Driving Better Partnerships: Four Resolutions for 2020

As we begin the new year, many of us are establishing new habits and tackling areas of our lives where we’d like to improve—also known as New Year’s resolutions. While research shows that only 8% of people who make resolutions will succeed, more than 40% of us make them each year, proving that we optimistically believe in the potential for improvement. The top resolutions each year generally fall into four major categories: improved health, financial responsibility, personal productivity, and better relationships.

Relationships are key in the world of insurance. Whether it’s the relationships our advisors build with their customers, the relationship of management with its teams, or the relationships between insurers and their solution providers, the ultimate success of an insurance company rests on the strength of its relationships.

Over the past few years, I’ve experienced firsthand various levels of relationship engagement between insurers and their vendors/partners. And while the words can be used interchangeably, I’m including both “vendors” and “partners” here intentionally—the success of the business relationship often rests on how much each party views the exchange as a long-term, committed partnership as opposed to merely one between a vendor and client.

So as we watch our Twitter feeds—increasingly populated with announcements of insurers engaging with insurtech firms to enhance customer experience, streamline underwriting, improve claims operations, and launch new markets and lines of business—here are four resolutions that insurers and their partners can make for 2020 to ensure success:

  1. Be more transparent. One of the biggest issues that can cause problems is a lack of transparency from the insurer or the partner. This is especially true at the beginning of the engagement, as each party works to solidify the details of the relationship, so both sides tend to stay more focused on the positive side of things. But that beginning phase also establishes a basis of trust, so it’s even more imperative to be open and honest at that time. For insurers, it’s important to be transparent about the challenges the organization is facing and any resource/technology/approval issues that could come into play. For partners, avoiding overstating capabilities or time lines for future enhancements is equally important—underselling and overdelivering sets a great basis for a partnership that can grow.
  2. Communicate more regularly. Establishing regular check-ins and communicating openly about the relationship can help ensure that stakeholders on both sides feel informed and secure. This tends to happen more often at the beginning of the partnership or at the project level—especially between project managers and technology teams. But maintaining that communication is key to staying aligned on expectations. Individuals charged with the success of the partnership (e.g., marketing, sales, claims, underwriting, distribution, etc.) can benefit from regularly scheduled meetings to evaluate KPIs, receive updates on new products, and address any emerging challenges either party is facing.
  3. Share more information. Information is power, and sharing information in both directions helps improve the performance within the partnership. For insurers, this means sharing data that can help the partner develop metrics to promote the value of the firm to investors, clients, and other key stakeholders. For solution providers, this means sharing information on new product development, road maps, and—back to the transparency issue—any gaps in performance that may affect the insurer. The more information that is shared, the better both parties can do with anticipating future needs and growing the value of the partnership.
  4. Give more support. A true partnership is one where both parties benefit and are willing to come to the table when needed. Solution providers—especially start-ups, like many of the emerging insurtech firms—need support from their clients to help demonstrate their value. This means joint press releases to announce new partnerships, quotes and references for prospects and analysts, and even time committed to speaking at industry events and webinars on behalf of the partner. When a solution provider is helping you clear obstacles and solve challenges, help them demonstrate that success to the world. In return, they’ll have the resources to grow their solutions to help meet more of your needs in the future.

These four resolutions may feel familiar—they’re similar to the things we can do to make our interpersonal relationships stronger. We all want more honesty, communication, information, and support in our relationships. At the end of the day, relationships between companies are really just relationships between people. So let’s make 2020 the year where we improve our relationships—and our partnerships—for the benefit of the insurance industry as a whole.

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