50 Years of Change

By Ray Carver on August 30, 2018

I began my insurance career in 1967 as a claims adjuster for the very best of reasons – $75 more a month and a company car. Then, I had 20-20 vision, a 92mph fastball and a new actual paper Key Map of Houston.  I still have the map.

So, how has our business changed? Maybe it would be good to start with what hasn’t changed about insurance…

What hasn’t changed in Insurance

  • Most people don’t have good things to say or good feelings about insurance (until they need it, of course);
  • Just about everyone buys some;
  • Virtually no commerce of any kind would be possible without it;
  • At times, good claims still get denied and bad claims still get paid;
  • We are still regulated by the States;
  • Good insureds still pay way too much of bad insureds share;
  • Information and transparency are still the currencies of success;
  • Your customers are solicited by your competition, in one form or another, every day;
  • The potential for personal growth is as strong as ever to those who want it;
  • It all comes down to arithmetic;
  • Your charm has limited value to the customer;
  • The American agency system is still the epitome of entrepreneurship;
  • “Personal Lines” insurance is called “personal” for very good reason;
  • The Plaintiff bar somehow stays one step ahead;
  • If you don’t do what your customer wants, someone else will;
  • The best assurance of a good claim result is the proper structure of coverage in the beginning;
  • The “paperless” office I first heard we were going to in 1976 still hasn’t arrived;
  • For insurance sales people, “close mouth, open ears” is the best advice you will ever get;
  • Insureds always know more about their business and its risks than you ever will;
  • “Please” and ”thank you” still work wonders;
  • By perseverance did the snail reach the Ark;
  • I really do like what I do.
  • For the insurance buyer, cheap insurance could still be the most expensive purchase you ever make.

So, then, what has changed in the insurance industry?

  • Health care on all sides gets more and more difficult for everyone;
  • Shareholder value is the most important measure of success for insurers;
  • IT rules;
  • Natural disasters seem more and more unnatural;
  • Insuring (or not) for environmental issues affects an incredible amount of commerce;
  • If they can buy it on line, they will;
  • Workplace decorum is a good (and necessary) thing;
  • Investment capital wants more and more of this business;
  • ”work from home” gains in popularity;
  • AI / robotic underwriters – are they already among us?
  • A far more detailed knowledge of the product we provide is necessary;
  • We must think globally;
  • 24 / 7 access to and from our customers is critical;
  • Instant communication requires instant action;
  • Didn’t read the policy, did you?

My observation

In summary, then, my observation is this – while the technical necessities of our business today have changed for us and for every other business, the basics of how we successfully do what we do have not.

So, with change being the only universal constant, I think Will Rogers said it best…

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”