them. Then all those computers were linked up and they poured information into each other, slowly leaking out to create the sea of data we find ourselves lost in every day. This has lead to the rise of the information navigator.
Automated content filtering systems like Google help us find the stuff we want on a daily basis, but individual industries have similar services. In the insurance sector, recent years have seen the rise of the quote comparison sites. These filter through the huge numbers of insurance providers out there to help consumers see their best options without having to approach each individual broker themselves. Sort of. They filter through lots of different providers and lots of different products at least.
The major quote comparison sites, be they meerkat, opera, supermarket or puzzled in flavour, are some of the heavy hitters in the insurance industry at the moment and have the capability to generate huge numbers of leads through instant brand recognition and masterful marketing. They have become successful by recognising that no sane person enjoys buying insurance and instead offering them a service which speeds the process up without forcing anyone into the first option they find.
I’m not going to suggest that quote comparison sites are a bad thing – YOUR Insurance has one of its own after all – but for all their benefits, they are not a universal solution. The world is rarely normal and it is painfully clear that we still need expert humans as well as fast moving machines to navigate such a muddled field as the insurance sector. This piece could easily transform into a luddite rant about how robots are taking jobs away from good, honest, hardworking folk and I have no intention to go down that path, but there could be a reckoning of some description in the next few years.
There’s a possibility that we might start to see a negative impact of widespread quote comparison site usage. Theoretically, there could be a large number of people buying insurance through these sites that are unaware of the assumptions that have been made about them to qualify for cover that we don’t know about. All of these assumptions are of course there in the terms and conditions – the regulators would have a field day if they weren’t - but it’s debateable how many of these are being read on sites that promote the speed and simplicity of getting covered.
Even stupid humans are smart. Humans are adaptable. Humans (mostly) don’t require exact instructions to understand a situation and they can deal with questions, uncertainties and scenarios that fall outside of normal parameters. Computers and automated systems less so, and you will find people fudging their answers to get through to the next section, resulting in a cheap affordable policy that is worth less than the email it is printed on.
Filtering and finding content is becoming increasingly important in our modern age of information overload. Filtering and finding products in an increasingly competitive marketplace, insurance or otherwise, is no different. Sometimes however, it is important to recognise when you need to slow down and talk to a fellow human.
David Hing runs the blog for YOUR Insurance, an insurance broker specialising in public liability insurance for small businesses. The company employs both robot and human insurance navigators.
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