Broker Words—May 2021

My wife and I count Serena as one of our dearest friends. She is a beautiful, vibrant, incredibly bright and imminently loveable young woman with a great sense of humor. Her laughter, often at my expense, when not threatening to damage one’s eardrums absolutely lights up the room. We often trade barbs, some subtle and some not, and to that end I purchased a t-shirt for myself specifically with her in mind. Pursuant to full disclosure, one of my more narcissistic conceits is the collection and public display of witty, sarcastic, ironic or pathetically punny casual outerwear. Examples include “Irony, The Opposite of Wrinkly,” “I am your internet girlfriend,” and, in a nod to the pandemic, “This too shall pass (just like a kidney stone).” Today’s is “I’m ashamed of what I did for a Klondike bar.”

Back to Serena. One of the most recent times she came over to watch a football game, I greeted her at the door wearing my Chief’s jersey (although she’s a “Ewww…one of thooooose!” Patriots fan). After she had settled in on the couch I switched to the aforementioned t-shirt bearing the poignant message: “I’m having people over to stare at their phones later if you want to come by…” Half way through the second quarter she finally noticed and flipped me the bird while chuckling. Before the two minute warning she was eyeGlued to iPhone again.

The obsession with mobile devices has led to some sobering statistics. According to The Zebra, distracted driving causes 35 percent more injuries than drunk driving. Per distracted driving stats from 2015, driving while using a cell phone caused 391,000 injuries while driving under the influence of alcohol caused 290,000 injuries. From my personal experience, “probably some kid (anyone significantly younger than me) messing with their phone” has replaced “that guy’s wasted” as my first reaction to observed “creative lane management.”

For many younger couples stringent measures must be instituted to prevent mealtimes, either at home or in a restaurant, from lapsing into insulated exercises in tiny screen REM. Some restaurants, as well as other businesses, even go so far as posting archaic printed messages offering to “cheerfully wait on you after you’ve finished with your phone.”

These days the least used app by far on our telephones…is the telephone. I sometimes fantasize that someone develops a…err…tablet…to help with mobile device overuse. But even I have found it difficult to imagine not being able to check email when away from my office, Google available businesses on the fly for any number of products and services, or get vocalized directions to addresses not fully familiar to me. We’ve come a long way from the 10 pound bag phone I felt so privileged to possess not so very long ago.

It’s undeniable that there are myriad benefits to today’s mobile device adaptation and adoption in our industry. Speed to issue, app accuracy, info gathering, proposal presentation, policy detail access…the list is extensive. But likely the most positive result of our embrace of advanced tech and mobile solutions is the enhanced ability to reach more of the Nation’s un- and under-insured by exploring and exploiting the tools, systems and platforms on which millennials and GenXers skulk. Mobile devices and other tech advances allow agents old and new to meet and engage younger (more easily underwritten!) prospects on social media platforms where they seek and offer advice from and to their peers (referrals?) and offer a quicker much more seamless buying experience to those who’ve become accustomed to Amazon’s nearly immediate gratification.

Millennials and Gen X are much more likely to do internet research and survey their peers when considering a variety of purchases—including insurance products. Tablets in the hands of brokers at the time of sale offer younger clients the buying experience that they’re most familiar with, as well as providing more apps in good order and digital (archivable) policy delivery.

Stridently exclaimed as crucial to your business’ continued health, keeping as current as possible on tech and social media trends has become the price of streaming (formerly admission) for those hoping to connect with the literal wealth of prospects “coming of age” as serious insurance prospects. Whether this adoption proves Faustian or not, as a blasphemously disinclined late baby boomer technidiot I need to reinforce to myself that this is, indeed, clearly necessary…kinda like a colonoscopy. [SPH]