A focus on stability, innovation and customer service can help the industry navigate uncertain times. (Photo: iStock)

Not so long ago, the market and broader economy were in a freefall. Eventually, the Dow Jones would hit a market low of 6,443.27 — 54 percent off its 2007 high, according to MarketWatch. Today, eight years removed from the beginning of the financial crisis and with the Dow now above 18,000, macroeconomic indicators are pointing toward improvement. However markets are still plagued by a veritable storm of potential risk.

Just over the course of the last few weeks, experts have wondered openly whether Brexit is today’s version of the Lehman Brothers collapse, while economic gauges in the U.S. have hinted at underlying vulnerabilities and an unprecedented presidential race has shattered long-held assumptions. At such a time, there are a handful of key lessons and beliefs that I have adopted during my time in the insurance industry that give me confidence and which other business leaders may find value in.

The 2008 crisis spurred industry changes that are being felt to this day. A number of firms consolidated as international concerns purchased U.S. companies while other competitors restructured, honed their offerings and, in some cases, even abandoned certain insurance business lines. Even as the business evolves, risks expand and the technology changes on an almost daily basis, a few core beliefs remain as important as ever to help our industry navigate through uncertain times.

Stability

This must always be a successful company’s North Star. This is especially true in our industry where we help provide stability to our policyholders during a period of uncertainty. A purposeful, long-term focus on financial stability can help our industry perform strongly through short-term squalls in the economy.

Innovation 

There’s no doubt that technology and cultural dynamics have changed the way we make purchases, our buying motivations, and our delivery expectations. This is true if you’re a baby boomer or a millennial. As an example, today’s customers are used to seeing fast and easy approvals in virtually every other purchase they make. Non-fluid underwriting and e-Apps are industry innovations that have helped us meet customer expectations. The key to long-term growth, even through challenging times is to increase our knowledge of our customers’ changing needs and adjust.

Dedicated customer service 

Whether in terms of support teams, technology or guidance, we need to support our distribution partners and our policy holders at every contact point. This also means having an engaged home office team, including senior leaders who are dedicated to customer satisfaction and delivering upon our commitments.

As our customers see other models of excellent customer service, they will have the same expectations of our industry, as they should. No matter what other strengths a company may enjoy, they will mean nothing if not supported by dedicated customer resources. This is critical to long-term sustainability.

For all the predictions of industry and market upheavals and for all the regulatory and political uncertainties we collectively face, these simple truths remain at the heart of how we conduct our affairs and the guiding principles we depend on as we face the future.

Any company, no matter the industry or sector, needs to be open to change and evolving circumstances. However, one without core principles faces the same risks. By staying true to the values that have led us to success, we are able to weather short-term market fluctuations and position ourselves for long-term success.

See also:

10 financial predictions for 2016

Here’s how the insurance industry can own the Digital Age

4 areas for insurance to modernize in 2016

 

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