Lisa Truong is owner of Truong Agency. She is an exclusive agent for Farmers Insurance and Foremost specializing in property, casualty and life insurance for personal and commercial lines, as well as a professional language interpreter with 7C Lingo.
Tell me about any events that impacted the insurance industry in 2017. Is there anything we might see focused on in 2018?
One of the most impactful decisions that resulted this past year was when the vote to reform Michigan No-Fault auto insurance was defeated. The lack of No-Fault reform is partly precipitated by the notable amount of money necessary for the reform, and the lobbyist influence involved is ardent. Currently, the health care coverage received from auto is substantial, so there seems to be little political will to make a healthy change.
In addition, I think we need to focus more on fraud authority in Michigan in its entirety. There are ways of making palatable changes without making a tumultuous entrance for change. For example, we can implement a more stringent medical-fee schedule where hospitals and service providers are better monitored on service charges. This would give us a better cushion on what is paid out on things such as wage loss and other related services. If there is more of a collaboration of effort in this aspect, it would assist in mitigating costs and enabling a welcomed change for our industry.
What is the current landscape of your industry? In a digital world, do you see the extinction or downsizing of insurance agents?
One highly anticipated transformation you will be seeing is in the world of the autonomous vehicles. Manufacturers are producing more driverless cars, which takes some of the shift off insurance carriers from an insurance viewpoint and puts more responsibility on the manufacturers. Some may prefer doing insurance business online, but there is an understated truth that there is still something very special about the need for insurance agencies. People like having the human touch and being able to establish that relationship with their trusted agents. There are specific questions on coverage, protection and guidance you receive from a personal agent that is irreplaceable and invaluable.
Speaking of a digital world, how do you see using mobile apps in the insurance industry? What’s trending and being used?
The digital world and increased use of mobile apps are surely more prevalent now than ever; people like the accessibility and convenience. Insurance carriers are conscious of this and constantly seek opportunities to become more innovative with their technology, as it relates to processing policies and handling claims. Insurance is a fast-paced, transforming industry, and we need to be ready for change if we want to service our customers. Digital change can be good if you are open-minded and embrace it. It’s inevitable.
Has social media changed the way you do business in the insurance industry?
Social Media has become one of the most critical marketing tools for employers, and the insurance industry is no exception. Companies have spent considerable time, money and attention to the trending usage of social media as it helps them engage and connect with their customers, as well as improves the efficiency and productivity of their employees. As social networking and business marketing continues to evolve, it has become critical for the insurance industry to use the full range of digital technologies and benefits of online social platforms to boost overall operations and financial performances. The world of social media is undoubtedly an integral part of our daily livelihood, if we want to stay connected.
Are there challenges to your specialties in the insurance industry?
Some challenges include increases in claims and severity. Weather-related catastrophes in Michigan continue to rise, as well as increased costs to repair vehicles — all drawing from the same insurance pool. The number of distracted drivers on the roads have also had a negative impact on costs regarding claims and increasing the number of claims filed.
Some ways to help curtail these challenges are to practice safety, utilize preventative methods to prevent a loss from occurring and stay focused. We have to allow ourselves to be more educated on insurance issues and to keep up with any necessary changes, understanding the ramifications of insurance and how it can work for us, not against us.
What is the future looking like for employment within the insurance industry?
If there’s one thing that people will always need, it’s insurance. With each day, we see a plethora of new types of businesses that need coverage, ranging from food trucks to the latest entrepreneur. With an increased number of people working online and everything going digital, there is also a higher risk of cyber-based liabilities, which requires protections against those liabilities regarding businesses and personal information.
All these transitional effects lead to a growth in employment positions within the industry. If you are thinking about entering the insurance arena, there are many different exciting opportunities to learn. In fact, right here in Michigan, we have Olivet College with formidable insurance courses. Ferris State University is also offering insurance-based degrees.
What is your overall view of the insurance industry in Lansing? Is it thriving?
Lansing is a unique area as it relates to the insurance industry. It is a mecca for several different companies that are headquartered here. This naturally means job opportunities thrive, whether in claims, investigation, technology, business development or human resources. There has been substantial economic growth in our capital city, and insurance organizations are among the growers. This brings lots of excitement to the Greater Lansing area.
Are there any coming changes that the public should be aware of?
The more the insurance industry changes, the more it stays the same. One thing I know for sure is that Farmers Insurance has the best agents, the right people and unsurpassable prestige backing the brand value. We are positioned to grow along with our customers and this ever-evolving industry. I’m humbled, honored and excited to be a part of it.