Wikipedia refers to Web 2.0 as “web development and web design that facilitates interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design and collaboration on the World Wide Web”. For the insurance industry that thrives on information and communication, one would consider the advent of new technologies that enable social networking, a web 2.0 tool, a godsend. But has the insurance industry adopted social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn etc. with the expected gusto? Probably not, if industry analysts’ reports are anything to go by.
As I see it, the insurance industry is probably the best suited to leverage social networking to the fullest for a variety of reasons (not in any particular order)
• A huge workforce – both direct (employees, career agents) and indirect (insurance brokers, other channels)
• A demanding client base of various ages, financial background
• Dependence on paper and people – for underwriting and servicing insurance policies
• Operational areas working in silos – limited room for collaboration
• A constant need to liaise with various partners - doctors, labs, Motor Vehicle Office, Claims Adjusters, regulators etc.
• A large variety and amount of information to share with its internal and external constituents - changes in rules, policy updates, new product launches, rate quotes and the like.
But many insurers feel they have gone the full distance after they set up a wiki site to enhance internal communication. Why is it so?
One reason for the limited adoption of social networking tools from the carrier side could be the insurance industry’s traditionally conservative approach to new technologies and business practices. And then there is the question of security - social networking often involves sharing sensitive and personal information.
Any thoughts on insurance-specific inhibitors that could be holding back the insurers in whole-heartedly embracing social networking?