Mark Breading, Author at Insurance Thought Leadership



Mark Breading

Mark Breading

Mark Breading is a partner at Strategy Meets Action, a Resource Pro company that helps insurers develop and validate their IT strategies and plans, better understand how their investments measure up in today’s highly competitive environment and gain clarity on solution options and vendor selection. Breading has exceptional knowledge in all aspects of customer-centricity. Insurers and IT solution providers look to him for everything from vision to strategic key-account marketing.

He has more than 25 years of insurance and IT experience in a variety of leadership roles. He has held technical and business roles in sales, consulting, marketing and business strategy, including roles as IBM’s global insurance strategist, global insurance marketing leader and director of global executive conferences for insurance and banking. He has advised C-level executives around the world.

Strategic account planning and partnership strategies are two specialty areas for Breading. He developed and implemented a methodology for strategic account planning that is being used by IT solution providers to increase penetration in key accounts. He has also led the development of joint partner strategies for insurance IT solution providers.

In addition, he founded Strategy & Marketing, a firm providing strategic consulting services to the insurance, banking and information technology industries. As an independent consultant, he has advised IT companies serving the insurance industry, as well as financial services organizations.

Breading is a graduate of Bucknell University with a BSBA in accounting and a graduate of IBM’s Systems Research Institute, with a major in software systems.

Recent Articles by Mark Breading

Long Live the Claims Adjuster!

Decades ago, a refrain began that predicted the death of the insurance agent. The internet was going to cut out the middleman! Disintermediation would result in the demise of the traditional insurance agent! But here we are – years later – and distribution intermediaries such as agents, brokers and wholesalers are not only surviving, they […]

InsureTech Connect: All About the People

Participating in ITC2021 was a blast! It was great to see so many people in person for the first time in a couple of years. But aside from the joy everyone was experiencing in just being together, there was a serious undercurrent to the event. In fact, as I polled individuals on their impressions of […]

2 Areas of Focus for Distribution

Within the insurance industry, the personal lines sector has frequently been the pioneer in building and enhancing digital capabilities. With increasing demands from both policyholders and distribution partners for digital solutions, technology innovation was and remains imperative to both staying relevant and increasing market share. Simply put, insurers that do not continue to prioritize their […]

Mid/Large Commercial Distribution

Traditionally, success in the middle-market and large commercial segments relied on deep expertise regarding customer risks and deep relationships with a network of distributors with access to those markets. Those capabilities are still fundamental to success, but lately the carriers’ digital capabilities have become increasingly essential in these markets. Distribution partners – whether retail agencies, […]

Small Commercial: Digitizing Distribution

How far along are commercial lines carriers in delivering digital solutions to their agents and other distribution partners? Answering that question depends on whether you are a glass half-empty or glass half-full type of person. The pessimist might say: Despite huge investments in technology over the past few decades, there is still a great deal […]

Tech Pulse Quickens for Commercial Lines

The past 18 months have been interesting (to say the least) for anyone involved in technology strategy, planning or implementation. Ideally, a road map with prioritized projects and defined resource allocations directs the activity, and the company stays relatively true to its path. Unfortunately, the pandemic, with all its implications, has wreaked havoc on tech […]

Pandemic Reshapes Personal Lines Plans

The traditionally stable P&C personal lines insurance industry has been shaken up due to the pandemic. Insurers have been used to adjusting to economic swings and catastrophes that affect volumes and financials, but the dramatic changes in customer behaviors and patterns fomented by the pandemic and related lockdowns are new experiences for the industry. Driving […]

Personal Lines Channel Plans

When insurance industry observers think of the channel strategies for personal lines, the picture can appear to be fairly simple. More of the business is moving to direct distribution, whether that is through call centers or the web. Furthermore, there is a clear movement to digital, straight-through processing. Comparative raters continue to exert significant influence […]

The Times, They Are A-Changin’

Property/casualty commercial lines carriers have ambitious plans to expand their distribution channels. Much of the change is centered on traditional channels and agents, brokers, MGAs and wholesalers. Because of that, my original title idea was, “The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same.” However, our new SMA research shows that there is much more going on here than just upgrading relationships with existing partners. So, I […]

The Finish Line Keeps Moving

Much has been written, and much has been done in the past decade regarding the customer experience in P&C. Progress has been made in understanding customer needs and journeys, implementing digital solutions for mobile and self-service capabilities and improving interactions with agents and policyholders. However, anyone involved in strategies and improving the CX in P&C […]

Way Beyond Comparative Raters

Commercial lines insurers have many options for distribution partners. The world of intermediaries is continuing to expand, with many new platforms to connect distributors to carriers. We are frequently being asked by insurers how many distribution platform partners an insurer should have and how to identify the ones that best align to their strategies. Often, […]

The Future Isn’t What It Used to Be

The pandemic has changed everything. Well, not everything… but it has changed many aspects of the lives of individuals and families and has had far-reaching effects on businesses in every industry. The patterns that represent the ebb and flow of daily life have been altered significantly. Where we work, travel, eat and buy are quite […]

The Digital Journey in Personal Lines

Most personal lines insurers were already pursuing digital transformation before the pandemic, but the tumultuous events of last year caused many to reprioritize digital projects and change the shape of their journeys. Generally, the industry fared well despite the lockdowns, economic volatility and work-from-home imperative. As activity and behavior patterns shifted dramatically in many ways, […]

Investment Mania: Understanding Why

The past six to 12 months in insurance have seen a historic level of activity for mergers and acquisitions, new investments and public offerings. It seems like every type of entity in the insurance world has been swept up. The M&A trend in the distribution space accelerates. Insurtech investments were at highs in 2020 and […]

The Digital Journey in Commercial Lines

Commercial lines insurers are moving forward on their digital journeys, spurred by customer demands and the acceleration of digital capabilities in the world at large. In earlier phases of the industry’s digital journey, all the attention was on personal lines. Commercial lines, especially those covering the more complex risks, were left behind in the wave […]

Does Pandemic Signal the End of Agents?

With each new wave of technology over the past few decades, there have been many predictions that this is the end of agent distribution. You know the drill: “Technology can be so much more efficient and remove all that expense related to those human distributors.” I can remember back to the dawn of the internet, […]

Insurance 2030: Implications for Today

It can be difficult to think about the future when the demands of the day are so pressing. The pandemic and events of 2020 have caused seismic shifts in society, affecting everyday patterns, lifestyles and business operations. Adapting strategies and plans to the pandemic’s evolving realities has been at the top of many insurers’ priority […]

Has Pandemic Shifted Arc of Insurtech?

Right before the pandemic hit, I published a blog that reflected on the first decade of the insurtech movement and made predictions for the decade. Little did I know that the world was about to plunge into chaos and fundamental change. My predictions on insurtech through 2030 were based on my involvement in the movement […]

How Will Strategies Change in 2021?

Individuals with strategy and planning roles have had a busy time in 2020 adapting to the evolving realities of the pandemic and economic uncertainties. 2021 is likely to be more of the same for people in these roles. Entering into 2020, personal lines insurers were on a transformation path. Innovative and bold strategies and headline-grabbing […]

P&C Commercial Lines in 2021

The unexpected, unprecedented events of 2020 have turned the world upside down. Like every business sector, commercial lines insurance has had to adapt and adjust throughout the year. Many commercial lines insurers have experienced significant financial hits from the pandemic due to increased claims, lower business volumes and the decreasing payrolls of their customers. Large […]

P&C Claims: 4 Themes for the Future

Property and casualty claims is already one of the most dynamic, exciting and important areas of the insurance business. Whether we are considering personal or commercial lines, or the auto, property or casualty/medical areas, there is a lot going on. In the next decade, claims will transform more than any other area of insurance. The […]

P&C Distribution: What’s Old Is New

There is a great deal of activity afoot in the P&C distribution space. New models are being explored. Old models are being upgraded for the digital era. In a recent SMA research report, I identified eight different models or options for insurers to consider. However, even though I positioned this as a revolution and an explosion […]

P&C Distribution: Blending Models

A great deal of activity is underway by insurers investigating or implementing new distribution channels. For every line of business across P&C, there are compelling reasons to expand distribution beyond the tried and true channels. This is not to say that agent/broker channels or the direct distribution models are less important or going away. It […]

Best AI Tech for P&C Personal Lines

Artificial intelligence technologies are everywhere. The great leap forward in AI over the past decade has come along with an explosion of new tech companies, AI deployment across almost every industry sector and AI capabilities behind the scenes in billions of intelligent devices around the world. What does all of this mean for the personal […]

P&C Insurers Shift Course in Pandemic

When will the COVID-19 pandemic end? Will it end? P&C insurance, like all other business sectors, is faced with a time of unprecedented uncertainty. There are always multiple external factors to consider when developing strategies and adjusting plans. Now, layer into the traditional elements all the fallout from the pandemic, restrictions on economic activity, work-from-home, virtual schooling, […]

Reflections on Insurtech, Pandemic

Much has already been written about the implications of the pandemic, the related economic slowdown and the effect on insurance startups. As usual, there is a wide range of opinions. Will insurtech be a casualty of COVID-19? Or will the dramatic change to work and life patterns unleash innovative startups and new rounds of funding? […]

Crucial Technologies for P&C During COVID

Technologies like machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), robotic process automation (RPA) and natural language processing (NLP) were already hot topics in P&C insurance before the world was turned upside down in 2020 due to the pandemic. These and many other “transformational” technologies have great potential for insurers in the rethinking and optimization of […]

New Digital Communications

The options for digital communications keep expanding. Insurers’ mobile interactions with prospects, producers and policyholders have become common, while methods like e-mail and web portals are extensively used. Now, there is a whole new world of messaging platforms, chatbots, business texting, voice assistants and more. All of these methods are in widespread use in the […]

Bigger Disruptor: Lemonade or Tesla?

I’ve never been a big fan of the term “disruption.” I believe that a majority of insurance startups are partnering with incumbents to enable industry transformation and are catalysts for change, to be sure. But few are truly turning the industry on its head. For instance, Lemonade is a startup that, since its inception, has […]

Expanding Options for Communications

Most P&C insurers have gradually expanded their options for digitally communicating with prospects, policyholders, producers and employees. As the industry moves beyond the web, portals and email, there is a growing recognition that a whole new world of digital communications options can be applied in insurance. Messaging and collaboration platforms, business texting, chatbots, voice, personalized […]

Strategic Planning in the COVID-19 Era

No one will mistake 2020 for just another year. The turmoil caused by the pandemic, lockdowns and social unrest is unlike any other year. Businesses, individuals and governments have all been forced to make dramatic changes and adapt to new realities. The P&C insurance industry has responded admirably amid the chaos and continues to adapt […]

Key Advantage in Property Underwriting

In the real estate market, it is often said that the three most important factors are location, location and location. For underwriting, it is essential to also have data on many specific characteristics of the property such as square footage, exterior and interior building materials, roof shape, foundation type and size, the presence of pools […]

Retrenchment on Tech Plans? Not Yet

P&C insurers are staying the course when it comes to their original digital and technology plans and investments for 2020. Many insurers report no changes to their plans, with some reshaping and a few accelerating, but very few pausing or retrenching. These are the big themes in SMA’s new research report, P&C Tech Plans in the […]

Obstacles, Openings for Tech Vendors

With the dramatic shifts in the business world due to the pandemic, it seems that every aspect of tech and insurance is being scrutinized. After speaking with dozens of tech companies over the last two weeks – including incumbents, insurtechs and other companies of all sizes, I’ve seen a theme has emerged. To borrow from […]

Will COVID-19 Disrupt Insurtech?

If there is one thing that we have all learned with the spread of COVID-19, it is that there is virtually no industry that is immune to its impact. The global pandemic is disrupting the daily lives of individuals, the operations of businesses, the activities of governments and even the approach of cherished institutions like […]

Will COVID-19 Be Digital Tipping Point?

Countless articles about the implications of COVID-19 on the insurance industry are circulating in the digital universe. Many aspects of the industry will be affected, but the ultimate impact depends on the length and magnitude of the virus crisis, something that is difficult to predict. However, one thing that is clear and will become more […]

Insurtech: A Decade Gone, a Decade Ahead

The insurtech movement has been underway for the better part of a decade. Now that we have entered the 2020s, it might be worth exploring what could be on the horizon for insurtech over the next 10 years. Insurtech has evolved from its origins in the early part of the last decade (as an offshoot […]

Commercial Lines: Kicking Into Gear?

“Transformation” is fast becoming the next overused word in insurance, right behind “digital” and “innovation.” But the fact that so many commercial lines insurers are talking about transformation indicates a reality – there is definitely fundamental change underway. It is true that the basics of the business remain the same, and many of the headline-grabbing […]

AI: Overhyped or Underestimated?

Technologies in the artificial intelligence family have great potential in insurance, according to a recent SMA survey of P&C insurance executives. This should come as no surprise to anyone following the developments in machine learning, natural language processing, computer visioning, chatbots, virtual assistants and related technologies. After a long and varied history of AI technologies […]

CES2020: Big Themes for P&C Insurance

The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (CES) is where the latest TVs, smartphones and a plethora of smart gadgets of every imaginable kind are introduced and on display. This year, the press is breathlessly reporting on the latest in tech that relates to every area of human endeavor, including areas like sports, transportation, […]

What’s New in Fight Against Fraud?

Insurance fraud has been around since, well, the beginning of insurance. The ancient Greeks created a form of maritime insurance to indemnify against potential losses incurred with the sinking of a commercial ship in transit. It became a common scheme for the boat owner to hide the boat in a foreign port and collect the […]

Has a New Insurtech Theme Emerged?

After three intense and exhausting days at InsureTech Connect last week, I’m a little conflicted. It was quite exciting. And there are many fascinating companies and ideas that are truly transforming our industry. But then King Solomon’s words (from the Bible) come to mind – “There is nothing new under the sun.” I don’t mean […]

Winning in Small Commercial Lines

Many commercial lines insurers recognize that there are great opportunities for growth in the small commercial segment. There is no question that the segment is hot and that the potential is there for increased business. So, many are rushing into the space or redoubling their efforts and focusing on small commercial. Thus, it is hyper-competitive, […]

The Best Approach for Small Commercial?

The small commercial insurance market is hot – there’s no doubt it. In fact, the entire small business environment is quite active, with around 11 million businesses that employ fewer than 20 people, according to the U.S. census bureau, and another 6 million with between 20 and 500 employees. Around 600,000 business are started every […]

Foundational Tech for Personal Lines

The personal lines segment of the insurance industry is quite active today, with many initiatives and projects underway across the value chain. For many, the objective goes beyond incremental improvements to positioning the company for fundamental transformation. The many projects planned or in progress fall into three categories: Digital Enablement, Core Transformation and Data/Analytics. A […]

Insurance 2030: Scenario Planning

The disruption of the P&C insurance industry, touted by insurtechs and others, may not have hit full force, but outside forces will drive a tsunami of change. Technologies such as AI/machine learning and the Internet of Things are already prominent in insurer strategies and projects. The demographics of the insurance workforce are shifting and will […]

3 Data Challenges in the Digital Era

Data is powering the new economy and is the main driver behind much of the transformation of industry and society. According to multiple sources, 90% of the data in the world has been created in just the last two years. In measuring the volume of data, we have blown past exabytes and are now calculating […]

When Emerging Tech Is No Longer Emerging

At SMA, we have been tracking what we and others have called emerging technologies for the better part of the last decade. However, the question arises, “When is an emerging technology no longer emerging?” Technologies such as drones or mobile payments are often classified as emerging tech, but these technologies are, in fact, relatively mature. […]

Google and Applied Systems: 6 Months In

The insurance world was caught by surprise last October when Google’s Capital G investment arm announced a substantial investment in Applied Systems (north of $100 million). It was seen by many as an endorsement of the independent agent (IA) channel. If Google believes it will make a nice return on investment in a company serving […]

Musings on the Future of Driverless Vehicles

What might a future world look like where all transportation is via autonomous vehicles? Although we might be decades away from this vision, there are useful insights to be gained for today’s strategies in thinking through the possibilities. While I don’t personally own a crystal ball, this blog floats some ideas regarding what the future […]

6 Implications of Big Data for Insurance

CES, which once centered on consumers and electronics (per its name), now extends far beyond consumers and focuses much more on software and data than on the electronics and hardware. To be sure, it still all comes together in physical devices, and elements like engineering and design are vitally important. But more and more, everything […]

Provocative View on Future of P&C Claims

Property/casualty claims is destined to transform more than any other area of the insurance business over the next decade. Many may see that as a provocative statement, especially with all the attention on distribution and underwriting. After all, there are so many new entrants, insurtech startups and new technology solutions aimed at disrupting or transforming […]

Emerging Technology in Personal Lines

Personal lines insurers are investigating emerging technologies and developing strategies and plans related to individual new technologies. Technology is advancing so rapidly that it is even difficult to define what should be considered an emerging technology. For the past several years, SMA has been tracking 13 technologies that many consider to be emerging. These include […]

New Entrants Flood Into Insurance

New entrants seem to be coming out of the woodwork in insurance. The insurtech movement, the advance of emerging technologies and the appetite of the global tech titans are all contributing to new entrants, new partnerships and new business models. A few recent examples illustrate the new interest in insurance from those both inside and […]

Whole New World for Customer Contact

Common things we hear these days: “If you really want to reach me, text me.” “Send that file to me via Slack.” “I live on Facebook, so send me a message on Facebook Messenger.” We also observe that many people never answer voicemail, virtually ignore emails and throw away mail without even looking at it. […]

What’s in a Name? Art of Insurtech Naming

What is it with insurtech brand names? Among the insurtechs that SMA is tracking (well over 1,000) are a wide range of names ranging from the clever to the practical to the bizarre. Having personal experience with naming, I can understand the challenges of finding something memorable, not already used, and lacking any negative connotations. […]

The Most Important (and Overlooked) Tech

Geographic information systems (GIS) may conjure up images among insurers of an old technology that tends to be used by a few passionate specialists at their company. It is true that the technologies for mapping and visualization have been around for decades. (I first saw a demo of GIS for insurance in 1989, and the […]

The Future of P&C Distribution

How much will the distribution of P&C insurance change in the next five years? This is anything but an academic question. Insurers, agents/brokers and tech companies are all trying to read the tea leaves to position for success in a changing environment. Insurtechs focused on distribution are numerous; new entrants are surfacing every day. And […]

A Cautionary Tale on Omni-Channel

The case for omni-channel capabilities is compelling. We are in an age where customers have many options for communicating. And the companies that can best provide them with capabilities to connect anytime, anywhere, via any method will increasingly be the winners. A recent personal experience highlighted both the potential and the pitfalls of providing omni-channel […]

Profiles in the Customer Experience

Every industry wants to improve the experiences it provides to customers. And perhaps more than any other area of business, companies are looking to other industries for examples, case studies and lessons learned. Recent personal experiences with three industries highlighted how experiences have changed and how different they can be. In a period of one […]

Top Mega-Trends With Big Implications

It used to be common to say that “technology is marching forward, improving business and society.” But today, it would be more accurate to say that technology is sprinting forward – with progress at breakneck speed and breakthroughs happening in multiple fields on a regular basis. There are so many technologies – some new, some […]

Is the Insurtech Movement Maturing?

The investment and activity related to the insurtech movement that began about four to five years ago show few signs of abating. If anything, the movement is moving into a new phase. But before even evaluating whether insurtech is maturing, it is important to set some definitions and boundaries. Although some consider any tech firm […]

Key Strategic Initiatives in P&C

Property/casualty personal lines are under pressure unlike at any other time in history. The risk landscape is evolving as some circumstances result in increased losses (distracted driving, increased catastrophes), while others hold the promise to dramatically reduce risk (autonomous vehicles, the IoT). Customer expectations and demands continue to change. Emerging technologies offer new opportunities to […]

Strategies in 2018: The New Balancing Act

Senior executives at insurance companies, like their peers in other industries, are charged with developing and executing the right set of strategies that will lead to success. In years past, strategists at insurance companies have had at their disposal a relatively standard array of strategies to chose from, their job being to prioritize and balance […]

Distracted Living: The Implications

One important trend in society over the past decade is our increasing ability to create and consume a seemingly unlimited amount of digital content. Whether the content is for information, entertainment or commerce, the result is that most people are staring at screens of various sizes and swiping, typing, pinching, voice-commanding or interacting with the […]

Insurtech in P&C: It’s Not About the Tech

Insurers are acutely aware that a whole host of emerging technologies are poised to change the industry, in some cases dramatically. It is both exciting and scary for industry executives to contemplate the implications of driverless vehicles, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, wearables and many other important technologies. It is also easy to get […]

Top 10 Lists From CES2018

CES (formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show), has become the biggest tech event in the world. CES2018 was so massive that there could probably be 50 different Top 10 lists. Here are just a few of mine that I hope you will find interesting and useful. 5G and AI are the top enabling technologies […]

CES: Perspectives on Future of Mobility

The way that people and goods move around in the future will be very different from what we are used to today. In fact, a number of technologies and demographic/sociological factors are going to converge to create a new era of mobility. Electric vehicles, shared mobility, autonomous vehicles, smart cities and others are big factors […]

CES: User Interface Is Front and Center

This year’s CES is no less mind-boggling than in prior years. With 2.7 million square feet of exhibition space, about 4,000 exhibitors, hundreds of sessions and 180,000 people, it is virtually impossible to take it all in. However, there are a few big themes that always emerge, along with a variety of interesting new products […]

Insurtech: Where’s the Beef?

In 1984, Wendy’s introduced an ad campaign with the tag line “Where’s the beef?” The campaign was so successful that the phrase “Where’s the beef” made it into the vernacular as a way to question whether there was any substance or any tangible result from an activity. The insurtech movement is enjoying enormous success in […]

Possibilities for AI in P&C Insurance

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a term for a very broad array of technologies that mimic human cognition and activities; They can also discover patterns and relationships that go beyond anything humans are capable of. Depending on your view, AI will either be a great boon to human society and business or an existential threat to […]

What’s Wrong With Life Policy Claims

Recently, I assisted a relative after the passing of her spouse. There were four life insurance policies from three different companies — all with claims to file and distribution options to evaluate. Understanding the terms of the policies and the possible distribution choices were challenging and required advice from a financial advisor, but that’s what […]

Blockchain: What’s the Real Story?

“Blockchain will transform the world…. Distributed ledger technology represents the biggest change to the business world since the adoption of double-entry accounting centuries ago…. Every industry will experience upheaval as blockchain becomes the foundation of the new business environment.” This type of hyperbole is common today when discussing blockchain technology. The key questions for business […]

Insurtech and Personal Lines

Insurtech is one of the hottest topics of conversation in the insurance industry with executives and professionals of all types joining in. The insurtech startup movement began in earnest about three years ago and is still trending up in terms of startups, funding and activity. Early insurer participants were primarily the large Tier 1 insurers, […]

The Customer Service Dichotomy

Customer service is rapidly shifting to self-service, digital, and mobile, with the next wave including chatbots, natural language processing, and AI/machine learning. This new era of customer service promises to be more efficient, more effective, and even fun in some cases. And from a customer perspective, the opportunity to save time and ensure accuracy is […]

InsureTech Connect 2017: What’s New

The insurtech movement is in full swing, and one need look no further than the ITC2017 event for evidence. The event itself mirrors the trajectory of the most successful insurtechs – coming out of nowhere to achieve success virtually overnight, at least overnight in the context of the insurance industry. Any event that goes from […]

The AI Paradox: A Troubling Implication

Listen to the pundits and self-described experts, and you get the impression that artificial intelligence is taking over the world. Our cars will drive themselves, our buildings will optimize their energy, accidents will be avoided and we will be afforded every manner of convenience. Everything around us will be smart – looking out for our […]

Smart Cities, Smart Choices for Insurers

It seems as if everything in the world is becoming “smart” – with intelligent devices and artificial intelligence automating activities and providing new capabilities. There are thousands of examples of “things” that contain embedded sensors or chips that generate information and enable control through apps or automated actions. These come together as part of the […]

Analytics: You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet

Few people today would argue about the value of data to an insurer, or the power and potential of analytics. Insurers have been leveraging data, business intelligence and, more recently, predictive analytics solutions to gain more insights and inform important business decisions. There is still much value in these areas, and there is still work […]

Geospatial Data: New Key on Auto

The whole transportation sector is in for massive transformation. The way that people and goods will be moved from point A to point B in the future will be completely different. I am not (yet) talking about a Star Trek-style transporter, although scientists have moved matter at the atomic level from one side of a […]

Will Brandless Become the Biggest Brand?

The platform economy is becoming a driving force of innovation and growth, as companies create digital platforms to enable interactions between individuals or businesses that need something and individuals or business that provide something. The “something” may be a product, service, money, labor or other asset of value. The distinguishing characteristic of platform economy companies […]

Commercial Lines: Out From the Shadows

At times, it seems like insurtech is around every corner, with new startups materializing every day, conferences emerging out of nowhere and accelerators doing their job of accelerating. Until recently, most of the activity and visibility in property/casualty has been related to personal lines. Sure, there have been commercial lines startups and partnerships in the distribution […]

Microinsurance? Let’s Try Macroinsurance

The concept of microinsurance has been around for a long time, and the activity in that area is now increasing rapidly, especially due to the InsurTech movement. Pervasive mobile and digital capabilities along with cloud computing have made it much easier to insure a wide range of individual events, activities, or things for a short […]

Unconnected World, and What It Means

Late in the 18th century, at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, a young mechanic named Ned Ludd became famous for destroying two machines. His actions spawned an anti-technology movement that lasted into the early 19th century. Adherents of that movement became known as Luddites, a term that is used to this day to describe […]

E-Commerce Transforms Risks

The April 2017 issue of Business Insurance Magazine features a cover story on the retail industry, and how the move to e-commerce is changing the risks faced by the insurance industry. The articles include “Retail caught flat footed by e-commerce,” and “Web revolution creates new era for retail risk management.” It is remarkable that both […]

Model for Collaboration and Convergence

The Global Insurance Accelerator, based in Des Moines, Iowa, has just participated in the fourth Global Insurance Symposium. Two of the big takeaways are that the insurtech movement is maturing, and there is indeed convergence happening between the traditional industry and the entrepreneurial startups that have new ideas and business models. For the insurance industry to […]

Smart Things and the Customer Experience

The inanimate world around us is coming alive, powered by smart things and AI. It is difficult to name an object for which there is not a smart version. Garage doors, thermostats, doorbells, appliances? Check. Shoes, belts, hats, shirts? Check. Cars, trucks, boats, drones? Check. Just about anything you can imagine, and some bizarre things […]

Machine Learning: a New Force

A Google search on AI yields about 2.1 billion results. It is difficult to scan the news of any industry without tripping across articles on AI and machine learning. Philosophers wonder about how AI will change the nature of human existence. Economists worry about job loss and propose schemes like a universal basic income to […]

Welcome to the Robot Revolution

The robots are coming. In fact, in many places, they have already arrived. Some consider software automation such as robo-advisors to be robotics, but there is also considerable progress in the world of the physical, tangible robots that are very similar to the ones made popular by a century of science fiction stories. We are […]

‘Siri, What’s Your Opinion of AI?’

Astounding leaps forward have been made in two key technologies in the last couple years: voice recognition and artificial intelligence. Virtually everyone is becoming used to conversing with Siri, Alexa and others, backed by powerful voice recognition engines to convert speech to text. At the same time, AI is at the heart of breakthroughs in […]

Reshaping Insurance Via ‘Convergence’

The world is at an inflection point, with emerging technologies poised to change every aspect of our lives and businesses. Exactly how each industry will be transformed and how insurance will be affected is difficult to predict. However, a number of key trends are gaining prominence, and the implications for insurance are so significant that […]

Are Scams Killing Direct Marketing?

We are facing an epidemic that is only going to get worse – the scourge of cyber and telephone-based scams against individuals and businesses. Scammers are becoming so sophisticated that it is difficult for even the most educated and tech-savvy individuals to avoid being conned. It is actually difficult to find someone who has not […]

2017: A Year of Transition

The insurance industry is in transition — there’s no doubt about it. So much is happening regarding digital strategies, insurtech, customer expectations, analytics and other areas that are positioning the industry for the future. Despite all the activity, IT budgets for P&C and L&A insurers in North America this year appear to be subdued, with average […]

When Insurers and Insurtech Collide

The insurance industry is on a collision course. As in the 1933 science fiction novel “When Worlds Collide,” a small number of individuals with insight have recognized this fact and are preparing for a new and different future, while many others are blissfully unaware of the impending danger. Okay, maybe that is a bit dramatic, […]

Convergence: Insurance in 2017

Convergence is emerging as the key theme for 2017. As insurers continue major initiatives, launch new ones and respond to the external forces acting on the industry, the strategies are increasingly overlapping and becoming mutually dependent. On one hand, traditional challenges and related strategies are not going away. Insurers have a business to run every […]

CES2017: Cool Stuff, Insurance Implications

If there was one overriding theme to CES2017, it was that emerging technology progress seems to be accelerating, with new products and uses spreading across every conceivable human endeavor. My observations from an intense four days in Las Vegas include highlights on the hot trends, examples of some very cool new products, and what it […]

A Smarter World: New Products at CES

For every object you can think of that we use in our daily lives, there is probably a smart version of it already available or in the process of development: That is one of my conclusions from CES2017. This blog will be a bit different in that it will simply provide a list and summary […]

Insurance 2030: Utopia or Dystopia?

What will the world look like in 2030? As the world becomes increasingly connected, will technology free the human race and solve the age-old problems of the world? Or will it lead to chaos and misery? Utopia or dystopia – what’s it gonna be? This may seem like just philosophical prognostication – and it is […]

Blockchain: What Role in Insurance?

Blockchain is a revolutionary technology that could fundamentally change the way business is conducted and result in the restructuring of major industries. At least, that is the view of some prognosticators. Others believe that there are important implications for the technology, but that it will not be truly disruptive. What about insurance? Will blockchain be […]

Observations From InsurTech Week

InsurTech Week 2016 hosted by the Global Insurance Accelerator in Des Moines was a great experience. It is quite interesting to see the energy, excitement, new ideas and investment in the insurance industry. Brian Hemesath and his team at the GIA have done a great job of harnessing this activity and being a positive force […]

Blending the New With the Old

The insurtech phenomenon reached new heights at the InsureTech Connect 2016 event in Las Vegas in October. More than 1,600 attendees spent two days absorbing new ideas, connecting and making followup plans to explore working together. I’ve participated in many of the insurtech and emerging tech (in insurance) events over the last couple years, but […]

Not Your Father’s Insurance Industry

If there were any doubts that the insurance industry is innovating and transforming, all doubts were dispelled at the 2016 SMA Summit. Insurer after insurer described innovative new business models, products and uses of emerging technologies. Virtual reality, drones, gamification, wearables, the IoT and other emerging technologies were all discussed – not as future possibilities […]

Will Insurtech Just Fade Away?

By now, you might be getting tired of hearing the term Insurtech. You may also be annoyed at everyone telling you about industry disruption. But there is no question that there is a high level of buzz, excitement, investment and activity in the insurtech space. The question is – does it really matter? Or is […]

The Real Story on Transportation

The progress of mankind has relied heavily on technology advancement in two key areas: transportation and communications. Communications technologies, for moving information from one place to another and presenting that information to people in new and different ways, have been instrumental to the progress of civilization. Transportation technologies, for moving people and things from one […]

Virtual Reality: A Role in Insurance?

Virtual reality seems like one of those emerging technologies with limited applicability in insurance. But as I’ve tested a few VR headsets over the past few months I have come to realize there is opportunity for insurance — though you wouldn’t know it from the typical demos. I’ve now driven a Le Mans race car (until I […]

Data and Analytics in P&C Insurance

Often, it seems like the insurance industry moves slowly when it comes to technology improvements. The way insurers manage data and leverage analytics capabilities is no exception. But steady progress is being made. SMA’s recently released research report, Data and Analytics in P&C Insurance, highlights the progress as one of the key themes. The progress […]

Geospatial Solutions: A Vital Enabler

At SMA we have long been tracking the rise of smart things and their implications for the insurance industry. A variety of emerging technologies has been rapidly advancing to make everything imaginable smart. But participating in the ESRI User Conference in San Diego this year has driven home one key point: Geospatial solutions will have […]

Telematics: Time to Move Beyond Pricing

Sometimes it is difficult to believe that vehicle telematics for usage-based insurance is 20 years old. While the likes of Norwich Union and Progressive began planning and piloting long ago, most of the real activity in the market has taken place over the last few years. SMA’s recently released research report: Telematics in P&C Insurance: […]

Will Connected World Make Us Sloths?

The possibilities of a fully connected world are unfolding before us. Technological progress has always been about making our lives easier and providing us with more options to enjoy life – to travel, be entertained, buy stuff and communicate with others. But, the connected world promises to shift progress into overdrive. Many of the smart […]

How Connected Will Connected World Be?

The idea of a fully connected world has become quite popular in the press, and it is driving much of the innovation and start-up activity these days. At SMA, we continue to articulate that there will be many different ecosystems in the connected world, such as smart homes, connected cars, smart cities, intelligent farming and […]

‘Smart’ Is Everywhere, but…

The connected world is here. Everything is “smart.” And for insurers, the implications are huge. Whatever you insure can now be connected, monitored and analyzed. People, places and things, moving or stationary, living or non-living—are all becoming smart. Think that is an exaggeration? Consider the following products announced or displayed at the Consumer Electronics Show […]

Home Is Where the (Smart) Hub Is

The smart home was all the rage at the 2016 CES (Consumer Electronics Show). The exhibit space and products devoted to smart homes was absolutely mind-boggling. Well-known products such as the Nest Thermostat, the Roost Smart Battery for smoke alarms and Amazon Echo were displayed alongside a wide variety of other products to make every […]

New Vulnerabilities in the Connected World

Many exciting TV shows and movies include hacking as standard fare – overriding security systems, changing traffic lights, causing explosions, even committing untraceable murders. Hacking makes for interesting entertainment. The frightening part? It’s all possible. The digital connections in our world are multiplying faster than we realize. It is difficult to even think of anything […]

New Themes Emerging on Role of IoT

The IoT in Insurance event just concluded in Miami with an impressive lineup of 32 speakers over two days (including yours truly). Above all, the event demonstrated that the IoT is alive and well in insurance. Insurers are exploring, strategizing, investing, piloting and putting real value propositions into the marketplace. Most, if not all, of […]

Is Verizon About to Outmaneuver Insurers?

Today, my (snail) mailbox contained a postcard from Verizon offering to turn my car into a connected car. To be more precise, the offer was to my 22-year-old daughter — neither my wife nor I got the same offer. In essence, Verizon provides a device that plugs into the OBD port, a second device that […]

Are We Finally Getting Close to a Single View of the Customer?

The concept of the single view of the customer has been around for ages. I remember some significant single-view projects of insurers from the early 1990s. Many insurers have continued to strive toward this elusive goal. Now that the customer experience is front and center in insurers’ strategies, it’s time to revisit the single view, […]

Lots of Energy Going Into Improving the Customer Experience

Over the last two years, we have witnessed executive appointments and many strategy projects related to improving the customer and agent experience. It seems like we’ve all been bombarded by banner ads, e-mail promotions, webinars and conference speeches on this topic (and I speak from personal experience, having participated in a number of these). All […]

Insurance IT Spending Continues Upward Trend

In general, the investments in technology tend to follow the state of the economy and the state of the insurance industry. However, we have noticed an interesting trend over the past five years – insurers have become increasingly optimistic about the prospects for the industry and more bullish about the role of technology. This is […]

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