Progressive is generally known for its personal auto business, with its myriad commercials and advertisements featuring the spokesperson/mascot "Flo." It has a reputation as an innovator in that space due to its early adoption of telematics-powered usage-based insurance and mobile image capture for quoting. But the insurance carrier also has a vibrant commercial auto business, and it is making steps to innovate there as well, according to marketing process manager Craig Sesnowitz.
"On the personal lines side, because they have so many more customers, they are able to pioneer things," he says "On the commercial side, one of our long-term goals is absolutely to align ourselves to what personal lines does."
Typically, commercial insurance is an agent-centric business. Complex coverage needs and options require the kind one-to-one interaction endemic to the agent channel in order to get things right for both insurer and insured.
But much of Progressive's personal auto business includes small business owners such as plumbers or electricians that use only a few, or even only one, vehicle in their line of work, Sesnowitz says. Because of this, their demands for self-service options increasingly dovetail with what they would demand from their personal auto insurer for their family vehicles.
That's why Progressive is readying a June 19 launch of an e-document initiative for commercial auto customers.
"A lot of [commercial auto customers] go to the agent instead of directly to the carrier for certain documents, like a certificate of insurance that a large portion of our customers have a need for to do their work," Sesnowitz explains. "A dirt, sand & gravel guy, may need it so they can get on a lot, or people driving black cars to go to the airport. I called an agent and the first thing on their voicemail was the fax number to request the document."
Progressive leveraged some of the same technology that has made e-document delivery almost second nature to personal auto customers to create that capability for commercial auto policyholders.
"The personal lines side owns the self-service management part, so now we're embedded within their framework and we've styled our code up to look seamless with theirs," says web architect James Van Hyde.
The data linkup has also enabled customers who have both personal and commercial policies with Progressive -- think a plumber insuring both his work van and his family minivan -- to see both policies when they log into their customer portal.
"It wasn't so much upgrading the older platforms, but getting them to talk to each other," Van Hyde says. "Before, some of our customers didn't go into the same data warehouse."
Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio