The following is the transcript of a conversation with aha insurance CEO Steve Livingstone during the launch of aha insurance on what was the inspiration behind the company, the development process and the future:
We saw an opportunity in the marketplace because the marketplace overall is lagging in consumer needs and wants. Canadian insurance is a very old-school industry in a lot of ways. If you look at purely from the perspective of the customer, there is not a lot of variation in the tools available to buy insurance. There are simplistic online “quote tools” but invariably you need to talk to someone to finalize the process. It takes up a lot of time and effort, and it’s not very efficient for anyone involved.
We’re not suggesting that talking to someone has lost its place, or is unnecessary; we have a very strong and experienced team available to assist and consult with our customers online via chat, or email, or on the phone. We’re just suggesting that the consumer will appreciate more options on how they buy their insurance. That the tools they use to collect their information to understand their needs and wants to understand the available solutions from a product and carrier perspective, needed to evolve.
Canadian insurance needed to evolve
That was the big impetus. We’ve seen an evolution over time with how consumers operate. From the purely paper transaction age to telephony and the development of the call centre and the IVR; over time we saw different tools for communicating, figuring out their needs and wants and understanding the products they were purchasing.
What we have come out with at aha insurance is the next step in that consumer evolution, and it is digital. The ability to use their desktop, their phone, their iPad to shop, educate and buy home and auto insurance, and capacity to manage their policies online thereafter.
Look at the uptake in true e-commerce in different jurisdictions globally. Canadian insurance, as an industry, is way behind the rest of the world. If you look at jurisdictions as being other segments of the marketplace, like retail, cable, Internet, grocery shopping, what have you, think about how you make purchases in every other sector of your life, and home and auto insurance has markedly fallen behind.
Personally, I was not an early adopter when it came to e-commerce, but over time, I have become more than comfortable buying online. Now, my expectation is to almost exclusively buy online, and clearly, I am not the only one.
Consumers do things differently than they have done before. To go online, make an informed purchasing decision, to act on that purchase, and for the order to be fulfilled as expected has become the standard operating procedure.
Insurance in Canada, as an industry has been forcing them to go back to the way it used to be.
Simply put, what aha insurance is doing is providing the opportunity for insurance consumers to continue to operate the way they would in every other vertical.
That said, we understand our obligation as an insurance provider. We need to give them advice, need to provide confidence and provide the best product we possibly can to the consumer. We’re not abdicating that responsibility. We’re just providing the opportunity for that to be done differently and far more efficiently.
It’s not been an easy journey, by any stretch of the imagination. As experienced people in the industry, we understand these are complex products. For example, there are 40+ pieces of information that we need to give a new customer an auto policy.
To automate that process in collecting the information, interpreting the information, then reflecting that back to the consumer, offering them options that make sense to them, and then synthesizing all of that into an offering, all while providing a simple and elegant online experience was a daunting challenge.
So, it took a lot of time, effort and ingenuity to figure all of that out. And to make getting insurance better simply by using the information we already have at hand to benefit the customer from an experience perspective.
Take, for example, something as simple as their traffic infractions. Think about it. You may have a speeding ticket or an accident in the past three years. How many of us can remember the exact date? I have a speeding ticket from August of 2016, but I couldn’t tell you the exact date, or how many kilometres I was over the speed limit.
We’ll never stop getting better
And that happens all the time when applying for insurance, and because of that, it slows down the application process both for the consumer and the insurance company. Using our technology, we cut that out for our customers and mine the information from their Motor Vehicle Report and Auto Plus.
With our customer’s permission, we can go and get that information, present it to them for their review, and that simple step makes everything in the insurance process that much easier. It speeds it all up, and it is far more accurate.
aha insurance is the only company in the country doing that because we are constantly trying to save our customers time and minimize their inconvenience. That’s just one example of how our online experience is superior to the traditional process. And we will never stop getting better.
Part of what will make us successful is, and we built this in from the get-go, the ability to track and respond and to evolve to our customers wants and needs. This ongoing process will constantly improve the aha insurance experience based on the real-world interactions with our customers.
aha insurance fulfills a lifelong dream
This launch is the fulfillment of a long dream. It was a tough task, and we have built something unique in the marketplace, and we have built something we feel will appeal greatly to our customers.
That is the ultimate test of course – their reaction. Competitors can say whatever they want. There will always be those who have an opinion, but the only opinion that matters is what do our customers think of us.
I am confident that when people come and check us out, they are going to be interested in what we have to offer.