Insurance: Agent or Buy Online?

Q. Insurance: Agent or Buy Online?

Insurance can be broken down into two different groups, agent providers and online providers. Many people enjoy having a single insurance agent that can provide for all of their needs. If you need a policy changed or want to make a payment you can just contact your agent. The number and size of online insurance providers is also growing. Many Generation Y individuals are very comfortable buying insurance (and most any product) online. I enjoy having an agent that I can contact. I also enjoy being able to pay my bill and make minor policy changes online. I am able to do both with my current insurance company. I don’t think I can sign up for insurance online though without going through an agent. Questions 1)Do you prefer to work with an agent or buy insurance online? In general are you comfortable buying things online? 2)Which do you think will win in the end, Agent or Online? Do you think both will always coexist because some people like buying on line and some like having a personal agent. 3)Do you think there is anyway to combine the two selling models? Maybe an insurance company that can provide a policy over the internet and has agents.


A. The type of "pricing strategies" that DR refers to must have been created by an accountant as a sick joke! I don’t know of any other industries where major global institutions have so readily bought into a philosophy of creating inferior products, selling them at unsustainable prices and hoping that, between clever wordings, clever investments and/or luck that they will escape terminal reputational damage….or is that just a variation on the theme that has brought the global banking system to its knees!? 


We know insurance is a grudge purchase and the sooner insurers recognise that they cannot create a pricing model so cheap as to change that fact the better!


They Gen Y/X discussion has relevance but I think it is more to do with the values or expectations of the environments (era) in which they have formed their view of the world. Both can be equally at home with the IT skills required to transact insurance and many other things online.


I like Allen’s thinking but reckon that the answer lies with the creators of the products to get less (financially) smart and get back to the business of offering the protection and "peace of mind" that people should expect from such a purchase. IF they asked their policyholders is that not what they would be told? Efficiency and integrity are always high on client wishlists…so they should be.


We understand the handling processes, accounting, and regulatory needs. Where once we were reliant upon a back office reminiscent of a Dickens novel, we now have the technology to manage multiple processes. The technology also copes with the most complex pricing models. So that is the transactional functions catered for. The trick is what to do next? Many have tried to continue the theme believing that IT and commoditisation of more and more products was the route.


I’m not going to spell it out but "relationships" do not exist between Gen Y (or X) and technology in whatever form. Stable, profitable relationships are built between individuals. The two are not mutually exclusive and it is surely a case of deploying both to best serve the needs of the end user in a manner that they determine NOT that is dictated to them!!!


But it only really works if you combine it with products that deliver what they promise i.e. value NOT price.


Warren Buffett called it right when he said "Price is what you pay value is what you get". 


David G Wilson

Strategic Development Director

28th January 2009


Homecoming Scotland 2009

Q: Is Homecoming going to be good for Scottish businesses, helping them through the recession, or should the money be spent elsewhere?


The current state of the pound will almost certainly boost the numbers attending “Homecoming” events.


Whether additional numbers come from resident Scots: lacking the confidence to commit to foreign travel; unable to afford to travel abroad; or those determined to wait until the travel industry start slashing prices. In addition, as a nation (once) renowned for fiscal prudence, there must be plenty of astute ex-pat Scots who recognise the value to be had in UK at this time. Whether they get the real value they seek will only be determined by the investment in the events rather than the amount spent on promoting them. I am not in a position to comment specifically but I wish I had a greater level of faith that it isn’t just about the latter.


Spending a further £500k, presumably on encouraging domiciled Scots out to support events, does make sense and if that makes them tourists within the definition then great. In the current climate, when we hear daily news of numbers so large they were once exclusively the domain of playground boasts, to spend less than £2m with the aim of attracting £40m seems like a better opportunity than some of the outrageous bets placed on our behalf by our most trusted financial institutions.


For once, it would be a pleasant change to hear our political parties pulling together in such difficult times to support an initiative intended to be about national pride. Instead of trying to make some political mileage by spouting about promoting “nationalism”.


Finally, I would like to recommend a series of low cost events that would, undoubtedly, enjoy enormous support from home and abroad…


In the continued absence of any real censure for the financial greed mongers who chose to flout regulation, abandon good governance and abuse the trust placed in them (in pursuit of personal glory and wealth) I would suggest a range of punishments to be meted out by members of the public. Everything from wet sponges to a modern version of medieval stocks or ducking stool. £1 per capita from each “tourist” should be sufficient to contribute a substantial amount to the costs for the Homecoming year, Sky/Setanta/CNBC may be interested in coverage and, whilst it may not do much for public confidence, it would certainly do a lot for the nation’s feelgood factor.


David G Wilson



Key lessons from the book: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a great personal development book, my favourite in its category. It can change your life if you follow it principles. Today, I would like to review the key lessons from the book. 

Key notes:

  • Character and value based ethics (not personality based).
  • Realities and values. Paradigm shift, Difference between principles and values.
  • Effective habits are internalised principles and patterns of behaviour.
  • Maturity continuum – dependence, independence and interdependence
  • Effectiveness and P/PC balance

Habit 1

Be proactive, use your resourcefulness and initiative, do solution selling, act and not be acted upon, proactive language, subordinate feelings to values. Focus on the circle of influence and not the circle of concern. Focus on the ‘be’ as in ‘I can be’ not ‘have’ as in ‘if I have’. Consequences and mistakes are in the circle of concern. Learn from them. Make and keep commitments – Self-awareness and conscience to become aware of strengths and weaknesses and imagination and independent will to make promises, set goals and build strength of character.

Habit 2

All things are created twice. Whether by design or default is in your hands. Take charge of the first creation. Leadership and management. What lies in the centre is the source of your security, guidance, wisdom and power. Principle centre puts all other centres in perspective. Visualise and affirm. A personal mission statement.

Habit 3

Habit 1 and 2 is the foundation where you understand your paradigms and how to shift them. Become incharge with habit 1 and do the first or mental creation with habit 2. Habit 3 teaches effective self-management. Focus on the second quadrant of important but not urgent. Harmony, unity and integrity between your roles and goals, priorities nad plans and desire and discipline. Balance between health, family, professional and personal development.

Six major deposits in emotional bank account – understand the individual, attend to little things, keep commitments, clarify expectations, apologise sincerely if you withdraw.

Habit 4

Think win/win. Five dimensions of win/win are character (integrity, maturity with a balance for courage and consideration, abundance mentality), relationship (go beyond transactional leadership into transformation leadership), agreement (elements made explicit – desired results, guidelines, resources, accountability, consequences). Have systems and processes to support win/win

Habit 5

Seek first to understand and then be understood. Communicate empathically. Don’t prescribe without diagnosis. Do not project your autobiography as a response.

Habit 6

Synergise. Levels of communication are defensive (win/lose), respectful (compromise) and synergistic (win/win). Value the differences.

Habit 7

Sharpen the saw with balanced self-renewal. Physical, spiritual, mental and social/emotional balance. Inside-out approach.

Buy The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People from Amazon.