This news service has been talking to a number of businesses for views on how approaches to risk management have been affected by COVID-19, the associated economic and social turmoil, as well as by developments in technology.
As part of this news service’s examination of risk management in the wealth industry, it recently spoke to US-based PURE Insurance. This is an organization that has a specific view on the benefit of viewing risk through an insurance prism. We interview a number of PURE’s senior figures below.
Jerry Hourihan, chief growth officer,
What regions do you operate in? What sort of clients do you look after? Do you go direct, or via brokers, other intermediaries, or use all of these routes?
PURE is a specialist insurance company operating throughout the United States, helping a select group of successful, responsible individuals and families do together what they cannot do by themselves: prevent loss, transfer risk and bounce back. We make our members smarter, safer and more resilient so they can pursue their passions with greater confidence.
More than ever before, we distinguish ourselves by promoting transparency, eliminating conflict and always reinforcing an alignment of interests among our stakeholders.
PURE partners with a network of the finest independent brokers in the country. These firms understand our values and principles, and we embrace their commitment to providing our members with independent advice. Their independence lends credibility to their recommendations, and their ability to work with numerous insurance carriers ensures that we work hard to earn and retain the business of our members. This flexibility allows us to maintain our strict underwriting discipline, as brokers we can find suitable alternatives for individuals and families that may not meet PURE’s underwriting standards.
Shannon Bowes, SVP, head of product management,
There is already a range of insurance products covering a variety of risks. What would you say are the newer ones, and do you see any being specifically created by the pandemic and the associated upheavals it has caused?
In the P&C personal lines space, there are a few things that come to mind. First, there is a clear need for products that are more responsive to changes in risk exposure. For example, if a policyholder goes from driving around 1,500 miles each month to driving less than 100 miles a month, that policyholder’s risk exposure becomes very different. As an industry, we need to be better about making sure our pricing is more responsive.
Second, I think that there are a number of questions around how coverage needs change when more people are home, and especially when more business is being conducted from home and digitally. I think that personal cyber insurance may see more interest in the future. It's not a new product, but it's one that hasn’t gotten to a place where it's being widely purchased.
Finally, I personally wonder if we’ll see something new around liability, especially for people that host large events.
Katherine Richardson, chief human resources officer, PURE
What’s the biggest issue the pandemic has thrown up for your industry? What have you changed as a consequence?
Long before COVID-19, PURE had a strong technology infrastructure in place, which has enabled nearly every member of our team to transition to working from home quickly and seamlessly. With laptops, a secure virtual private network and a highly capable IT team, most of our employees were able to begin remote work immediately.
Creating a smooth transition for employees goes hand in hand with ensuring continuity of excellent service for the PURE membership. We have quickly adapted services such as our PURE360™ Risk Management Experience and claims adjusting to fit a remote environment.
Typically, our PURE360 Risk Management Experience is performed in person with a PURE Risk Manager to identify and provide solutions for areas of risk in a member’s home. However, for the past 18 months, PURE has been working on a technology that allows members to perform this home review on their own.
Since social distancing guidelines and shelter-in-place orders were implemented in mid-March, making it impossible in some cases to conduct in-person reviews, thousands of members have engaged with the Self-Directed PURE Home Review. The app uses chatbot technology to guide members through their home, taking photos and videos of particular areas and answering simple questions in order to provide risk management solutions and advice in real time. The response from members who have used this technology has been overwhelmingly positive.
We have also further utilized PURE Express, a technology we already had in place to increase the efficiency in handling auto damage claims, and now it also serves to reduce face-to-face interaction. Similarly, we have introduced a tool for inspecting property damage, guiding members as they document home damage with photos and videos, to limit in-person interaction and keep both our members and adjusters safe.
We also wanted to find a way to stay connected with our broker partners throughout this time of remote working and social distancing. We started a webinar series that has become highly popular – a daily 30-minute exploration of issues and solutions across nearly all functional areas of the business.
Matthew Schreibeis, SVP, head of member experience,
How are technologies such as AI, Big Data affecting your industry and what are some of the biggest hurdles associated with that?
It is exciting to see the exponential growth in technology and data available. The advances in AI allow for more sophisticated ways to analyze complex inputs, and the abundance of data capture statistics on every interaction with a customer.
The challenge becomes precisely understanding your business and the problems that you are trying to solve. It is easy to become excited about all of the ways you can use the latest AI tech for your business and interesting to see the different interactions around which you can capture measurable data. However, if you don’t have a specific, well-defined problem, point of friction, inefficiency, or customer frustration, you risk applying these tools or analyzing data in a way that does not move your business forward.
For example, there is sophisticated information you can now collect about how a user navigates through your website. Beyond even click paths and time spent on page, you can see where cursors travel to know where a browser’s eyes are drawn. However, engagement within the page may already be excellent and analyzing this data to optimize further would return marginal benefit, versus what may be the real business challenge – getting consumers to your page initially – and the data you need to be gathering is click-through rates and behaviors on emails and other communications.
On the other hand, if you have a narrowly defined problem, the abundance of AI and data will likely allow you to find a solution. In our case, we saw a problem where members were buying new homes without full visibility into the risks, prior losses and insurability of the home – oftentimes uncovering potential issues way too late in the purchasing process. We were able to source 35 data elements from six different sources to curate a report called the PURE Home Spotlight. This tool solved our problem by providing key insights on potential risks in real time – as our members are shopping.
It’s critical to maintain a human touch alongside these new technologies during this challenging time more than ever. When we look at what we do well at PURE, it’s the humanity that matters. What we do to foster humanity is what builds a brand and connects us, both within our company and with our members. PURE’s Member Advocates are a prime example of this – each claim gets assigned a Member Advocate, who sees the member through every step of the claim for a truly personalized and high-touch experience.