Heath Ritenour served as the CEO of Insurance Office of America (IOA) for 10 years, starting in 2008. He then transitioned to the dual roles of CEO and Chairman in 2018 when his father, John Ritenour, retired from the company he and his wife founded 30 years earlier. The transition has had its share of challenges, but nothing could have prepared Heath Ritenour for COVID-19 and the impact it had on the entire industry.
Heath Ritenour Reflects on Opportunities Uncovered Over the Past 18 Months
In a recent interview with ABC Money, HeathRitenour spoke about how the pandemic highlighted opportunities for change for insurance agencies of all sizes. He feels that the entire industry could benefit from new energy. Some examples he gave were improving customer service and implementing intuitive technology to streamline several cumbersome insurance processes.
Heath Ritenour made this comment after acknowledging that the insurance industry has been slow to accept change in the past. Once agents and executives realized they had no choice due to the pandemic, many discovered they appreciated access to improved technology and efficiency after all. He is happy to see this as CEO and Chairman of IOA and feels that the pandemic-related changes below are here to stay.
Work from Home Will Continue Indefinitely
Heath Ritenour made the executive decision soon after learning about the pandemic to transition most employees to work from home. However, he admits that he did not expect to see the vast improvement in efficiency and client satisfaction stemming from this decision. Clients have let him know it is easier to reach agents working from home because they are not on the go all day long.
He also felt surprised at just how much money IOA saved in multiple areas by having most of its agents work from home. From eliminating the need for flight costs to a reduced demand for electricity, the savings were significant enough of a factor for him to offer agents the opportunity to work at home permanently.
New Technology and Insurance Products
Speaking of working from home, thousands of clients logged far fewer miles on their car’s odometer because they did not have to commute to work. Heath Ritenour saw this as a chance to introduce pay-per-mile coverage that allowed people to control their own insurance rate. The option has been especially popular with the younger client demographic.
To reduce the time necessary for new client insurance applications, Ritenour developed an intuitive platform he named SimplyIOA. The platform automatically scours public records to complete applications in approximately half the time it would take to finish manually. They just need to confirm data with new clients before processing the application.
According to CEO Heath Ritenour, the acceptance of new technology after the pandemic is much higher than it was before early 2020. Agents can see firsthand that using intuitive technology saves them time and prevents common errors. Few want to go back to the paper-based system that they used previously.