Insurance providers might not be playing an active role in reaching out, but this doesn’t mean customers don’t want to hear from them

Collinson says just because customers don't get regular communication from insurers, it doesn't mean they don't want it (Credit: PxHere)

Communication with customers is key for insurance companies when coverage must be explained and paid for, but the channel doesn’t always stay open unless a claim needs to be made. Lawrence Watts, head of insurance at customer experience specialist Collinson explains why not communicating with customers consistently is a missed opportunity for the industry. 


Getting customer communications right is a challenge facing all industries, but if you do succeed, it can mean huge benefits, which explains why brands from Salesforce to Dollar Shave Club are investing heavily in data-driven content marketing.

But some sectors have been slow to embrace effective, proactive customer communication, with a key example being insurance.

According to a new survey by Collinson only 46% of respondents hear from their insurance provider on a regular basis — what’s more, 39% are missing out on receiving relevant product recommendations.

By failing to establish a meaningful connection with their customers, insurers are passing up the opportunity to build brand retention and loyalty, and ultimately to increase profit.


The communication deficit among insurance companies and customers

Insurance providers might not be playing an active role in reaching out, but this doesn’t mean customers don’t want to hear from them.

The same study revealed that 63% of respondents are open to further communication from their insurer, and 73% are interested in receiving targeted product and benefits recommendations.

Consumers crave more information when it comes to insurance, and they are open – and in many cases enthusiastic — about receiving expert guidance from their provider.

insurance communication
Lawrence Watts, head of insurance for Collinson (Credit: Collinson)

Sadly, insurers are letting this opportunity fall by the wayside, as respondents not only noted a lack of regular communication, but were also left uninspired by the content itself.

They said their exchanges were mostly limited to transactional matters like renewals notices (79%); policy updates (67%); and terms and conditions amendments (37%) – topics that are hardly going to leave them wanting more.

If insurers aren’t careful, they could start to see their customers turned off by uninspiring communication, more often than not resulting in a loss of business. 


Unique challenges for the insurance industry in its communication with customers

Of course, the situation is far from black and white, as operating in a highly-regulated industry has meant insurers have tended to be more conservative in their communication, hampering their progress when engaging with customers.

The implementation of GDPR in May 2018 hasn’t helped things either, as many providers have seen their customer lists shrink since the regulation came into effect.

However, the survey suggests that a lot of this could simply be down to consumers’ lack of awareness about the opt-in process — the act of customers agreeing to receive correspondence. 

Of those who opted-out post-GDPR, 35% said they did so without knowing they were depriving themselves of updates, and – more importantly – half (51%) of this cohort said they would not have opted out if they knew.

This presents an opportunity for insurers to raise awareness about the options their customers have and why it’s beneficial to sign-up to receive communications.


Consumers want more updates, but on their terms

Consumers might be open to receiving more useful information from their insurance providers about products and services — but the survey suggests their openness is conditional on several factors.

For one thing, consumers won’t accept irrelevant and generic content, expecting the communication they receive to be personalised based on their individual needs and interests.

insurance communication
According to Collinson’s survey, customers want targeted, not generic email communication

They also want updates to provide additional value to them. For example, the offer of benefits like flight-disruption assistance, or 24/7 global access to a doctor.

Indeed, 50% of respondents said they would view their insurer more positively if they were offered benefits in addition to the core product.


A willingness to share data in exchange for more relevant content

The ability to personalise communication hinges on the customer intelligence of insurance companies. 

The good news is, our survey suggests that consumers are willing to share their data in order to benefit from more personalised services.

For example, most people are willing to share details like their occupation (78%) and dependents (69%), and a significant amount are also open to informing insurance providers about their interests and hobbies (57%).

However, as with opting in, consumers have certain conditions for divulging their data.

Specifically, consumers demand transparency on data handling, with 41% of those who said they were open to personalised communication saying they’d only share their data if they were sure it wouldn’t be passed on to third parties.

Insurance providers need to show consumers how their data is being used, and how this will improve the products and services they have signed up for.

insurance communication
Transparent data handling is key to building customer trust (Credit: PxHere)

Consumers want to receive more meaningful and targeted content from their providers, but insurance companies need to help them feel comfortable handing over the data that is needed to create it.

Providers need to demonstrate the value of more regular and personalised communication in order to gain their customers’ trust.

Those who succeed in this will be able to develop a relationship with their customers, beyond that of a service provider, instead becoming a trusted partner.