As a traditionally rigid insurance industry becomes bogged down by antiquated processes and operations, a handful of industry leaders are seeking to shake things up and modernize how Americans view and buy insurance.
One of these leaders is Heath Ritenour, CEO of Insurance Office of America (IOA). He and his company are creating products to streamline the insurance application and approval processes, making it easier and quicker for consumers and business owners to obtain the coverages they need without losing the human touch that has always been the hallmark of the insurance industry.
The State Of The US Insurance Industry
The US insurance industry hasn’t significantly evolved in more than 100 years. Even the commercialization of technology has barely nudged the way consumers purchase life, auto and car insurance. Insurance innovator Heath Ritenour is critical of the amount of information that insurance companies ask of their customers, and the time it takes from application to coverage. Says Ritenour, “I still see a lot of the national insurance brokers and the national insurance carriers that are pretty much stuck in their old ways of growing by acquisition, doing things the way they used to, not really being innovative”.
The typical consumer still purchases insurance in person or by speaking with their agent on the phone, filling out lengthy applications and waiting for approval. However, consumers are ready for a change. According to one survey, consumers, especially millennials, “expect new services, innovative features and an on-demand user experience”. Those insurance companies who are unable or unwilling to change stand to lose a lot. The total insurance industry is valued at more than $4.5 trillion.
The Change Ritenour Envisions
Ritenour envisions an insurance industry that’s adaptive and sensitive to the needs of the consumer without losing what the insurance industry has always done well; connecting with people. That’s why he and the team at IOA created SimplyIOA. This software uses information about the consumer that’s already out there in the public domain and automatically fills in the application. The consumer merely has to verify this information.
As an example, Heath Ritenour explains that the typical home insurance application currently asks about 70 questions and the typical car insurance application asks another 50 questions. Depending on the consumer’s answers to those questions, there may even be more questions. Ritenour continues, “With SimplyIOA, we ask your name and your date of birth, and we will automatically pull up the home that you live in and the address, the year that it was built, the year that any of the plumbing was replaced, the roof was replaced, we will also pull the VIN numbers of the vehicles that are garaged at that address.” Many of these things are answers that the individual doesn’t even know without doing a little research. Thus, automation is key to saving time, energy, and effort.
The entire SimplyIOA process takes around three minutes. That’s a lot more convenient than the typical 45 minutes to an hour it takes to complete a traditional application. However, that doesn’t mean that technology has replaced the human touch. IOA agents are available via live chat, phone or even by Zoom to answer any questions a consumer might have while filling out the application. “What we want to avoid,” says Ritenour, ” is people having to wait on hold for 20 minutes just to ask a simple question”.
Heath Ritenour And The Future of Insurance
CEO Heath Ritenour and IOA are in negotiations with several big technology names and other insurance companies to make SimplyIOA available to consumers all over the country. While the specifics are still in motion, Ritenour looks forward to big things happening in the arena in the next three to six months.
Already, IOA has partnered with Zenith Insurance Company, a provider of workman’s compensation insurance. With Zenith, IOA has introduced a software product called Zenia Insures, available predominantly to restaurants in Florida at this point. Using this product, restaurant owners can fill out a simplified application on their computer. According to Ritenour, “You answer those few questions, this is literally like a two or three-minute journey, and you automatically get a price. That price is a 5% discount from standard rates for restaurants.” The company is working on similar products designed for other industries.
About Heath Ritenour
Heath Ritenour joined IOA in 1996 as an agent. He became CEO in 2008 and Chairman in 2018. During his tenure, the company has grown to be the 11th largest privately-held insurance company in the United States. In addition to his role as Chairman and CEO of IOA, Heath is the President of the IOA Foundation, an organization that works at giving back to the Central Florida community through charitable programs, fundraising drives and sponsored sporting events. These annual events include the highly anticipated LPGA’s IOA Classic. Heath Ritenour also sits on the Board of Central Florida’s Cogent Bank.
Heath Ritenour has earned several honors over the years. In 2018, he was named a “CEO of the Year” honoree by Orlando Business Journal, and in 2020, he was named to Insurance Business magazine’s “Top 100 Hot List”.
About Insurance Office of America
Founded in 1984 by Heath’s father, John Ritenour, Insurance Office of America is headquartered in Longwood, Florida. The company has more than 60 locations across the United States and in the United Kingdom. Over the years, the company has grown from a three-person operation to one that now employs more than 1,300 team members. In 2019, Insurance Journal named IOA to its list of “Top 100 Independent Property/Casualty Agencies in the United States”. That same year, Business Insurance magazine ranked the company 23rd on its list of “100 Largest Brokers in the US.”