Over the past few years, lenders have put a microscope to their processes to see where they can improve the borrower journey. But there may be one area they’re still overlooking. HousingWire sat down with Kara Shipulski, vice president of strategic partnerships at Liberty Mutual, and Sean Larney, vertical manager of strategic partnerships at Liberty Mutual, to discuss how partnering with a nationally recognized insurance company improve borrower engagement for lenders.
HousingWire: With rising rates and dramatically lower refi volume, mortgage companies across the industry now have to do more with less to be profitable and competitive. What’s a potentially overlooked opportunity for lenders to stand out in their origination offerings and increase efficiencies?
Kara Shipulski: As mortgage companies look to balance profitability and competitiveness, they are likely finding themselves putting even more effort into to deepening their relationships with customers beyond the mortgage transaction.
One way lenders can expand the relationship is through expanding their product offerings, and some of the most relevant products include other financial products such as auto, home, or small business insurance offered by lenders’ partners.
Providing access to products like these allows a mortgage company to make things easier for their customers, which helps build trust, and encourages repeat business and future referrals. Offering these adjacent products also enables additional revenue flow for the mortgage company, which allows them to focus more on enhancing their principal products instead of cutting costs – something everyone benefits from.
HW: How can partnering with a nationally recognized insurance company improve borrower engagement for lenders?
Sean Larney: Engaged borrowers make for happier and more profitable customers, but how do lenders ensure high borrower engagement from their customers? Satisfaction. Increasing a borrower satisfaction helps the lender earn trust which in turn keeps the customer engaged.
In a world where a borrower’s choice of lenders is seemingly endless, one way a lender can capture the customer’s attention and keep them engaged is through delivering value added services.
Offering even just one additional product adjacent to a lending product shows a customer you understand the whole home-buying process – you see them as a home buyer on a journey, not just an applicant and that helps solidify your spot as their choice of lender. A lender can rapidly improve brand consideration by partnering with a company with strength in an adjacent area like home insurance. The key here is to deliver these services by leveraging partnerships with large and respected brands in a way that allows you to meet the customer needs without an overly burdensome investment.
What are some key pain points for a lender who may not have a partnership with an insurance company?
KS: In many cases, the thought of partnering on another product to distribute to customers can be overwhelming to organizations. At Liberty, we work to keep things easy for our partners through responsive and personal service from a dedicated Relationship Management team*. This team is specifically aligned to understand the needs of partners in various shelter-related industries and can help a partner navigate the nuances and complexities of the insurance business.
In a broader sense, consumers are becoming more accustomed to and demanding simplicity in all their daily transactions. For companies who want to set themselves apart in a competitive landscape and improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, seamlessly offering home insurance at a relevant shopping moment can help streamline the customer experience and create a one stop shop for all the customer’s home buying and financing needs. Not providing that seamless experience can put lenders at a disadvantage in comparison to their competitors.
HW: How do Liberty Mutual Partner Programs work, and what do lenders need to know to get started?
SL: We offer a wide array of diverse and innovative partnership models, selling Auto, Home, Pet, Business Lines Insurance and more through partner organizations. Our broad range of partnership models let us custom fit our partners’ needs, whether it’s your first time working with an insurance company, or you have your own P&C license. We have several ways to plug into a lender’s existing processes and we’re actively working on building out our toolbelt to deliver turnkey partnership models that maximize value and ease, while minimizing implementation and operational costs.
*Level of program support may vary based on group size