April 2, 2021

Three Tales of Troubled Insurance Relationships

Three insurance relationship tales from today’s newswire. Thrice-divorced Natalie Galumpkin says she knows a bad…

Three insurance relationship tales from today’s newswire.

Thrice-divorced Natalie Galumpkin says she knows a bad experience when she has one and her experience buying home insurance through the HipHome app was one of the worst.

She is suing the insurtech that promised she would be “thrilled” with the new kind of experience she could have with a home insurance provider if she dropped her old agent for HipHome.

“It’s time you loved your home insurer and your home insurer loved you back,” says the insurer’s marketing brochure with a shirtless model model beckoning.

“I have always wanted a closer and more meaningful relationship with my insurance provider,” she said. “I dreamed about it for decades. I thought my prayers had finally been answered.”

One spring night while lying in bed, Galumpkin downloaded the app to buy home insurance for her bungalow in San Bernadino. She clicked it open, answered one question, and then in less time than it takes to light a cigarette, it was over.

All she got was a singing text confirming the premium had been charged to her credit card. Since then, nothing.

“You call that a relationship?” she blurted. “I’ve had more meaningful relationships with my dry cleaner.”

She said the whole experience reminded her of former husbands. Husband 1 was an insurance agent she only saw once a year. Husband 2 was a software engineer who worked all night with three other guys and stayed in the basement.

What happened later reminded her of husband number 3.

After her house was robbed, she downloaded the app again (she couldn’t remember where she put the original) to file a claim. The app asked for a photo of the tv and other appliances that had been stolen.

“Who takes photos of their appliances?” she asked, recalling the photos husband number 3 posted on Instagram without her permission.

Baby Boomer insurance agents love their jobs but aren’t always comfortable around their younger peers. The elder agents say they have trouble relating to younger agents who they complain are too boastful of their tech savvy, too earnest about wanting to do social good and too willing to put life ahead of work.

Old agents also complain that young agents too often jam the office refrigerator with quinoa and smoothies and put pumpkin spice in the coffeemaker.

Oh, and too many of the youngsters have tattoos!

That’s all according to Insurance Journal’s 2021 Old Insurance Agents Survey, which asked 250 old agents — Baby Boomers 65 years or older — around the country for their opinions on their fellow young (under age 40) Millennial agents. The median age of the respondents was 70. The survey is a complement to Insurance Journal’s annual Young Agents Survey.

Despite the aggravation of dealing with the Millennials, most surveyed older agents — 72% —consider their job to be a permanent career choice and aren’t considering starting anew. A majority of Boomers— 64%— would recommend the job to other Boomers looking for a career.

Old insurance professionals appreciate the opportunities their career has provided. High on their list of favorites are renewal business, weekend claims calls, competing on price, continuing education requirements, E&O claims, commission cuts and carriers’ changing appetites.

“I’ll never forget the hurricane forecasted for Monday that showed up on Saturday. So much for chaperoning the kids’ prom that weekend,” a long-time Louisiana agent recalled.

“I have a client – a local bookstore—that I got my first day in the business. There have been no claims, no complaints; in fact, there has been no contact since that first sale,” replied an agent from Minneapolis.

They also like the many perks that come with being an agent including the trade show swag bags, local bowling team naming rights, and, of course, field reps who pay for lunch.

“My wife and I have been to Las Vegas for trade shows 22 times and have never tired of it,” says a Long Island Baby Boomer. “We have collected more than 50 stress relief balls.”

While Boomer agents are happy overall, the crankiest among them would like to change a few things in relation to their younger associates.

Among the old agents, 60% think the young are too quick to embrace change. “Too often, we hear the young producers say, ‘We need to change’ and they are talking about something we have been doing the same way for 99 years. Why change now? What’s the rush?” asked a professional from Sacramento.

At the same time, the young are slow to embrace the old. “I’d love to see the kids reach out to those of us over 65 to see what our pain points are and just accept our vision,” one survey respondent from Orlando wrote.

The survey also found that 62% of Boomers would like to see more people like themselves in the industry and in leadership roles. “I’d like to see more bald guys running things,” wrote one Boston senior who was surveyed.

Millennials believe technology is important; old agents aren’t so enamored of it.

A bare majority (51%) of Boomers maintain that dollars spent on technology would better be spent on bigger company cars. An even greater number (62%) say they are more than willing to spend to upgrade the fax machine and copier.

“The industry must respond to changes in the world,” one senior from Maine said. But, she added, there is no need to ride every technology wave. “I did nothing about Y2K and I was right,” she said.

Despite their discomfort at times, Boomer agents like having Millennials around.

“They can handle most of the busy work behind the scenes, and I can do most of the talking,” a Portland agent said of his younger partners. “It works out nicely for developing my book.”

“It’s nice when younger employees offer to get us coffee without being asked,” a Seattle owner commented.

While Boomers may not agree with Millennials on everything, the two camps see eye-to-eye on two things.

First, they agree that the Progressive Insurance television ads with Dr. Rick are funny.

Second, they agree that a key to success in insurance is not believing articles on April Fool’s Day.

Joe Smith no longer owns anything except for the clothes on his back, his beloved surfboard and a watercolor his mother painted for him when he was in high school. For everything else, including his apartment, car, motorhome, bicycle, tools, and yes, even his pet — he turns to sharing sites.

He has apps for Airbnb, Outdoorsy, Uber, BlueBike, K9rental, ToolFinder, his local library and other sites that he uses regularly to get what he wants, when he wants it.

Smith is the perfect customer for Just-a-Minute Insurance, the latest embedded insurance app for those wishing to buy insurance for only when they want it.

“Some insurers let you buy insurance in just 15 minutes; we let you buy it for just 15 minutes,” says Tai Wun Ohn, the entrepreneur and behavioral scientist behind the latest insurtech to attract venture capital.

Ohn says her offering turns an experience most insurance customers do not think of as one worth remembering into just that—an experience they will quickly forget.

“We are taking the romance out of insurance buying. It’s ‘real quick, just a click’ and people who have not made any property commitments can get the insurance they need for all of their non-possessions,” says the insurance technology firm CEO.

The Minute app is still in beta. Ohn said she doesn’t know how long it will take to release it but that it will probably come down to the last minute. “We were aiming for today but were afraid too many people would think it was a joke if we launched on April Fool’s Day,” she told Insurance Journal.

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