2 min read October 2021 — Zander Insurance offers services that extend through all insurance lines, including term life, long-term disability, identity theft protection, auto, homeowners, commercial, and benefits. In an interview with Invest:, Shervin Eftekhari, president of Zander Insurance, discusses the impact of the pandemic on the insurance industry, the intertwining of big data and AI into insurance, legislative complications and his outlook.
How has the pandemic impacted risk-management strategies?
There has been an impact on how people work and how businesses operate, which has affected their insurance strategies. For instance, on the employee benefits side, there is the rise of telemedicine. This has become a more cost-effective way of receiving care while not increasing risk. Telemedicine will remain a permanent part of strategies going forward. On the life insurance side, insurance companies were forced to gather health records electronically and access data in new ways to accommodate people being fearful or unable to complete a life insurance medical exam. These events have changed how insurance companies gather information and assess risk.
How integrated is big data into the insurance industry?
With employee benefits, for instance, data is being used to determine insurance limits, needed retention levels, claim scenarios, premiums, and all of the components of the risk-management program. On the other hand, we’ve noticed that life and disability insurance companies are more willing to use big data for underwriting decisions. In the past five years, many startup Insurtech insurance companies have doubled down on their attempt to use big data to make instant decisions on life insurance applications. The risk they take is that, if they miscalculate mortality risk, it could be fatal to their business. Interestingly, these startups have pushed the established life and disability insurance companies to adopt straight-through underwriting processes to be competitive. The result is quicker underwriting decisions, using big data and reducing the reliance on medical exams and client’s medical records. The established companies are well-positioned to succeed in this new world. They have access to capital and data and a large client base to draw from so they can assess risk and set proper premiums.
How intertwined is big data and artificial intelligence with Zander Insurance’s offerings?
Big data and AI are playing a significant role in helping us make strategic and tactical decisions. They play a role in our marketing department, lead scoring, and help with operational efficiency. AI will eventually make customer service more efficient, and we use AI in our quoting and application process. It touches nearly every corner of the company. We have multiple product offerings, and the innovations derived from big data and artificial intelligence have affected those products differently.
What legislation are you paying attention to?
For us, the legislation we’re primarily watching doesn’t have to do with insurance exclusively but more so with our ability to contact our clients and prospects. Regulations such as TCPA and STIR/SHAKEN, which went into effect in July 2021, affect how and when we can reach out to our clients. The regulations are well-intentioned. No one likes to get annoying telemarketing calls or calls from spoofed numbers. But there are unintended consequences for the insurance industry since we need to be able to continue offering products and services to our clients as their insurance needs change. These regulations create a level of complexity for our fellow insurance agencies and us. It is essential for insurance agents to service their clients’ accounts and make sure they are properly mitigating risk.
What is your outlook for Zander and Nashville?
At Zander, we’re bullish on our growth strategy over the next five years. One of the challenges going forward is recruiting. We have around 200 employees, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we increase our staff to 400 to 500 team members within the next five years. There’s a lot of opportunity for growth, but we need to find talent to make it happen. On a positive note, Nashville attracts people who want to move here for our lifestyle, business climate and cost of living. I’ve been here for eight years, and I’ve watched the acceleration of the rate of growth. If I had to guess, over the next five to 10 years, we’re going to see further acceleration of growth in this region. One of the things I noticed upon moving from the Washington, D.C. area is that Nashville has a pro-business, pro-entrepreneur culture with a low-tax environment and smart regulations. There is less political back and forth and more clear-eyed decisions regarding what’s best for the business ecosystem. As Nashville grows, that will present the opportunity for us to grow alongside businesses and individuals that need our help.
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