In the retail world, O2O ‘online-to-offline’ implies an online trigger that prompts consumers to go to a physical location to complete their purchase, but it can also be the other way around. In the case of insurance, there are over 100,000 independent agents in the U.S. Agencies rely heavily on high-value networking, customer references, direct carrier relationships, multiple lines of products and most importantly being able to interact with customers in person.

In 2020’s new normal, it is mission-critical, if not a question of survival, to transition insurance agencies from an offline to an online model, O2O, where almost all activities that agents were accustomed to on a day to day basis need to be done completely remote. This can offer significant benefits if done right: higher productivity, scale and a high degree of accuracy that allows agents to continue to build trusted relationships. As a risk management advisor, the onus is on agents now more than ever to provide policyholders with unmatched risk transfer strategies. With rising threat levels and soaring cyberattacks on small to mid-size businesses(SMBs), cyber insurance provides an opportunity to rebuild an agency book of business when done right. 

Here are 10 considerations to jumpstart your offline-to-online (O2O) transition. 

1. Direct your efforts to insurance lines with growth potential. Cyber is new, with significant opportunities for adoption in the small and mid-size market as cybercriminals take advantage of the disruption created by the crisis. Phishing attempts, a form of social engineering attack, have soared by over 600% since the end of February according to Barracuda networks, a security provider for SMBs.

2. Focus on industries for which cyber insurance is critical. As more businesses digitize their operations, online (SaaS) applications and processes are deployed in every aspect of an organization. This, in turn, will lead to more common cyber incidents across all industries. Get familiar with sectors that are either contractually obligated to get cyber insurance or are leading the transition to a digitized business.

3. Choose partners who operate 100% online. Now is a good time to re-evaluate the insurance carriers and programs that you’re partnering with for their ability to support an online business model. The technology is available today to deliver a vertically integrated insurance solution that brings insurance requests, risk assessment, underwriting, policy, and claims management together in one system supported by a common set of always up-to-date data. 

4. Look for admitted, standalone programs.  This is directly tied to your choice of carrier. There is a general shift towards standalone cyber insurance programs for the simple reason that cyber insurance provided as an endorsement to other complex coverages only adds complexity. Standalone cyber clarifies what’s covered or not, the aggregate limit for the policy and sub-limits for each coverage along with other parameters specific to cyber.  

5. Aligning Risk to Coverage is your de facto sales pitch.  Cyber is about protecting businesses’ use of technology and the internet. Every business deploys different applications and systems with processes that fit their unique way of conducting business This leads to widely different risk exposures that should be reflected in coverage options. Policyholders should have the opportunity to opt for the coverages, aggregate limit, sub-limits and deductibles that best match their risk profile and risk appetite. 

6. Know as much as the customer about the risk if not more.  Cyber risk exposures and threats evolve all the time. Assessing a business for cyber risk only once a year is an obsolete, dangerous approach to offering cyber. The option to monitor and reevaluate risks and coverage on an on-going basis is imperative for cyber and protects all – policyholders, agents, and insurers – from gaps in coverage. 

7. Work with carriers who can collaborate on prospecting.  Turn your website into a producing site, not just a lead generation tool. API integration of your website into the carrier’s quoting and underwriting platform can be effective at delivering an on-going stream of qualified cyber insurance buyers to your agency. 

8. Best claims experience and loss control start with educating policyholders.  Ensure your customers have appropriate security awareness training often provided by the carrier. Basic InfoSec training or phishing simulation are great examples. Regular updates to policyholders on providing their risk insights and remediation guidance provide effective risk mitigation and loss control.

9. Educate yourself on what events trigger which coverage.  The best way to clarify for your policyholders what exactly is covered by the carrier’s insurance program is to have them share with your claim scenarios. For each coverage, demand a list of cases that would trigger specific coverage along with real examples from the past. 

10. If you are spending more than a few minutes on submission, application or binding you are already not achieving productivity.  Transitioning to an online model can seem disruptive at first but, if done right, will yield significant benefits:

  • Faster and more accurate applications
  • Faster turnaround time on quote and bind when you work with a program that is also deployed online
  • Ability to make additional services available to policyholders as part of the online process – risk assessment, training, notification of major changes. The on-going engagement through online communication can increase customer satisfaction and open policyholders to other opportunities.

At Cowbell, we have addressed the trifecta purchase drivers for SMBs with an expedited process, optimized coverage and individualized insights with the goal to make cyber insurance easy. Start your O2O journey today. Get appointed today!