On a personal note, one of the things that surprised me most about the Employers Small Business Opinion Poll regarding ways people expect to interact with their insurers is that I’m a Baby Boomer. Who knew? The age bracket is 46 to 65 and I’m 48. Of course, I did have to laugh when the study asserted that we have limited experience with the Internet and would rather sit down and deal with someone face-to-face. Uh. No. I live online and prefer to do everything by email if at all possible. So, philosophically — well — electronically philosophically — it would seem I’m more in tune with Generation Y, age 18 to 25.
Now, what’s really interesting about this Gen Y group is that they are the most entrepreneurial demographic in America. Roughly half are in the process of starting a business or expect to have their own business in five years. They may be running that business out of the corner coffee shop over free wifi, however. Their expectations for a business infrastructure, including the purchase and maintenance of insurance are quite different than even Generation X, which is the 26 to 45 crowd.
Essentially, the Gen Y young executive expects to be able to shop competitively for insurance online and then maintain the account, deal with customer service, file claims, and make payments in the same environment. Frankly, most insurers have lagged behind with their websites, making them little more than traps to initiate if not a face-to-face, then at least a phone call. That’s going to have to change if they want Gen Y business and that’s good for the rest of us, regardless of what theoretical generation we belong to.
Let’s face it. Paper is expensive. Bricks and mortar are expensive. Paying staff and utilities — because people just will expect heating and air conditioning — all expensive. The more companies can shift account functions online, the fewer reasons they are going to have to raise rates due to rising overhead. That’s not to say they won’t find other reasons to raise rates, but in general, I think we’ll see companies that have a more full-featured web presence trending toward less expensive coverage.
As for my Baby Boomer status. I’m bummed. I missed the Fifties. And the Fifties were the best part of being a Boomer. Sigh.