Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection: Ahead of the Digital Insurance Curve

When it comes to keeping up with tech innovation, we don’t usually think of insurance carriers as leading the charge; traditionally slow to adopt, the insurance industry takes a more wait-and-see stance. But profitable growth is a priority for insurance carriers—and the most effective way to create growth is by increasing distribution and reducing attrition. To do this, leading carriers are implementing technology that provides intelligent and personalized products and services to their customers.  Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection (BHTP) engaged Bluewolf to build a new mobile-enabled travel insurance app on the Salesforce1 platform. BHTP’s AirCare can rebook a missed connection automatically, help replace lost luggage quickly, and even save you a seat in the VIP Lounge. Live service is just a tweet, text, web chat, or call away. With the introduction of AirCare in May of 2014, BHTP became the first travel insurance company to address consumers’ travel woes by offering a simple, fixed-benefit travel insurance product.   We caught up with BHTP’s Vice President of Innovation, Josh Jandrain, to learn more about their journey to become an industry leader in today’s digital world. MP: Why has the insurance industry been slower to adopt new technologies?  JJ: It’s not that they’ve been slower to adopt new technologies. They’ve been more focused on changing their core administration platforms to make themselves more competitive in the new world of digital insurance.  As these carriers wrap up these projects, they’ll be able to reallocate resources on digital distribution. Startup insurance companies, like ourselves, certainly have an advantage because they aren’t burdened with legacy platforms. MP: How have customers’ expectations changed?  JJ:  First, I’d say that customers expect more transparency from their insurance company, especially during the claims process. Second, customers want an omni-channel customer service approach—if they can tweet you, switch to email, then onto web chat and your customer service agents can pick up where the previous interaction ended, customers will love engaging with you. Finally, customer expectations are so high nowadays that if an insurer delivers one bad claim experience, the customer is very likely to switch carriers. MP: What did you do at BHTP to streamline both the policyholder experience and the agent experience?  JJ: We built an engaging mobile and web experience. Through the intelligent use of data received from our customers and from various other sources, we’ve made it easy to buy, claim, and get service via our mobile app, social media, web portals, and on the phone. Our innovative system can submit a claim on a customer’s behalf, adjudicate, and pay it —in minutes. We are in the process of rolling out technology with a partner that allows us to deposit funds to a customer's existing debit card within seconds.  MP: What was the most challenging part about building your AirCare product?  JJ: We consume and process data from many different sources to deliver on the promises we make with AirCare. Insurance technologists know that the complexity of auto-adjudicating claims in a traditional manner is extremely difficult—there are so many scenarios to account for. Air travel is anything but predictable, so accounting for all of those scenarios was a monumental task.   MP: What advice would you give to other insurance companies who want to embark on a similar journey with Salesforce to streamline the agent and customer experience?  JJ: 
  1. Spend more time learning what your employees and customers will want to report out on. Taking more time upfront to consider these items would have been a huge time-saver.
  2. Understand the principles of “design thinking.” Make sure the design and user experience of your product are dialed-in before you scale.  
  3. Get your business users involved and knowledgeable about what the platform has to offer and what's possible. Make a point to develop Salesforce evangelists in every department of your business, and send them to Dreamforce as often as possible so they can see first-hand what others are doing to innovate on the platform.
Want to learn more about how BHTP is leading the charge in omni-channel customer experience? Register for Josh Jandrain’s breakout session at Dreamforce on Tuesday, 9/15 at 11:00AM PST.   

Bluewolf, an IBM Company, is a global consulting agency and proven Salesforce strategic partner that builds digital solutions designed to create results. Now.