Insurance professionals need to be a lot of things—experienced, detail-oriented, team players, patient, problem solvers…empathetic. Since policyholders are nearly always experiencing loss when filing a claim, the individual helping them must provide support beyond financial. And the numbers back this up: in fact, 91 percent of CEOs believe empathy in insurance has a positive effect on financial performance.
With profitability as the main goal, it can be easy to get caught up in daily tasks, but at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that insurance is about people. Unless you insure robots, policyholders have feelings and it’s important to understand that. Empathy in insurance is essential for that reason. Everyone, from managers to adjusters, needs to have the ability to meet their employees and clients in a space where they feel their concerns are valid.
How to Be Empathetic
Insurance is a complicated business. While the ultimate goal is to make money, it is crucial you don’t forget this is a human industry. When you’re speaking with policyholders, it’s usually because they’re having one of the worst days of their lives. Maybe their home was destroyed by fire or natural disaster, or a pipe burst while they were on vacation—flooding their belongings, or maybe a car wreck has totaled the vehicle they need to get to work. Whatever the reason they have to talk to you, it’s imperative that you remain focused on them, and not just the policy.
There are a lot of ways to express empathy in insurance:
Listen: When a policyholder calls and is explaining their situation, don’t get caught up in efficiency. While they want to know what their settlement will be, they also need an ear to listen. Listen completely, don’t multitask. If you’re face-to-face, look them in the eye, keep your body language open and don’t interrupt them.
Be genuine: Ask questions about how they are doing before getting into the nitty-gritty business; it will help you grasp just how they’re feeling so you can proceed in a way that makes the most sense.
Explain, explain, explain: When it comes time to discuss the policy itself, it’s important to explain the claims process, what their policy states and make sure they understand completely before proceeding.
Put yourself in their shoes: Remember, this person is facing a crisis. If you were in their situation, what would you want to hear? How would you want to be treated? What kind of support would you need?
You probably learned about empathy from a young age, except you may have heard it in the form of the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. This is important to remember in the insurance industry. When it comes to hiring new employees, especially management, empathy needs to be—if not the highest priority— one of the first soft skills you look for.
If you’re in need of individuals who can balance making a profit while taking care of people in a positive way, partner with The James Allen Companies. Our team of recruiters recognize talent and skill, but also recognize if someone has what it takes to treat policyholders and other team members with empathy and value. Don’t let your company’s reputation suffer from a lack of empathy—contact us today to see how we can help your business.