I wanted to switch my Home Insurance Policy. Ten years ago, I reluctantly changed my policy to a man my friend was dating. He recently bought an Allstate Agency. A small business owner with a soft heart and loyalty to other small business owners I thought "what's the harm?"
Insurance had broken my trust long ago. As there are five generations working and living together Millennials and Gen Z don't remember when insurance was sacred. There was a time when your insurance agent truly was an extended part of your family. There was a deep trust that rates would be fair and if there was a challenge, there would be a blanket of safety ready to be wrapped around you and lift you up. Your insurance company held up their end of the bargain for the insurance premium you paid. Our family rep was a State Farm agent. He would come to our home to evaluate our coverage, we would go to his office at times too. He was there for all my major life events, my marriage, the purchase of my first fine jewelry and the fur I bought myself with the first significant bonus I earned. I enjoyed meeting with him and his assistant to discuss life events. He seemed genuinely happy for me. Once, wind damage knocked down wooden fence that encompassed the yard of my first modest sturdy brick home. The check came readily and it was generous enough to cover quality materials. We could even save some money by doing the work ourselves. There was no penalty.
A few years later things began to change. Claims were challenged. Our family would discuss, in shock, being challenged and not being reimbursed for a simple car accident with minor damage. Our agent grew bitter and his assistant became exasperated and helpless. They seemed to be operating under pressures they could not control. My guess is there were corporate mandates to change behavior. We had heard that being an insurance agent was no longer a lucrative career. Our agent retired and his assistant followed right after him.
I was still with State Farm but had no loyalty. I had a minor electrical fire which destroyed my brand new television and dvd/vcr player. I called the 800# and the rep said "don't claim it, your rates will go up." I replied "that's ridiculous, this is what I'm paying for." I claimed it and true to her word, the rates went up enough to cover the expense I just claimed. With no loyalty, I moved my policy to the friend's boyfriend.
Service was marginal. The love relationship between my friend and the agent is now over. It was time to explore options. I have an insurance broker I really like. He does not do personal property. He referred me to someone in his firm who does. She sent me a quote for $100 more than I was currently paying. Feeling that I already overpay for insurance and will likely not be reimbursed if there's a challenge, my goal is to keep my rates as low as possible. When I pushed back her reply was "oh, you want the same coverage?" She then quoted me the same rate Allstate gave me. I didn't appreciate the lack of service and the manipulative effort to try to slip one by me.
Still loyal to small business owners. I called a broker who is in a business referral group with my real estate attorney. He didn't respond to my email inquiry. Knowing what I needed to know, I moved on.
A late adopter to fads, I decided to explore Lemonade. I don't feel secure about their marketing or their name. Lemonade for insurance? Feels a little too hip for me. I saw a Facebook ad that said "your insurance doesn't have to suck." A man, a writer, wrote that he was offended by the word. A social media follower responded "I can't wait until the dinosaurs die." The Millenials often talk about creating a community. I thought "is this the kind of community I want to be a part of?" One where using crude language and being horrible to people who express their opinion is tolerated?" I admit, I'm likely a T-Rex next to my fellow writer's Allosauras however do we have to tolerate things that are so offensive and not inclusive?
Taking a deep breath, I accepted the world is changing around me in ways that don't work for me. I decided to take a serious look at Lemonade. My interactions with the BOTS were good and efficient. My quoted rate was lower. I did more research and learned this insurance company is generally going after renters insurance which is optional for most people. I wondered, would there really be any money for me if I filed a claim? Then I learned they are a peer to peer model that gives any money left over to charities of your choice. Well that's *nice* but why not return to it the consumers in the form of lower rates?
My favorite magazine AARP showed up in the mail. There was a list of companies that provided savings for members. One company was Hartford Insurance. I used a very efficient interactive online system, no offensive words or slick interactive BOTS, but it did the job. After filling out my information and seeing that I could save $100 on my current policy, I was asked to call. I then spoke to a pleasant and efficient human being who tolerated my complaints about mandatory insurance with good humor.
Since there was a better option, I couldn't go with the slick and glossy Lemonade. Upon further research it doesn't appear they are a true P2P business model but are a slick marketer. My main reasons for not choosing Lemonade were lack of demographic inclusion, offensive language and lack of transparency. Homeowners cannot choose to be uninsured. It's required by law. We can, however, choose who we do business with. We can also choose to be a vocal part of the community. This dinosaur decided on another option, still longing for the days when your insurance company was truly there for you.
Is the current insurance business model outdated and inefficient? Of course it is. The very profitable insurance companies could easily redirect their resources to create efficient customer service and friendly, inclusive technology. It's time for them to start doing so. I'll likely do a review next year to see if my rates are as low as they could be. At that point I may look at an authentic Peer2Peer insurer, I hear that Friendsurance is one. I'm also being inundated with Faceook insurance ads, learning there are more companies than I have ever dreamed of. For now, I need to put this analysis to bed. I've put a significant amount of life hours into a financial decision that will likely not benefit me if and when I need it.
Alicia Dale is a strategic thinking Creative that understands the power of words to influence, change and build new infrastructures. This Blog is to capture ideas that have no where else to go at this very moment. Who knows how they will be developed? Or where they will go? For now they are sparkles of light easily stored where I can search and find them when they call my name again.