Passing the Torch: Who Will Teach Insurance to the Next Generation?


Long ago and in a galaxy far away, I, your humble correspondent joined a large insurance company directly out of college and was immediately assigned to the Training Department to learn about insurance. It wasn’t a couple of weeks type of training but rather a very deep dive that lasted for a minimum of three months, and actually went a few months longer than that. And the training was invaluable. I not only learned a lot about claims, the area I was ultimately going to work, but about EVERYTHING in insurance. Underwriting, rate making, distribution, customer service, legal, general administration, technology and systems, as well as lines of business, policy administration, billing and payments, reinsurance, stop-losses, individual and group insurance, medical terminology, compliance, and on and on. And you had mentors and managers that were there to answer questions, help you understand the “whys” and otherwise coach you along.

Alas, that was many years ago. Today’s training regime for most insurance companies is to provide training on the specific job you have and ignores the larger context of how insurance companies operate. The lengthy deep dive has given way to a splash pool with light-weight training so as to get a new hires on the job on day one. Insurance training has gone from maximalist to minimalist and that is a major problem.

While the training at the carrier level has been dumbed down it still offers some education, the training at the agency level is worse than you think. Home office employees don’t necessarily require an insurance license, but agency CSRs do. Which means agency training revolves around passing the state licensing exam, and how the agency computer system works. Which brings the training issue into the spotlight.

There has been much ink spilled about the future of the insurance agency, and the woebegone situation with poor customer service, lack of growth, poor technology and the transactional nature of personal lines and small business coverage. There was a time when agencies would nab new employees from the carrier knowing that they would be getting a fairly well educated insurance knowledgeable employee. Now with the lack of training at the carrier level, the agency is left with hiring people off the street and that isn’t good for anyone in the insurance value-chain.

There are industry organizations that publish a plethora of training materials, education webinars, seminars, and so on. Life companies and agencies have LOMA, P&C has PCI, and there is IASA and DigIn that also have nice training and education materials. There are education organizations such as Kaplan that also have insurance learning programs. In essence the insurance industry has outsourced one of its most vital functions to third-parties and that is the problem.

We have an over reliance on systems that might provide information but no context for that information. A data point is nice but knowing how a claim was handled and why, is what the claims examiner needs to understand. The current buzz in insurance technology is about CX or Customer Experience. Focusing on the customer is important but trying to work through a problem with a customer is the Moment of Truth that many companies and agencies forgot to understand.

One final thought from Patty McCord the former CAO at Netflix. “Everyone in your company should understand the business.”

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of VUE Software


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