why agents and carriers need single line of sight on customers

Chad Combs, VP of Personal Lines Underwriting for Ohio Mutual Insurance Group, left Nationwide because he couldn’t affect enough real change in the IA channel. Now, he’s leveraging the power of data to help OMIG and his agent partners collaborate on elevating the customer experience. Honored to have a do-er and believer like Chad join us!

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Syd Roe 0:00

What’s up guys. Syd Roe here and I am bringing to you two very special guests. The one and only Seth Zaremba live and in-person ready to kick some insurance podcast but and we’ve got Chad Combs, the Vice President of personalized underwriting from Ohio Mutual Insurance Group. First of all, guys, how you doing?

Chad Combs 0:28

Fantastic. Excited to be here?

Seth Zaremba 0:30

Yeah, it’s been a crazy couple days whenever you’re in town, if there’s like it’s like escalates everything because the days longer and the work stacks up. There are made a recent hire, we’re looking at vendors and then Chad comes in. Who’s How tall are you?

Chad Combs 0:45

I’m good. 6’6

Seth Zaremba 0:48

6’6 delicious.

Syd Roe 0:49

I feel incredibly short.

Chad Combs 0:50

It’s mostly muscle. That’s what you say when you’re 661 75

Seth Zaremba 0:56

I have never been around. Like if you look at the pilot agents and All that stuff that we’re talking to and just interacting, getting thoughts from at six foot three, I have never felt shorter in my life. Like, I don’t know what’s happening but all the tallest people in the industry are being attracted together. So I’m the only thing I’m on the lookout for next is Bigfoot, because that’s the only thing I can access a Sasquatch should be coming through. There we go. Yeah.

Syd Roe 1:22

Oh, man. Well, needless to say, I feel very outnumbered at five, five, I believe. So.

Syd Roe 1:30

Got a couple on me. Yeah, I make up for it in other ways.

Syd Roe 1:36

So just to give a brief introduction on why we’re all sitting around this. Well, I’m gonna call the table the corner upsets desk because that’s how we roll. Seth and I had an awesome conversation with Ohio mutual. Specifically, Mark Russell, the CEO, how we Barber, the Vice President of Sales and Dave Hendricks, the CFO We talked all things neon but they also shared a number of efforts internally that they are running towards at lightspeed to try and bring Ohio mutual to really make Ohio a mutual one of the leaders in that mutual carrier space in terms of innovation. So that, of course, got our brains rolling and we said, well, who can we get to share what’s going on inside of Ohio mutual and really expose the mindset of the behind the scenes of minds of the organization itself? and sets thought who better than Chad combs So first of all, no pressure, dude. Oh,

Chad Combs 2:44

there you go. Yeah. All right. You know, there we go.

Syd Roe 2:50

So to kick things off, give us a Give. Give our audience an idea of who you are, where you Where’d you come from, how do you how’d you get into the insurance space, and Specifically why Ohio mutual?

Chad Combs 3:02

Yeah, absolutely. Well, again, I appreciate you guys inviting me up and excited to be part of the team here. I’ve been in the industry for about 15 years. So I came from a large insurer, I came from Nationwide Insurance. I left about five years ago, and I enrolled there really varied across and it was mostly product management. So really kind of a product analytical background worked in field underwriting, worked in staff underwriting worked in corporate strategy, or was the exclusive Nationwide Insurance brand. That was my, my role in corporate strategy. So kind of various roles, but all more on more of the analytical side. And what attracted me to Ohio mutual was just a chance to be able to really do something and do something quicker, and really have that accountability and that responsibility to get it done. And I think that’s kind of what’s made it fun to work with Seth is you know, he’s got that mentality too. So it’s can we find that partnership where we can really push something forward and kind of push it to the next step and I Mutual’s that kind of company where we’re more agile, where we’re innovative, we’re willing to kind of push them Try something if it doesn’t work, hey, let’s try the next one, right? But not just regurgitating the same things over and over. So that’s my background and like, like you said, open it up right now we’re really focused on how do we drive great customer experience. And to us, that’s not only to policyholders, but that’s to our independent agents as well. And it’s been exciting. It’s really kind of making us rethink how we do things and really push a little bit. So hopefully we get to talk about that a little bit today.

Seth Zaremba 4:26

Yeah. And I think, you know, one of the weird things that we’re that’s so high mutual, we had a long-standing relationship, there actually is inks first appointment. Wow. Right. So in great people, the best people. So you get this call today that this guy Chad’s coming in, he wants to put his thumbprint on stuff and you’re a little skeptical because you’re like, Okay, here’s an outsider, coming from the Big Blue building in downtown Columbus, you know, like what’s going on? And I think we hit it off like, like, right, I mean, it was almost like an eye lock at 3030 feet. And I was like, Okay, this be interesting. And I remember sitting in our conference room and I was like, he was talking about all the things that What do you mean? Do you have data on stuff? And what do you mean about the enemy? Are we sure we’re hearing in Ohio mutual is in community and it was at when Chad and Ohio mutual walked out of that meeting, I was like, Okay, we got something here? There’s, there’s something about this higher with this group of people that could be really special and it has proven to be true. So

Chad Combs 5:21

yeah, it was fun. I mean, most agent meetings, they go pretty standard, right? You talk about performance, what do you need? What do I need? Oh, we just kind of got a little conversation. You know, halfway through was like, do we just become best friends?

Seth Zaremba 5:34

Yes. You know and like our first campaign every laughs was like, you know, like, let’s start doing campaigns and things are going to be high hit ratio for Ohio mutual. So it was really easy because Jen was working through like, Alright, well, we can discount stuff for mortgage-free. We can discount for police and fire and teachers and it was like, okay, we literally had scrolls on our site before they started widening out about if you’re a teacher, you get this discount if you’re fine. So that drove business and that was just one hand to hand transaction on more data in Formed us which changed behavior, which has grown zinc, which has grown Ohio mutual, it’s like, oh, my goodness, if you could just make that more of a technical transaction, as opposed to a face to face, there’s real horsepower in there. So chat was a big part of that.

Syd Roe 6:14

So give me a 30,000-foot view of how Ohio mutual thinking about data. We’ve already let the cat out of the bag. Right? we’ve said the data word. So let’s step back for a sec, that that’s what brought you two together. Yeah. But as you’ve got, I mean, how long have you been with Ohio? mutual for five years? Five years. Okay. So, I mean, coming in? Did they have that understanding of the fact that data is now almost becoming a weapon in the business world? It’s becoming a tool in and of itself. Did they have that understanding? And where are they now?

Chad Combs 6:52

Yeah, I think we’ve made a lot of progress. I mean, it’s funny you say like that. I think we’ve traditionally thought of, you know, our relationship. In our product, that’s our currency. And really, that’s not going to be what it is in the future. The currency is data. And it’s because it has a purpose, right? We can help solve needs with it, right? We don’t need to just sell things to sell things we should sell to the people who would really benefit from it most. And how do we really position it to those folks, and data is the way we accomplish that. So I really think that’s our currency. And a lot of what I hope to talk about today is really how do we better share that data between agents and carriers and really compile it better? I would say one of the biggest moves we’ve made in Ohio mutual around data is a lot of our data. So disaggregated, we have claims data on the corner, we have policy over here, we have quote data over there, we got product information, right? How do you start building that into one kind of master database and let it start to be instructive in predict behavior and really be able to then arm your agents with the inputs or the outputs from that. I think that’s the exciting part. We’re not there yet, but that’s what we’re trying to accomplish. But

Syd Roe 7:54

I do want to pause for a sec and acknowledge something which is that It seems like a shared struggle. So, I mean, I’ve talked to so many agencies across the country who have expressed the same frustration with disaggregated data, right? I’ve got my marketing data over here. I have my sales data here. I have my customer data over here. And so you’re telling me today, that that’s something that carriers struggle with as well. That’s a hugely Yeah. So then, to your question, how does that carrier agent relationships start to evolve? Where we, you know, maybe we’re aggregating data in the two pockets, right? Maybe we’re aggregating as a carrier as an agent, maybe it looks different. I mean, in your view, what does that aggregation look like? What does that partnership craft collaboration look like

Chad Combs 8:52

around data? Oh, it’s awesome question. And I don’t have all the answers or you know, we’d have no I didn’t you do. I know you do. But I do think it starts with some type of shared CRM, you know, where we say, here’s where it all kind of adds up together. But I don’t think we have to solve the whole thing at once. I really think the fundamental that underlies a lot of this is let’s just not I think traditionally, this industry has been about reacting to problems, something happens, a customer is upset, then we get activated on it, right? Well, it’s kind of too late. It doesn’t mean that we can’t do a good job solving that mean, we should and when I think we’re doing a lot of mutual to help agents do that well, but we really need to get ahead of problems. And that’s what data is really powerful at doing. If we can compile that into one set, predict behavior off of it predict needs, we could get beast be solving problems proactively rather than reactively. And they might think we know we kind of got it, you know, but it’s too late. A lot of times when we get involved when a customer is already upset about a rate or already upset about a claim we’re already upset about a billing issue. You know, that’s an important time to react, but we should try to avoid toes.

Seth Zaremba 9:57

So and then I think it If you look at a unified view of who the customer is, I think that’s been the big change. So I think there was a point where carriers thought agents were the customers. And then agents think that their policyholders are the customers. And that’s what we’ve built our whole industry on. Right? So you have a carrier out there trying to build stuff around servicing an agency. And then you have an agency building stuff around service and customer. I think when Chad join Ohio mutual, and when people like Chad joined the traditional IRA channel, they’re saying, Wait a second. And Chad was one, the first one, the customer is the customer. And we have a shared view of it. So if we have a unified view now of who the customer is, thank goodness, it only took us 100 years to agree that the policyholder is our shared customer. And if we both have a responsibility in the experience, and how it feels to be a customer all the way through a claim and all that, and why wouldn’t our technology why wouldn’t the decisions we make and the investments we make The technology and the data create, why wouldn’t we do that together and use it together for a shared line of sight on the customer? And, and I think what I see happening with Ohio mutual and with Chad and his team and with a lot of carriers is this now focusing on the right object for the first time in a long time have thought about how it feels to the customer in the same way.

Chad Combs 11:22

And just to add real quick on there. Yeah, I mean, the in there, we see some really interesting things kind of come through with that conversation. And one of the biggest insights we’ve had, so we’ve started with just like Southwest, we’ve been maturing an NPS, we do Net Promoter Score. And when you really think about some of the fun, fundamental insights, and one of them, it’s super clear, is that when a policyholder likes their agent, they like their carrier, and a lot of that is because they don’t see a difference, right? They think that’s the carrier too but I think a lot of that is insightful to us, right? I think there’s fear sometimes the carrier wants to interact with that policyholder and make that kind of soul experience. That’s just not true. That wouldn’t make any sense. Because really the agent is the experience for carriers job is to make that agent look really, really good. And so I think if agents can get their mind around that and see that there are some carriers that really want to set them up to be the superstar, here’s how they can do it. I think it’s even easier to kind of create the level of partnership and share data that we want to. I just think we haven’t really pushed that yet. That’s like, that’s kind of new. But I think the more we dive in the data, it’s, it’s really all about the agent.

Syd Roe 12:26

So I’m going to throw the question out on the table, and I’m not actually sure who is even best. I feel like both of you guys could provide an answer. So I’ll let you guys Hunger Games style, oh, man, cross the corner of the desk and go after this one. But what data I mean, when we’re looking at that, and you’ve provided sort of a nuanced perspective on agent carrier customer relationship, what data then does a carrier provide to the agent that is going to make them look like that superstar, I mean, What? to an agent out there? who’s like, No, I mean, I’ve got a great business. I’ve got great customers, I’m making money. I don’t see what else the carrier could really do for me, right? In what way? Are they going to create, you know, a better relationship with the customer? How what data can you provide to them?

Chad Combs 13:16

I’ll take that. Yeah.

Syd Roe 13:17


Chad Combs 13:20

Just started. This sounds like a data request coming my way. So I move on.

Seth Zaremba 13:25

There we go. Change my behaviors. So a carrier is interacting with a customer in very specific ways. And they get insights because of those interactions. And they’re different from the interactions I have. So the kind of things that I want from carriers is informing me on what to do different and better, right. So based on your interaction based on your access to data at industry, customer, experiential, you know, things that I don’t know if you can inform me, let’s just say I’m about to deploy a marketing campaign for home and auto and Broadview Heights, Ohio and you Fundamentally, there are things I could do that would be more beneficial for you. And for us that might select a better class of customers or a higher intake rate, whatever it is, I want to know that. And if I’m working with current customers, and there’s things that I’m doing or not doing that might cause future problems for the carriers, whether it be financial, higher losses, more frequency around billing, or claims, or those types of things, change my behavior. And so I think for us to really look good for the customer, we’ve got to start looking at how we can make each other more able to understand that view. And carriers have deeper pockets when it comes to data, access to thinking on industry. And if they can look at those things and understand exactly what we as agents are doing and can help inform better decision making and behaviors. We can produce better results. And so that’s one thing I like to see from carriers is, hey, show me how I can be better show me Give me data that makes me market better, sell better and service better. I want that.

Chad Combs 14:58

I agree. I mean To save one word, I think what carriers need to do around data with agents is help get prioritization. Oh, we don’t do that. We treat every renewal reactively. We don’t tell if you have 100 customers renewing here this month, September, we just say, here’s the three you need to reach out to immediately, here’s exactly what you need to do with them. Now it’s up to you to close that loop. And you can do it better than we can, right. But we need to be able to tell you, here’s how you should rank it and why and what you should do. And I don’t think we need and this is a strong from our CEO Mark Russell is, I think a lot of times you start talking about customer experience, you fall in love with the extras and I’m all about cool things and rewards and exciting stuff, but really claims billing, premium change. Those are three core interactions in the insurance world that if you screw them up, we will lose customers, we have to nail those three experiences, right? So if we know a premium changes coming up, we should be telling Hey, Seth, you’re somebody who’s got a pretty big one. Here’s exactly why Oh, it here by the way, here’s two options and what to do about it. And I know that’s kind of a shared vision you have with Project neon and hack could happen. But we have that data we could tell you and I gotta give kudos to our team with Dave Grove and Susan cannon our side, they’ve done a great job being able to provide some tools to our agents around those. And those are relatively new and exciting. So, yeah,

Seth Zaremba 16:7

yeah. Do you think that if he can, if you can look at 100 of my upcoming renewals and say these 15 are at risk of something. Think about the margin game for me, because I’m coaching my staff to go after all hundred renewals. I mean, Christopher cook was just in here. So I’m gonna call everybody renewal. Sorry, Christopher for the southern accent. And I’m like, Why? Why don’t you just call the ones that are at risk. I mean, we’ve grown we’re growing at double digits and zinc outperforming the industry in many ways, not saying we’re great or anything like that. We don’t have a birthday card. So the extra thing and thanksgiving cars and because I don’t think that that necessarily matters if we can just deliver on be here and do what we say we’re going to do and help them through those moments where they’re And so yeah, I’m 100% on board with that. Just help me work on the things that are going to be most impactful. And then that’s 85 customers, I don’t call that I’m not sending cards out to wait for their need to come. We’ll touch them later when it matters to them. And when it doesn’t, right, we have to solve problems. We have to fulfill needs, right? That’s when we have we have finite resources, right? And agents are getting bigger and bigger, right? So it’s harder and harder to have those every single touch just for the sake of a touch right now, our relationship isn’t enough. It’s helpful. It’s same with me and stuff relationships. Great, right? But it’s pushing to that next level of partnership, that next level of value that will make a difference. The same thing with the policyholder carriers can be part of that solution for agents and agents should be pushing us to do it.

Syd Roe 17:40

So let me turn the table on that question. First question being what data do? Do agency to give or carriers need to give agents? What’s the reverse of that? So what data would a carrier maybe be looking for from an agent that could help them in their experience? Giving the experience to the customer in terms of claim related premium and premium change. Right? What I mean? Is their data? I don’t know, let’s just start with that is their data and then what would it be? And

Chad Combs 18:09

I think the fun part about this is we don’t know all the answers yet. So I think you have to start down this journey, then you’ll find out three things. But I’ll give you one right away is we don’t know a lot of conversations, you have those three core experiences, right? So we know what happens. Like by the time it’s too late, sometimes like there’s already a cancellation or there’s a complaint or there’s NPS problems, right. But you have somebody that called him with 5 billion problems already. Well, that would be insightful to know and what can we do to make that a little easier for the customer or they’re already kind of disrupted on a previous premium change? Well, if we’re going to hit them again, they’re already a risk, right? There’s ways to highlight these customers to you make sure you are somebody shopping internally, they’re asking you to re quote, okay, well, what can we do to make sure we’re giving the best price or product is this right for them? So there’s stuff that happens solely to an agent that carrier has no idea of and could probably help remove wasted time and a bad experience to form a policy. If we knew more,

Seth Zaremba 19:00

that’s margin for you. So you gave me margin back. When you told me to work on a 15 of 100. I can give you margin back when I show you what parts of your process what part of this customer experience what these particular customers are struggling with. You don’t have to source all the answers, I can give you that information.

Chad Combs 19:17

You’re highlighting friction for us.

Seth Zaremba 19:19

Yes. And so the interactions that that agents have with customers was never thought of value, as we were going to do is do the thing, or starting to learn as data becomes an important decision making tool for carriers is, hey, if we can, if we can document those processes so we can understand trends and if we can inform them so that they can get margin back now they can invest in better systems, better financials, more investment in agent relations, there’s so many things we can do if we start to look at each other’s financial health as a shared obligation that’s partnership to me, I mean, aside from relationship

Syd Roe 19:57

so in terms of So we know the mindset is there. We know the understanding is there. Where does the technology lie today in carriers? I mean, is this something that, you know, is? We want it, we know how to get it, but man, we are far away from the execution of it or do you think it’s closer than?

Chad Combs 20:18

I think there’s, I think we always look and say, what’s the answer? Well, the answer is probably far away. Right? But what can we do right now? There’s stuff we can do immediately. Right? And I think sometimes we be so focused on having to, oh, we have to compile all this and then and then we’ll run AI against it, then we’ll do predictive analytics, and then we’ll have it and that’s gonna happen in 2027. Well, guess what? All the customers were at last year, probably gone by 2027. You look at the average life cycle of a customer, how are you going to help the customers we have right now at the agency? Right. So what are you going to do right now? And I think you have to make it simpler, right? Let’s take you know billing for example, right? You know, what, what are you hearing on bills from different carriers? Here’s things that are part of your pay plan. Part of your Or the invoice? Here’s things that we actually hear how do we actually get that insight and act on it? We don’t always know we get some of it from MPs, we get some of it from listening to our agent partners. But some of that by the time it’s just anecdotal conversations a game of telephone, right? It’s been kind of distilled to a point where it’s like, kind of a point there or not. Right. And that’s the way we’re doing business right now. I think we have to raise that up and say, how do you share a lot more data to us? Right, premium Ginger’s way we can help you? Right? We should be able to tell you that way at a time and what to do about it. Right. So I think we got to make the problem smaller on a specific need first, to share data effectively.

Syd Roe 21:34

So basically, you’re saying you’re doing it? We’re literally doing it

Seth Zaremba 21:39

Yeah. And I think the plumbing is bad. So we’re trying to get water to run downhill through lead pipes that are pretty clogged up and i think is carriers and carriers have a much heavier turn of the screw when it comes to technology. Right. You know, for an agency it might be $100,000 investment for a carrier might be a 300 million dollar investment, right? So but the capabilities to start moving and sharing information is something we have to both co invest in. Right? Because you can have anything you want in two separate rooms. But unless you can open the doors and let it come together, nothing will ever happen. And so what you’re beginning to see with carriers and agents, it’s not a can we question? Because that was a debate over the last 10 years. Could we do this? Hey, Chad, can we do this? Or can we I don’t know. Let me ask them what? What agents are getting smarter and carriers are making significant investment? It is no longer a can we question. Now we’re down to the should we see now we’re getting down to partnership? Should What do we share the customer? Do we want to unify that experience? Do we want to help each other margin and the should we conversation is going to be the conversation in the coming years before between meaningful carrier and agent relationships? And if you don’t have that, you’re probably both moving on. Hmm.

Syd Roe 22:54

You brought up more of a 30,000 foot view and I want to step back and ask a question because you have a very unique perspectives as somebody who came from a large organization nationwide into a smaller organization or have mutual, what are you seeing in the mutual space? Are you starting to see that mindset shift in smaller and smaller carriers as well? And my next question being, depending on the answer to that, you know, you take a nationwide versus an Ohio mutual, who’s getting to the target faster? And what does it look like to move towards that target as a mutual carrier versus a nationwide? Right,

Chad Combs 23:35

so it’s a great question. I mean, there’s, there’s positives and negatives to both right. When you’re a large company, you have all this infrastructure and capital to build solutions on your own for this stuff. When you’re a smaller company, you don’t have it, but you have agility, right. And I think that’s what we really like to take advantage of. And there’s some mutual companies that maybe aren’t trying to push on that bleeding edge, you know, and are comfortable being a follower I would say At a mutual we’re more on that we want to push, right? We want to be an innovator. We think there’s a first mover advantage, or at least to be a fast follower on something that seems to make a lot of sense, right? But you have to have agility and you have to be willing to try. And I think on the carrier side, where I’d push us is it’s hard to be a carrier, you have so many regulations, you have to be you have so many different agents you’re trying to answer to it’s very easy to do your job and be reactive. And you have more than you can handle right. I think carriers and agents should push carriers saying, what are you doing for me tomorrow that wasn’t there before? Right? How are we getting to that proactive piece identifying those next steps for even how we haven’t figured that out as a carrier space enough and that’s where we’re, we’re appointed at Ohio mutual, but if you want my opinion, I think I think a smaller regional carriers have a real chance of being part of the solution here.

Seth Zaremba 24:48

I 100% agree. Mutual’s are the new black and bet on black because it’s what we hear we were just talking about Mitch, we’re talking to mark Russell, and he was very proud as he should be of the fact that in a carrier project we think was 50 carriers in terms of preparedness and agility in that space that Ohio mutual is performing and like four out of 50 so you have all these people sticking out their chests and we’re so big or we’re so this or we’re so that and it’s like yeah, but can you do the thing and Mutual’s are uniquely capable of doing the same because they operate in a different financial space. And so shareholder return is a real drive for business decision it makes you have to respond to quarterly outcomes into shareholder interest and all that where Mutual’s can operate much more on the principles of insurance, when you don’t have to give return on investment to a group of anglers, shareholders that can storm the castle. It allows you to think much more strategically. And it allows you to act in much more of a principled way. And I think principles and relationship are starting to matter more than everything in a digital world. And so if you, if you take a well-capitalized mutual who doesn’t have that responsibility or that liability, you might add they can move As a top four carrier and a 50 carrier project, and blow the doors off of people and agents ought be thinking that if they’re not, do not sleep on a mutual company because they if done well, and I’m seeing it done well, they will be your most powerful card in your deck. Go find one that shares your values, go find one that has a similar vision to where you think you want to end up, right. And there’s, there’s options out there. I totally agree. And, and it’s a lot of fun when you can just have one or two relationships. And then that’s agreement. You don’t have to go through nine layers of bureaucracy to get something done. I can call up Mark Russell and go meet with him. And Doggone it, he’ll be with me. Yep. And that’s amazing. I mean, that. That is amazing. There’s so many CEOs that are hiding out somewhere and you can’t get to them. And you know what, if we’ve got a problem, you can go do that. Now. Do you want to abuse that? No. And does he want people showing up all the time? No, but if we’re acting in the best interest of the consumer, and let’s have those conversations, that kind of opportunity is it Awesome,

Chad Combs 27:00

it feels real and it makes it fun, honestly.

Syd Roe 27:02

Yeah. I guess I’m wondering too, from a strategic perspective, there’s a lot of opportunity but from a tactical perspective, being so involved in data and understanding where it’s going specifically with the idea of that aggregation of data could mean is there is a Mutual Insurance Company and a prime spot to scale because of that, you know, and I guess I think about like a progressive insurance or, or like a Nationwide Insurance, there’s, they create so much data, they have so much volume, that it’s hard to break into that space and say, hey, look, you know, either as an agent, you know, we’ve got this, this, this idea of data aggregation, or you know, we can collaborate. They’re kind of like a little hands off, right? But we got it, you know, we don’t necessarily need you, we’ve got this direct side that sort of informs, you know, our next best steps, but Seems like a mutual insurance carrier could have more. There’s just there’s more they’re just in a prime spot to take advantage of that idea. She’s good, isn’t she? Is she?

Chad Combs 28:10

Yeah, these are great. I mean, I’ll tell you one output from that question I think is really interesting is historically we always even on the small mutual side, so everybody’s our customer, right? We can right everybody, right? And an agent’s kind of push us that way. And I really think we had to push against that and stuff kind of talked about the pro even started today but if we’re a small mutual even though we’re a sizable share, no, we don’t have to write everybody we’re not done the solution for everybody we really need to do we say here as a customer we can really serve and share data in a way that says here’s what they need right? Here’s what really make that experience wonderful and then tell agents Hey, we got a great mousetrap for this right here’s what you need to do. But here’s what we’re gonna provide you before so it’s gonna be its gonna really work and I think as carriers are way too as a template that right we try to have a solution for everything. Yeah, and we don’t have to.

Seth Zaremba 28:57

Agents are gonna force it. Agents are going to force Because increasingly when Chad sits down with his customer or his agents, they’re gonna say Chad, just give it to me straight. I got 3000 people in town show me the 400 extra right? And that’s it and if he can’t answer that question he’s in trouble. And frankly, when a carrier comes out and talks to an agent if they can’t articulate plan and Representative action behind it, the carrier is going to walk out of that walk to the car and by the time they hit the front door be like I don’t know if this is a partner right? And so it’s all coming to the fact that if we believe that data has value, then we are going to start asking for it and using it and here’s the beautiful part of it, the customer actually wins. So customers don’t prospects don’t win if we ask everybody if they want Ohio mutual because it’s irritating, and they won’t open our emails. They won’t respond to our campaigns. But if the 500 Ohio mutual customers within seven miles of here, get treated and targeted with specific information about how we as Their agent and his Ohio mutual as a resource can solve their problems going forward. They’re gonna love us. And we’ve seen it in our performance on our campaigns.

Chad Combs 30:08

I know we’ll be in a good place where agents will reach out to us before they hit that campaign and say, here’s what we’re going to do. What do you think? And like, well, I like it. But I would go here rather than here because you know, these, there’s way more of this type of customer to zips over. And here’s why I know that right. And this is where it matches our product, I insert that I’ve actually had some of those conversations before, but we don’t have enough of those. And then that would push us on the care side to build products that do that better. And we still have enough of those conversations in SAS, right? What you just said, Whatever we do, it needs to be a win for the agent. It needs to be a win for the carrier, it needs to be a real win for the customer. Right? If we do that. We nailed it. Right? And we think about stuff from our own perspective too much. So we’ll get past that.

Seth Zaremba 30:51

Yeah. Well, I think, you know, one of the things we’re trying to do in the end is bring you scale on that. So you’re having that conversation with every capable agency in town, whether they’re your agency or not, is really hard. That’s just a knife fight. If we can aggregate together, a singularly focused group of agents who are motivated this way driven this way, technologically capable, this way to deliver on prospecting, marketing, sales and customer experience, integrate data, change insights and do those things. That’s a real attractive offering to someone like Ohio mutual because now they don’t have to comb the countryside. Looking for the needle in the haystack. They can just go to one place and say anybody who’s behaving this way is likely a really good distribution point for us. How can we help?

Syd Roe 31:38

Well, we had we were met with a carrier a couple days ago who sat in front of us and said, Yeah, we’ve got, you know, we know exactly who the 1000 agencies are who, well, what he was explaining was he’s got two buckets of agencies. One bucket was agents who don’t have a diversification of risk. So they just placed all of their business With one carrier. And then of course, the other bucket being the opposite of that. I’ve got a diversification of different carriers. So you know, to a carrier they might as sort of it’s kind of a backpack moment, right? They like us so much. They’re placing all this business with us. As much as you want to go down that route. This person was explaining, well, you question their business model, are they the right business partner, right, if they’re going down this route of just sole business place with us? And so that the point of me saying all this is really just to say this, this person who, you know, they’ve got a fat, they know they’ve got 1000 agencies who do this thing, but do they know why the agencies are making that decision? Right, what’s the makeup of the agencies? What’s the behavioral trend that’s pushing them towards this? And then how do you start to identify, you know, in an agency of lifespan, who is most likely To be that agent, right? And what are the characteristics about somebody who decides to make a business move, I just think there’s so much more data that you can get that even if you think you’ve got a certain amount, right, you can go 10, there’s always an extra layer that you can go into, and reach into to understand more and more and more about, you know, risk and the nature of the relationship with your agents and your customers. So,

Chad Combs 33:29

absolutely. And I mean, people are complex, right? And they’re going to have emotional reactions to a lot of things. And if you could figure out kind of what’s going to trigger them in a positive way or a negative way that’s super insightful, right. And we don’t have the data enough to even accomplish that yet. But we know some stuff right, we can get started. Right? But I mean, that’s where we need to be focused is how do we, you know, the expectations for insurance are so low, right? Like, just don’t mess something up. Right? It’s like when I get mad at my insurance agent or my company, it’s like I raise my premium too much for you. My bill doesn’t make any sense. It’s like so oh, this isn’t like we’re buying an iPhone here, right? We should push ourselves to say what it would really drive a positive interaction. It’s not enough. And we certainly don’t need to go wrong, but how

Chad Combs 34:12

do you make it look a little bit good, right? And then it’s like it’s total win in the eyes of customers, right? We need to push ourselves right. You know, we wouldn’t accept some of this and other parts of our life so let’s make it better here. You know? So and it’s hard you know that this is a highly regulated industry there’s it’s complicated, right? But we should figure out what are those things actually drive a positive interaction with a customer?

Seth Zaremba 34:32

I think we should figure out what agents are even doing anymore. I hear we have these defined buckets that have sit here for 100 years carriers say they’re hundred years old agency, they’re hundred years old. It’s like okay, but if you were building it today, what would you do? I don’t think the independent model would look anything like it has looked if we started today will look completely different. And that’s what really gets me going is sitting down with Chad and saying like, okay, scrap it all. What do you Want me to do? What do I need you to do? We were having a conversation. Our mutual every day is like, Well, why does the underwriter just talk to the customer? Well, you know, like, Well, why not make this? Does it make sense in this use case for just Ohio mutual to talk to the customer? Yes. Okay. But that’s not how we’ve done it traditionally. And so if the consumer has the power, and so we should be constantly evaluating what we do and how we do it. It’s not that hard. But because we’re doing all this other stuff, probably the wrong stuff, probably stuff Chad and I have mutual rather are better to do. If we can figure out how to shift this stuff and reallocate resources so that we’re most relevant, we can do the stuff that’s not so hard, but really meaningful, and, and really make an impact.

Chad Combs 35:42

I mean, what we’re really good at is saying, Here’s all of our perspective, where we’re at right now, what should we do next? And we shouldn’t think like, we need to flip it and say, What does the customer need? What is the real today? Do you solve that? And then just say, let’s pay that first. Yeah. And then we’ll figure the rest of it out, right? But you really got to flip the problems say what do we actually do to add value Right now, what can I do next? Based on this whole complicated setup? I got?

Seth Zaremba 36:04

Yeah, and what have been the rules for the last hundred years? Because we can’t trade on the future unless we establish who’s doing what from the past. And it’s like, I’m so sick of rearview mirror strategy between carriers and agents. We don’t control the future that customer doesn’t. So we had basket, our attention focused on them and reallocate resources. And you know what? Tell me what you need me to do. Do you need me to sell? Okay, then take over some of the service Do you need me to underwrite not anymore? We’ve got it then make it easier for me to get you information. You know, do you need me to give you data? Yeah, API that’s thinking stuff over to me so that I can be more weaponized on the front end was let’s just do it.

Chad Combs 36:41

It sounds great in concept but it’s hard to execute on the total. So I would say mixed sometimes gimmick this stuff smaller. You know, it’s like for this one market, this one niche, this one product, we’re going to do first and get going, right? Because I think a lot of times we see the problem, but we all know that first step to take. And I mean, I know you’ve done some cool stuff with different niches and programs and that’s a great way to get it going

Syd Roe 37:03

well guys it First of all, is there anything that you want to talk about before we end before I close this out here? Any big like grain? Just we’re gonna blow my mind and if they don’t hear this you are gonna walk out of this room and just think oh my gosh, what if what did I do with my life for the past hour?

Seth Zaremba 37:24

No, I guess I’ve never publicly profess my love for Chad

Syd Roe 31:31

it was coming.

Seth Zaremba 37:32

I’ve never had that bad for him to do that. So for all for people listening. Yeah. No, yeah, I think Ohio mutual and zinc are take the names out of it. The cooperation that that forward thinking agents and forward thinking carriers of any size can do if they just sit across the desk like this and talk.

Seth Zaremba 37:59

They can do a lot of things different and better.

Syd Roe 37:59

Well, I just want to say to Chad, because he literally came down here from Ohio mutual today just for the hour to record this podcast. Thank you. And a shout out to mark how he and Dave as well, I think what you guys are doing at Ohio mutual is really, I think when we think about the content that we want to put out, at the atomic on the airwaves on the vlog and blog content, we’re looking for people who can’t just who don’t just conceptualize things, right, they’re actually taking those ideas and putting them into action. And so for you to come on, just with the knowledge that you have, but also with the experience and the I’m like missing the word, right. But just the fact that you’re coming here and saying, look, this isn’t just things, these are things we’ve been thinking about. This is what we want to do. Yeah, you know, if you’re an Ohio mutual agent, and you’re listening to this, and you haven’t talked to us about this, you need to start talking to us about this. Right. So, so thank you. Thank you. Guys,

Chad Combs 39:00

it’s fun and the cool thing about this is I think we have this unique opportunity right now that you can change the industry and the fun part about it is it’s not like one carrier is going to figure it out or one agents gonna figure out how to be both of us together and it’s not that’s not the cool thing about this whole. I independent agents are just super smart business people it seems like together we should go to figure this thing out. So it’s a fun time. I think it’s cool that we don’t have the full plan yet. But we know some of the first steps we know where we went end up and if you know where you start, and you know where you want to end. You can fill in the middle so

Seth Zaremba 39:32

it just dawned on me.

Chad Combs 39:33

Oh boy.

Seth Zaremba 39:36


Seth Zaremba 39:39

Zinc, neon, and data are all four letter. Dude.

Syd Roe 39:53

I wish this like the Minnesota goodbye. It’s like where we

Chad Combs 39:57

can do it.

Seth Zaremba 40:01

Yeah, we’re getting to me it’s got it.

Seth Zaremba 40:08

Mike got it. I just counted all the toothpicks. I’m figuring it out on air.