Amerisure: Enhancing culture through technology
Founded in 1912, Amerisure’s longevity is a testament to the value of building strong business relationships and a justification of its enduring focus on this aspect of insurance. Headquartered in Farmington Hills, Michigan, the company has been on a century-long quest to make America’s workplaces safer, solve real world problems, and deliver a superior level of service across the board. Specifically targeting the construction, manufacturing, and healthcare markets, Amerisure is a true industry-leading specialist that’s ushering in a new insurance standard.
The company offers a comprehensive line of Property & Casualty insurance products to protect both businesses and their employees. Currently ranked as one of the US’ top 100 providers, Amerisure is guided by six values:
Speaking with Laura Pierman and Kevin Clary, VP of Claim Operations and VP of Risk Management respectively, makes it abundantly clear that Amerisure is just as concerned with fostering its internal relationships as external. Both long-term employees (Pierman has 32 years of service and Clary has 23), they paint a compelling picture of a company whose commitment hasn’t wavered, and which still feels excited about insurance’s place in modern life. “Amerisure has a really focused organisational strategy,” states Clary, “one that’s all about delivering superior service.” Pierman agrees, “What's kept me here is the consistent focus on providing exceptional service and building relationships cross-functionally across and outside the organisation.”
Interestingly, although the world has undoubtedly changed since its establishment, Clary says that the challenges and opportunities of insurance have broadly remained the same. In the modern era, for example, the integration of digital technology is front and centre of the industry’s mind, but Amerisure is cognizant that its use in the enhancement of partnerships will be the ultimate decider of value. “How do you enhance partnerships and relationships through digital interaction while still maintaining a personal touch?” he asks.
Amerisure’s first step in answering that question was understanding contemporary customers. “Our customers are becoming larger and more sophisticated, which in turn demands greater digital interaction regarding the delivery of data insights,” Clary continues. However, the age of technology being an end unto itself is over. Now, technology has become so ingrained that customers expect a high standard of digital experience ubiquitously and it cannot serve as a differentiator by itself. Instead, gaining a competitive edge rests on a company’s ability to deliver a superior experience and Pierman suggests that this is where Amerisure’s targeted focus on specific industries pays off. “We're able to focus on a small group of agency customers with whom we have very strong relationships. We can then respond to what they need and get feedback to aid our decision-making and ensure we're providing the right solutions.”
Finding the perfect solution, of course, is difficult without the help of a partner ecosystem, and Amerisure employs a highly methodical approach to ensure it maximises interaction. “We learned early on not to search for a technology and then look for a problem it could solve. By identifying our core opportunities first, we can instead work with the startup ecosystem to find companies that have the perfect solution,” says Clary. Amerisure’s own innovation department, launched in 2018, adds further definition to the company’s resource planning.
Perhaps one the company’s most notable tech innovations has been the utilisation of texting in its claims process. Pierman explains further, “When it comes to telephone calls, we found it was difficult to contact workers in order to get more information about their claims. What we found was that a lot of people were not picking up the phone because they didn't recognise the Amerisure number - many of us don't answer our phone when we don't recognise a number; you just let it go to voicemail. Texting has allowed our adjusters to have those conversations, even when the claimant is working, and exchange information much faster and more seamlessly.” This is a perfect example of Amerisure getting to know its policyholders and innovating accordingly: texting has become a way of life for many, particularly among younger generations, and the added comfort provided by the company instantly led to an improved relationship.
Zipwhip: Supporting Amerisure every step of the way
Implementing texting into Amerisure’s operations was always going to take dedicated expertise to execute, and the company found it in Zipwhip.
Based in Seattle, Washington, Zipwhip was the first mobile phone operator to enable texting on existing business phone numbers. It continues to maintain this leadership by developing application programming interfaces (APIs) and software for enterprise customers, of which it has over 30,000.
When asked why Amerisure ultimately chose Zipwhip, Pierman summarises, “A lot of it came down to culture. With vendor relationships, you really need to evaluate how well the two companies could work together and whether you have similar goals. Zipwhip was very transparent: it delivered on everything it promised, worked with us on a proof of concept to demonstrate the technology’s value, and hit all our targets.”
Best of all, the relationship is far from over - a new text translation feature is set to be a game changer for Amerisure. “The ability to communicate with injured workers for whom English isn't a first language is huge for us. Zipwhip is right there with Amerisure every single step of the way and continues to be.”
Texting isn’t the only example of tech-based innovation at Amerisure - both the claims and risk management departments (engaged in “a friendly competition” according to Pierman) are constantly examining other areas for digital optimisation. These include:
- Usage-based insurance
- Virtual reality
- Artificial intelligence (AI)
- Digitised ‘moments of truth’
- AI and machine learning
“Our interest is in technology that helps our agency customers and policyholders and drives better results,” emphasises Clary. “In these areas, we're starting to already see some added value.”
With so much transformative potential at hand, it could be easy to become overwhelmed or careless about implementation. However, Amerisure is taking a meticulous approach and will be doing a lot of “heavy lifting” over the next 24 months to ensure its core systems are ready for delivering truly next-gen insurance solutions. “Updating our policy and billing system and our core claim system is where our time and energy will be focused,” states Pierman. Furthermore, the company will be closely adhering to “cross-functionality” as its watchword: “In this day and age, with such limited resources, whether dollars or people, the more that you can utilise technological solutions that span across multiple areas of the organisation, the better.” In this way, Amerisure will be able to reduce its overall technology investment while still benefiting its customers and more effectively utilising key resources.
When Pierman says “it's a fun time to be in the industry,” it’s hard not to believe her. Amerisure might have a long past but its sights are set firmly on the future, and its strategy is both bold and conscientious of the role that people play in maximising technology’s potential. “Every company has a culture for which it’s known, and tech should enhance that,” she adds. For Amerisure, being ‘people-centric’ is at the heart of its ethos, a goal it’s determined to achieve in the best way possible. This might mean experimenting and iterating quickly, but the company is unafraid of the challenge, “Sometimes things don't go as planned, but it's important to keep looking for those quick wins to gain momentum and support within the organisation and with customers. You can always build from there.”
Finally, Clary states that Amerisure’s corporate buy-in, from top to bottom, is what will ultimately enable it to succeed within insurance’s exciting new paradigm. “Change can't be achieved in a silo,” he concludes. “The whole company is focusing on digital and its place in an ever-changing world. We're helping our policyholders improve their loss ratio while also optimising their operations. You have to have an organisational support strategy in place to move forward in an effective way.”
- Laura Pierman