Two companies that provide strategic marketing and online technology expertise for the life and health insurance industry have joined forces. IdeaStar Inc., a full-service Web development firm which designs, programs, hosts and promotes leading-edge Web sites and e-business applications for the insurance industry and ASK Insurance Consulting, LLC. Together, the companies focus on the use of Internet technology to benefit the insurance industry.
Two companies that provide strategic marketing and online technology expertise for the life and health insurance industry have joined forces. IdeaStar Inc. ( http://www.ideastar.com ) , a full-service Web development firm which designs, programs, hosts and promotes leading-edge Web sites and e-business applications for the insurance industry and ASK Insurance Consulting, LLC ( http://www.askinsuranceconsulting.com )recently formed a strategic alliance. ASK, owned and operated by insurance and technology veteran Mark Seghers, stands for Acquire Strategic Knowledge.
Together, the companies focus on the use of Internet technology to benefit the insurance industry. “It’s a perfect match,” Mr. Seghers said. “IdeaStar specializes in solutions ( http:www.insurance-technologies.com/products.aspx ) such as online agent recruitment, quote engines, and e-signature enrollments. ASK Consulting specializes in e-commerce strategies for insurance companies.”
Mr. Seghers explained that sometimes insurance companies need outside assistance to help them think about and decide how they should take advantage of technology. This is where ASK comes in. “Then, once it becomes clear to the insurance company what they should be doing and why, often times the next step of Web design and development will align with the products and skills of IdeaStar,” Mr. Seghers said.
Mike Wise, VP Insurance Technologies ( http://www.insurance-technologies.com ) with IdeaStar, added, “Over and over again these past few years, it has proven to be extremely difficult for insurance companies to use internal resources to develop successful e-commerce marketing sites. They either don’t have the time or the expertise – or both. Conversely, those that have chosen to use IdeaStar have been universally successful in their e-commerce approach.”
The IdeaStar/ASK alliance benefits insurance carriers as they move from thought to strategy to build to execution. “They can expect on a smooth transition through out the process,” Mr. Seghers said. “ASK and IdeaStar know each other and have enjoyed strong communication in the past; we can help our mutual client every step of the way and maintain efficiency,” Mr. Seghers said. He added agents and customers of a carrier benefit by being able to use and enjoy the well-envisioned, proven, and highly functional Web capabilities.
E-business is fast becoming a standard in the health and life insurance industry. Mr. Seghers noted, “’E-business’ is a term that has been a bit ballyhooed in recent years, due to the hype and eventual bubble-burst of the Internet in its early days. The Internet was going to eliminate insurance agents, make insurance less expensive, and revolutionize the industry in a matter of a few years. As we all know, that did not happen. However, just because the Internet did not redefine the industry overnight, we must not lose site of the real and exciting benefits a well thought-out and systematically deployed Internet solution can provide to help agents and policyholders do business more efficiently.
“The Internet, because of its ubiquity and ease of use, can help reduce expenses, eliminate paperwork, and increase the speed with which we do business,” Mr. Seghers continued. These benefits in turn drive agent loyalty, help customers find loyal agents, and in turn can drive steadily increasing sales and retention metrics. These days, it’s less about “just do it” and more about doing it right. Doing it right means considering the outside-in perspective - serving the needs of your most valuable constituents, and leveraging the help of valuable outside partners who are in touch with the industry and are familiar with the best of what is available to improve your business.”
According to Mr. Seghers and Mr. Wise, there are still those insurance carriers who either have chosen to intentionally opt-out of e-business or who are trying to make the transition using inexperienced resources. “These carriers are unknowingly running their businesses less efficiently, are losing agents and policy holders to competitors, and ultimately will be forced to have higher prices due to their lack of efficient handling of business and customer service.
"Every month they choose to delay their implementation of e-business offerings such as electronic submission of new business, agent and policy holder portals, online customer service, etc., they are helping their competitors widen the gap in the eyes of their most valuable constituents," Mr. Seghers said.
Mr. Wise added, “I had a conversation today, 9/5, with one of the largest affinity-group marketers and administrators in the country. They ran a customer survey recently: 63% of respondents preferred the Internet as a “buying mode.” The next highest was 46% face-to-face. And 44% want to use their credit card for premiums. One of their largest carriers just gave them the green light to use e-signature. So clearly, the mass-market of carriers and their marketers is starting to move at last. I’m personally very pleased that Mark Seghers, with his tremendous background in e-commerce, has taken the jump to independent consulting. Over the next few years, a few fortunate insurance companies will reap the benefits of his experience and knowledge.”
About IdeaStar Insurance Technologies ( http://www.insurance-technologies.com ):
IdeaStar specializes in Web-enabling insurance processes. Hosted systems include online agent enrollment, quote-through-issue with e-signature, and the integration of Web processes with back-end carrier and agency systems.
For its work on QQLink, an online health and life quote-through-Issue paperless system, IdeaStar and its client won the Honorable Mention Award at A.M. Best’s 2003 E-Fusion Conference on Insurance Driven Technology. Again in 2004, another IdeaStar client, America’s Healthcare/Rx Plan, was selected as one of 6 Finalists for the A.M. Best’s 2004 E-Fusion Award in the category of Agent-Broker Management.
About ASK Insurance Consulting LLC: ( www.askinsuranceconsulting.com )
ASK (Acquire Strategic Knowledge) Insurance Consulting is operated by Mark Seghers, a veteran of insurance technology. He honed his insurance IT expertise at such places as NORVAX, Fortis (now Assurant) and American Medical Security.
For more information contact:
Mike Wise, IdeaStar VP of Insurance Technologies at 216-674-1600 ext 116.
Mark Seghers, ASK Insurance Consulting, LLC at (262) 271-0217.