For many industries, digital disruption is the name of the game. Whether it’s mass transit, retail shopping, or travel, technology is changing the way these businesses streamline processes and improve customer experiences.
Now, Ryan Collier, chief digital officer at Risk Placement Services (RPS), is using digital disruption to completely restructure an industry known for its complexity and high barrier to entry for consumers: insurance.
Collier has been with RPS since 1999, and he founded the company’s executive-lines division. While there, he built a roughly quarter-of-a-billion-dollar premium business that focuses on management liability, employment-practices liability, professional liability, and cyber liability. Although the other products were well-established and widely understood, he quickly discovered that, despite the ever-present and growing risk to businesses of all sizes, a lack of education on data breaches and attacks prevented agents from actively selling cyber liability.
This is especially true for small-business clients that often didn’t see the value in cyber insurance. Even if they got past this hurdle, these business owners would get overwhelmed by a long, convoluted application process that was geared more toward large corporations and high premiums that a small business can’t easily afford. Collier knew there had to be a way to remove the friction in the process and find a price point commensurate with a company’s risk.
“Necessity is the mother of invention,” Collier says. “If we can make the process consumer-focused and actually pain-free, then we can attract a wider audience.”
To that end, he and his team seized an opportunity to digitize the rate/quote/bind/issue process by simplifying the question set and automating everything possible. Companies with revenue up to $100 million can learn about why they need the coverage and then obtain it through their broker in a matter of minutes.
This was no small feat, but under his leadership, RPS optimized the cyber application process by turning a twelve-page, one hundred-question application into four questions that small businesses can complete in less than two minutes. Now, insurance brokers can log onto the RPS portal, get a quote for their client, and issue a policy with zero obstacles—assuming the client qualifies.
“What used to be a sixty-day process is now down to two minutes,” Collier says. “Our customers now realize it doesn’t have to be painful to be valuable.”
With this new system, along with grassroots marketing efforts, issuance of cyber insurance policies has skyrocketed, Collier says. In 2014, RPS placed eighty-five policies. Now, the company has sold more than 25,000 policies to date.
One of the main reasons for this dramatic increase is digital disruption. And for Collier, it’s the increasing need to catch up to a fast-paced world that expects processes to be simple and fast. “We all have a need for instant gratification,” he says. “We only have twenty-four hours in a day, and we only have so much bandwidth to do what we need.”
By collaborating with carriers to simplify and remove friction, RPS is able to provide cyber liability and thirteen other products to its vast retail network. Of the roughly 39,000 insurance agencies in the United States, about 10,000 agencies are appointed to use the platform.
Efficient processing isn’t the only benefit of the RPS online platform. The usability of the platform has enabled RPS to bring other new products to businesses under $250 million, such as Crisis Resilience. This product provides a “red phone” to call for resources, counseling, security, and other features in the event of a crisis. RPS partnered with the largest crisis response firm of its type, and it’s a service Collier is happy to provide. “Unfortunately, in today’s environment, there’s a lot of risk out there,” he says. “We need to protect the customer in an easy and accessible way.”
Not only does Collier aim to make insurance attainable for small businesses, but he also works to improve the way the industry handles insurance altogether. He sees a vast deficit in technological literacy from insurance salespeople and representatives across the industry, who simply don’t possess the skills to talk about cyber or other new-to-market coverages in a relatable way. “I’m not going to buy from you if you can’t explain why I need it,” he says, stressing the need for insurance professionals to be educated on what cyber insurance is and how it can help their customers.
Fortunately, RPS provides tutorials, training, and learning tools for its brokers to facilitate that education, including a six-page FAQ for customers that teaches them the basics of the insurance form itself. As a result, insurance companies that work with RPS go from a roughly 3 percent hit ratio for small-business cyber insurance to 32 percent—ten times the industry average.
“Once education occurs, statistically they buy the insurance much more frequently,” Collier says. Not only do insurers get more clients, he says, but satisfaction has also increased. “We’ve never lost a customer because they were unhappy with the way a claim was handled,” he adds.
Like any industry, Collier believes digital disruption is the future of insurance. “Our goal is to have all the products available to a business done in two minutes,” he says. This requires changing the habits and mind-sets that traditional insurers have had for twenty years.
With the disruption efforts of Collier and RPS, those revolutionary changes are closer than ever.
Photo: Courtesy of Risk Placement Services, Inc.