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Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll is the editor-in-chief of Insurance Thought Leadership. He is also the co-author of The New Killer Apps: How Large Companies Can Out-Innovate Start-Ups and Billion Dollar Lessons: What You Can Learn From the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years and the author of Big Blues: The Unmaking of IBM, a major best-seller published in 1993.

Carroll spent 17 years at the Wall Street Journal as an editor and reporter. The paper nominated him twice for Pulitzer Prizes. In 1996, he founded Context, a thought-leadership magazine on the strategic importance of information technology that was a finalist for the National Magazine Award for General Excellence.

He is a co-founder of the Devil’s Advocate Group consulting firm.

Carroll earned a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University (at age 19) and a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

Recent Articles by Paul Carroll

‘Smart Homes’? Not Just Yet

Having seen more than a little hype in my decades writing about technology, I have for years asked anyone and everyone associated with “smart homes” whether they could make an economic argument for the devices that can protect homes. Would deploying the devices widely cost less than the damage they would prevent? I finally have […]

Get Ready for the New Healthcare Debate

While we all long for a return to normal once we tame the coronavirus, when it comes to healthcare in the U.S., we can’t go back to normal. “Normal” didn’t work. It will take a while for the new contours of healthcare and health insurance to appear, because the focus must stay for now on […]

COVID-19 and a New Theory of Capitalism

In 1970, economist Milton Friedman published an idea that has driven capitalism for the last half-century: The only responsibility of a corporation is to generate profits for shareholders. That sole focus has produced distortions that have made many, including senior executives, increasingly uncomfortable and has led to an alternative formulation known as “stakeholder capitalism.” The […]

Time to Retire the Term ‘Insurtech’?

When I founded and edited what became known as a “new economy” magazine in 1997, to explore all the strategic possibilities created by the internet, a friend told me a curious thing. “You know,” he said, “there were magazines with names like Popular Electricity back in the early 1900s, when it was this great new […]

The Messaging Battle on COVID-19: Are Insurers Losing?

Many insurers have made grand, public gestures, returning some $10 billion of premiums to customers whose lives and businesses have been put on hold by the coronavirus, but I’m not sure customers have really noticed. I worry that the insurance industry is losing the messaging battle at a crucial time. We risk being relegated to […]

COVID-19: Stark Choices Amid Structural Change

My dad often said he’d rather be lucky than good. Now that it’s becoming clear that the coronavirus shutdown will cause a longer and deeper economic slump than many initially thought and will likely lead to permanent, structural change in the economy, it seems to me that those are the two options for insurance companies: […]

Why to Prepare to ‘Reverse Innovate’

The best car-buying experience that I–or pretty much anyone–ever had came 20 years ago. With two young daughters and, thus, soccer car pools looming, my wife and I decided we needed a big, old SUV, and we just happened to have a good friend and neighbor who owned a car dealership that sold them. Mark […]

Rethinking Risk Management in a COVID-19 World

If there was ever a moment for risk managers to shine, this is it. In many companies, risk managers have won kudos because backup plans have made the transition to telework smoother than it easily could have been (though I feel awful for those working in restaurants, hotels and other businesses who have been furloughed […]

COVID-19: Moral Imperative for the Insurance Industry

When I saw this article in the Wall Street Journal this week, on how states are pressuring insurers to pay business interruption claims related to COVID-19 even though policies specifically exclude pandemics, I was reminded of my first encounter with the “deep pockets” theory that is driving the pressure. A college friend who was a […]

Can We Thread the Needle on the Coronavirus?

I hope that you, your families, your friends and your colleagues are staying safe and aren’t going crazy in isolation. I live in Northern California and (gah!) am in the over-60 demographic, so I’ve been sheltering in place for days. The good news is that, without sports on in the background, I’m being wildly productive. […]

What Comes After the Coronavirus

The coronavirus crisis presents us with a “natural experiment.” I wish it didn’t, but it does, and we ought to take advantage of the experimental possibility if we’re to benefit at all from the weeks and months of danger and uncertainty that lie ahead of us. While the near-term focus clearly needs to be on […]

The Aon-Willis-Coronavirus Merger

When I worked at the Wall Street Journal, in the pre-internet days, we’d often see companies try to bury bad news by issuing a press release after the markets had closed and the ticker had shut down, right before a weekend—better yet, a long weekend. How much play would we give a days-old story that […]

Poker’s Lessons on Coronavirus (and Innovation)

We’re all swimming in a soup of information and speculation about the coronavirus, and I’d love to be able to say I have some startling insight that will clear everything right up. I don’t, of course. But I do have two bits of historical perspective that might help to frame a part or two of […]

Time to Put ‘Leader’ Back in ‘Thought Leadership’

An old friend and colleague from the Wall Street Journal, George Anders, tweeted last week that “More than 1 million people list ‘thought leader’ on their LinkedIn profiles.” In his mordant way, George added, “So many thoughts! So much leadership.” George, currently senior editor at large at LinkedIn, where he writes about interesting trends in […]

A Novel Approach to Cybersecurity

The journey began with a possible purchase on eBay. Robin Roberson thought to herself, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could have someone go look at the item to make sure the seller is being straight with me?” Robin realized that others might want someone to go look, too, so she founded a company called […]

A Dangerous New Form of Ransomware

One of the most daring bits of technological espionage occurred in the summer of 2009, when the Stuxnet virus—clearly designed by Israel and the U.S., though neither has ever ‘fessed up—silently attacked centrifuges in Iran that were being used to enrich uranium for use in nuclear power plants and potentially weapons. The virus infiltrated the […]

Is Blockchain Ready to Hit the Market?

Although I often remind people that ITL isn’t a news site, I’m going to make an exception here, because I want to be sure you saw the news about ITL that opens up major opportunities both for the website and for this Six Things newsletter.  And, yes, there is a connection to blockchain. Even if I’m indulging […]

What Happens When an Industry Goes Digital

Now that innovation in insurance seems to have found a rhythm, many may feel that the pace is manageable and that digital disruption perhaps won’t produce the sort of drama imagined a few years ago. So, now seems like a good time to trot out some thoughts from a talk I give occasionally on what […]

What Ski Racers Can Teach the Insurance Industry

The best athlete you’ve likely never heard of is Mikaela Shiffrin, who is close to breaking all the career records in international Alpine ski racing—and is just 24 years old. When Lindsey Vonn was considering one more heroic comeback from injury last season so she could build on her 82 wins on the World Cup […]

The Best Thing I Saw Today

Having watched about as much sports as humanly possible over the holidays, I thought I’d borrow the bit that Scott Van Pelt uses to open his SportsCenter broadcast on ESPN: “Best Thing I Saw Today.” In my case, the best thing I’ve seen lately is this video interview of Marc Andreessen, officially on “Why You Should […]

What to Expect in 2020

Happy New Year! I figure we should dub this year “Hindsight.” After all, hindsight is 20/20, right? So, let’s imagine it’s Dec. 31, 2020, and we’re looking back on the year. What will we see that the industry accomplished? Having read a bazillion forecasts over the holidays, I think lots of prognosticators are on the […]

Looking Back at 2019

As we close out the year (you have better things to do than hear from me on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, so we won’t publish Six Things again until January), I found two recurring themes in this year’s newsletters that I thought were worth highlighting as we start to turn our attention to […]

The False Dichotomy That Holds Us Back

Our chief innovation officer, Guy Fraker, told me the other day of being in an innovation strategy meeting where the CFO of a workers comp carrier talked of needing to “protect our losses.” The pushback was fast and strong: Insurers increasingly can help clients predict and prevent losses and must do so, even though lower […]

How Climate Change Distorts Risk Prediction

Back in the days when Johnny Carson was host of “The Tonight Show,” he joked about what he saw as the four seasons in southern California: earthquake, wildfire, rain and mudslide. Now that the first big rain of the season is set to hit California over the next few days, I found myself thinking about […]

When Innovation Efforts Go Wrong

While I generally emphasize the need to innovate, it’s worth stepping back from time to time and realizing that every project is a bet, and that not every bet pays off, no matter who you are.  The point about the inevitability of at least occasional failure has been driven home by the recent troubles for […]

The Necessary Tension Between Old and New Tech

Last week’s news that the U.S. military was retiring a 50-year-old system of 8-inch floppy disks that helped control the nuclear arsenal reminded me of my own brush with outdated technology that could have led to Armageddon.  I was waiting to be interviewed by the History Channel for a special on the early days of […]

Get Ready for Some Magic

Clarke’s Third Law, posited by science fiction legend Arthur C. Clarke, says that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Well, we’re going to see some magic, courtesy of the technology that led Google to claim “quantum supremacy” last week, and we should start adapting sooner rather than later. The underlying technology, quantum computing, […]

An Agent, Underwriter and Adjuster Walk Into a Bar…

After witnessing the Cal football team’s disheartening loss to Oregon State on Saturday, I spent an hour having a beer (okay, two) at Pappy’s in the heart of Berkeley, decompressing… and thinking about what the busy sports bar had to say about insurance. I didn’t intend to ponder insurance, but I guess watching SMU complete […]

An Answer for California’s Power Shutdowns

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize last week to Ethiopia’s prime minister brought back the memory of a time I interviewed Isaias Afwerki, one of the key factors in this year’s prize. It was 1991, and Afwerki had just emerged from the bush in Eritrea. He led a guerrilla movement that, after 30 years, […]

Not Giving Up on Healthcare

When I wrote two weeks ago about the possibility of combining workers comp with health insurance to produce a sort of let’s-just-keep-people-healthy approach, many of you wrote to tell me that I’m nuts. (You were as kind as possible; thanks for that.) One wrote that the obstacles to a combination are “nearly insurmountable.” She added: “Workers comp […]

A Report From the Front Lines of Innovation

The best description of last week’s InsureTech Connect extravaganza in Las Vegas may have come from an acquaintance who said, “ITC began three years ago as Craiglist, became Tinder and is now something like LinkedIn.” The reference to ITC-as-Tinder may be a bit spicy, but I think he pretty well captured the arc of the […]

A Radical Notion That Blurs the Lines

I’ll be brief, because I’m running around at InsureTech Connect in Las Vegas (as are, I imagine, many of you. Come by and see us in Room 305 of the MGM Grand Conference Center, if you are.) But I do want to tee up an idea we’ve been discussing: What if we tried combining workers’ […]

What’s at Stake for GM, California’s Gig Workers

At first blush, there wouldn’t seem to be much in common between the unionized workers at GM who just walked out on strike and the gig workers at companies like Uber and Lyft that would have to be classified as employees, not contractors, and provided benefits under legislation that California approved last week. Yes, GM […]

The New Age of Reputational Risk

Insurers have for decades nurtured brands that reflect stability and caring: Prudential’s rock, the Travelers umbrella. More recently, insurers have spent billions of dollars developing hip brands: Geico’s gecko, Allstate’s Mayhem, Farmers’ “we’ve seen a thing or two.” But we’re now in an age where brands can take a hit overnight, at the hands of […]

See Innovation Obstacles Before You Run Into Them

After years of being on the sidelines, many insurance companies are on the path to innovating for growth, considering tech solutions to gain operating efficiencies, create important products and services and even develop new economic markets.  Some companies recognize the inevitable need for some form of innovation but struggle to cross the starting line; others […]

Are We Serious About Health Insurance Fraud?

Having heard so many complaints over the years about insurance fraud and the need to combat it, I was stunned and horrified to read this piece by ProPublica on a health insurance fraud. The fraud was remarkably easy to set up and—the biggest surprise to me—insurers were in no hurry to stop it even though it involved […]

Yet Another Cyber Breach

The news of another data breach, this time at Capital One, shows that, despite some progress, we still have so very far to go to head off hackers. A recent report found, for instance, a 23-day drop in the average “dwell time” for hackers—the amount of time that they spend in a target’s systems before being […]

Finding the Right Pieces to Rebuild Insurance

The insurance industry has been “Amazoned,” as customers increasingly demand the sort of easy interaction that the company provides. But the initial pressure is just a taste of what is to come, as the industry goes through the sort of “disaggregation” that Amazon has forced on the world of retailing. The change will alter the […]

Pharmaceutical regulation ripe for reform

As we wait to see what exactly happens because of the executive order that the Trump administration promises to use to cut drug prices in the U.S. (while keeping our fingers firmly crossed), let’s spend a minute understanding just how dysfunctional the system for pharmaceuticals is. If you want full-on fury, read this article, which likens […]

A Grand Challenge for the Insurance Industry

Working on a book project, I’ve done some digging into the history of X Prizes and Grand Challenges and found raging successes. I think the world of insurance and risk management should consider offering some rewards to tackle seemingly intractable problems, and I have some thoughts on where to start. Prizes for breakthroughs can be […]

The Rise of the ‘Las Vegas Business Model?’

Back in 2015 and 2016, we heard from oh-so-many insurtechs whose business model hinged on having carriers buy their gadget and give it away to customers because of the benefits the gadget provided. This model was flawed from the outset because of the prohibition in the insurance industry against this thing called rebating. Fast forward […]

Bracing for Hurricanes

Now that hurricane season has officially begun, it’s time to rethink our strategy for dealing with them. To date, the strategy mostly has been hope. Let’s hope that not too many come ashore. Let’s hope the damage isn’t too bad if they do. Let’s hope the federal government will come to our aid quickly if […]

What the Latest Everest Catastrophe Can Teach Us

The dispiriting news that 11 people died this year in efforts to summit Mount Everest brought back memories of my callow youth, when I volunteered to make the attempt for a story for the Wall Street Journal. There may also be a hopeful lesson for how the insurance industry can mature. The Everest attempt would […]

Canada inspires optimism for insurance innovation

The insurance industry is often depicted as resistant to innovation, skeptical of the cost, and unsure of the benefits from embracing innovation and new technologies. So, it was gratifying to hear from a number of insurance leaders who are optimistic about insurtechs and innovation, confident about the opportunities they can create for incumbents, and actively […]

The Hurdles Facing Innovators

A report by The Insurance Insider last week that AXA won’t contribute more funding to its insurtech venture fund underscores just how hard innovation can be for big corporations, even when you have the sort of all-star cast that a fund like XL Innovate can assemble. Picking winners and losers among investments is plenty hard—the […]

Where Were the Risk Managers for King’s Landing?

As Daenerys Targaryen unleashed her dragon on the defenseless King’s Landing in the penultimate episode of “Game of Thrones” on Sunday, millions of viewers wondered: Why didn’t the writers prepare us more for her turn to the dark side? How did the city’s artillery go from hitting everything a week earlier to hitting nothing this […]

How (Not) to Describe a Startup

Who’s ready to sign up for “a suite of legacy planning solutions for high-net-worth individuals that offers wealth accumulation, asset diversification, wealth distribution, business continuity and exclusive access to ‘proprietary investment advisory service’?” If you’re like me, your eyes glazed over during that long list of similar-sounding services that followed “individuals.” Why not just end […]

Notre Dame: Where Were the Risk Managers?

When I moved to Brussels with the Wall Street Journal/Europe in the mid-1980s, my father called a friend who had lived there to ask what his 25-year-old single son needed to know about the city. The friend replied: “Brussels is for people with families, but Paris is a short train ride away.” I spent countless […]

Maybe the Innovation Glass is Half Full?

After attending the OnRamp conference in Minneapolis last week, I come away more optimistic about innovation in insurance than I’ve been in some time.  That feeling began with the keynote panel I moderated with Allianz Life CEO Walter White and Securian Financial CEO Chris Hilger, who laid out a compelling vision. Rather than thinking about […]

Blockchain: Why Haven’t We Unlocked Its Potential?

Now that we’re a good couple of years into the fascination with the potential of blockchain, some breakthrough uses should be popping up, right? Instead, we’re starting to see articles like this one from McKinsey that suggests scaling back ambitions, at least in the short run. What gives? Some of the disappointment may be inevitable. We’ve all […]

Flood Insurance: Are the Storm Clouds Lifting?

With levees breaking and floods covering much of the Midwest, and with record snow in the Sierra Nevadas soon to start melting and rushing into California’s waterways, let’s look at where we stand on the renewal of the National Flood Insurance Program. There is reason for optimism about the NFIP, currently set to expire May […]

Innovation Rating Shows Insurers the Way Forward

As the wave of innovation in insurance has built over the past few years, incumbents have had a choice about whether to swim out and try to surf it or to stay in the shallow water and hope to not get knocked over. No longer. Last week’s announcement by A.M. Best that it will assess and score insurance companies […]

The Right Analogy to Guide Insurance Innovation

When IBM was struggling in the late 1980s and early 1990s, analysts often said the company was so big that it was going to take a while to turn around. A common image for the company was an oil tanker: You don’t just lean on the rudder and go hard left in that baby.  A […]

The Inherent Problem with AI

As much promise as artificial intelligence is showing in insurance, many forms of it present a formidable challenge related to “back-traceability.” In English, that means the AI is a black box. If it makes a mistake, you can’t trace the error back to its origin because the AI doesn’t think like we do. It doesn’t […]

Watch Your (Our) Language!

Lots of industries face criticism because they talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. But the insurance industry doesn’t even talk the talk yet. Sure, everyone is talking about improving the insurance customer experience, but look at the words we use. Many are opaque—the industry talks to itself, somehow unaware that customers are listening […]

Do You Really Need an Innovation Culture?

Insurers have caught religion about innovation enough that they’re trying to develop an innovation culture. That’s the good news. The bad news is that many are going about it wrong. They focus on the ephemeral aspects of culture and hope that innovation will eventually bubble to the service. In fact, as odd as it may […]

How Smart Is a ‘Smart Home’?

Connected, or “smart,” homes have been in the news lately—but not always for the best of reasons. Google had to issue an alert about the need to strengthen passwords on its Nest security cameras because a disturbing number were being hacked. One hacker spewed racist epithets into a family’s living room. (It’s not bad enough that you’ve […]

A Video You Need to See

My favorite video in a very long time is this one, of a man staging a slip-and-fall fraud at his workplace—while a security camera records every moment. He says in the article, “I didn’t do it. It was a mistake.” But huh? The video shows him dumping ice on the floor and lying down next to […]

PG&E: We’re Not Gonna Take It Anymore

As we sort through the PG&E plans for bankruptcy because of its liability for the California wildfires, we need to think about the implications. PG&E may be the first climate change bankruptcy, but it won’t be the last. So, what do we do? When in doubt, I use the “All the President’s Men” mantra: Follow […]

What PG&E Bankruptcy Means for the Rest of Us

For those of us who are long-suffering customers of  PG&E Corp., the giant northern California utility’s announcement that it will file for bankruptcy protection could be seen as same old, same old. After all, this is PG&E’s second trip to bankruptcy court just since the dawn of the new millennium—the first, in 2001, followed a botched […]

A New Year’s Resolution for Insurers

Looking back on the recent push for innovation in the insurance industry, I’d say that 2017 was the first year that insurtech truly piqued the curiosity of a lot of executives and companies. At the beginning of 2018, I predicted the industry would shift from talking to doing. So, where do we stand a year […]

The 12 Most-Read Articles of 2018

Given the ferment in the industry this past year, it’s no surprise that the most-read of our blog posts concerned leading-edge innovators and some hard-won lessons from innovators. Lemonade, with its genius for stirring the pot, drew the most attention, especially after it called out State Farm for an ad that disparaged some high-tech offerings, […]

Ten Signs You’re Headed for Trouble in 2019

Many of you have seen the Gartner Hype Cycle curve. When a hot technology appears, it gets hyped and hyped until one day enough people become impatient, and sentiment turns against the technology. It then heads into what Gartner calls the Trough of Disillusionment. Eventually, the technology finds its role – often a major one […]

The Emerging Opportunity in Africa

Eighty years after Karen Blixen published her memoir, “Out of Africa,” it may be time for the local insurance industry to start writing a sequel: “Into Africa.” That thought is prompted by a seminar that Africa Re hosted last week in Lagos, Nigeria, and that was put on by our chief innovation officer, Guy Fraker, […]

What Do Insurers Think About Climate Change?

As a reporter at the Wall Street Journal, I was taught to watch for news that companies would try to bury by releasing it over holiday weekends and to make sure that the news got all the coverage it deserved – maybe even a bit more, just to teach the company a lesson. In that […]

How Do We Stop the Disasters?

Heavy rains are forecast for Northern California this week, which may finally extinguish the vicious and deadly Camp Fire, but our friends in SoCal may not find relief just yet, and those caught up in the fire about 80 miles north of me still have to deal with unprecedented devastation. The latest grim numbers just […]

Fires and Innovation

To be reminded of the power of insurance these days, I just have to step out the front door. I live about 80 miles south of the Camp Fire in northern California, and, even at this distance, the effect is obvious. The color of the air—not something I usually notice—sometimes reminds me of Mordor in […]

State Farm and Lemonade: An Update

It seems we’ve struck out in trying to arrange a conversation between the CEOs of State Farm and Lemonade on what role technology should play in interactions with customers, in the wake of a State Farm ad that mocked chatbots and seemed to be aimed, at least in part, at Lemonade. We tried various dates, […]

State Farm and Lemonade: The great debate

Since I reported last week that we were trying to arrange a debate between State Farm and Lemonade following the State Farm ad dismissing chatbots such as those used by Lemonade, I’m happy to say we’ve made some progress. We’ve penciled in a date around Dec. 6 or 7, when so many of us will […]

State Farm and Lemonade Throw Down

When IBM introduced its original PC in August 1981, threatening to wipe out the little companies that were already in the market, Steve Jobs had upstart Apple take out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal whose headline was: “Welcome, IBM. Seriously.” The cheeky ad helped brand Apple, and we all know that the […]

Sears, where America shops (no longer)

In 1997, a colleague and I sat in the office of Sears CEO Arthur Martinez and tried to convince him of two ideas. First, he needed to rethink his business because of the advent of e-commerce. Second, he had a major opportunity to position Sears as what today we would call the Airbnb for home […]

The Coming Wave of M&A

While speaking this week at a PwC conference for members of the board of directors of financial services companies, I heard quite a bit of buzz about the likelihood of a wave of M&A for insurance companies and about an intriguing maneuver that could let insurers free up capital. Following the principle of Scott Van […]

Bringing Dreams to Life

Greetings from Las Vegas, where we’ve gathered for the third InsureTech Connect with 6,000 or so of our closest friends. That’s about twice as many attendees as last year, which was twice as many as the first year. Exponential growth is good, right? And the group now represents what a venture capitalist might call a […]

Which Companies Are Innovating Right?

To get a sense of which companies are innovating well, and which aren’t, ITL conducted a major study with our friends at The Institutes, and ITL Chief Innovation Officer Guy Fraker lays out the findings in the second part of his three-part series on innovation. He reports that a growing number of insurers, especially the larger […]

A Silver Lining in Florence’s Clouds?

Amid the devastation from Hurricane Florence, one hopeful sign emerged: this video from the Weather Channel. The video is so striking that nearly 17 million people have watched it or a slightly longer version on YouTube, but my point isn’t that graphics keep getting cooler. It’s that the video suggests public authorities and insurers will soon […]

The Future of Mobility Takes a Surprise Turn

While so many of us have focused on the transformative possibilities of driverless vehicles, a much simpler technology has popped up and begun to reshape transportation in cities, with lots of potential implications for insurance. The technology is what the experts are calling “micromobility” and what the rest of us know simply as scooters. The […]

When the Silicon Valley Model No Longer Works

Ever since the early 1980s, I’ve been hearing about how Silicon Valley was passé, soon to be duplicated in other parts of the world and ultimately supplanted. So I’ve become more than a little jaded as the years have passed and the valley has not only thrived but has spread south toward San Jose and […]

2 Ways to Refocus the Goals of Innovation

I’ll be quick this week because I’m a bit out of touch and more than a little tired, having spent the past three days driving my younger daughter’s household goods from home in Northern California to Washington, DC, where she just started law school and moved into an apartment. (Sunday was the big day—1,250 miles—for […]

Finding the right approach to innovation

“Insurance innovation” is often treated as an oxymoron, but it can’t be. Innovation in the world writ large doesn’t happen unless someone takes on the risk from a new technology or business model, and we all see new technologies and related business models flooding the market. Someone in the world of insurance and risk management […]

Look out for the backlash(es)

With technology, there’s always a backlash. Margaret Atwood, author of the dystopian “Handmaid’s Tale,” says, “With all technology, there is a good side, a bad side and a stupid side that you weren’t expecting.” Proponents of a technology can always paint a glowing picture of the good side and somehow get us to not even […]

Will Apple enter insurance? Google? Microsoft? Amazon?

Apple’s market value crested $1 trillion last week, and its big-tech brethren Google, Microsoft and Amazon aren’t far behind; all are valued at north of $800 billion. But to justify their valuations the companies need to keep gobbling up other markets. Might insurance be on the menu? All have at least dabbled in insurance, and […]

Let’s figure how to measure progress toward innovation

We’re going to try something new this week. Our CTO, Joe Estes, has built some exceptional chat capabilities into our Innovator’s Edge platform, and I’d like to see if we can’t use them to jointly make progress on a crucial topic: How do we measure our progress toward innovation? How do we kill bad ideas […]

How incumbents must think about innovation

Do you want to own 100% of a grape or 10% of a watermelon? That intriguing question was posed recently in an email forum on healthcare by ITL thought leader Dave Chase but applies broadly to the approach that incumbents take to innovation. Are they satisfied with owning all of their historic market, or will they go […]

The long road to healthcare innovation

Although the general reaction to the selection of Atul Gawande as CEO of the Amazon/Berkshire Hathaway/JPMorgan Chase medical joint venture known as ABC was positive and although I continue to think he was an inspired choice, Dan Munro says in an article this week: “Not so fast!”  The article, which I highly recommend, basically says the […]

The right way to measure innovation

Peter Drucker famously said that we can’t manage what we can’t measure. Now that so many of us are trying to innovate in a predictable and sustainable (in other words, manageable) way, what should we measure? What metrics will let us know whether we’re on the right path, while there’s still time to pick a […]

Innovation thrives with constraints

Anyone who thinks innovation is about an “aha” idea, the best partners or great talent should take a look at this article on the history of General Magic.  It had the best idea, essentially designing an iPhone 6 in the early 1990s. It had the best partners: Founded by Apple, the company had all the major […]

Health care innovation: As easy as ABC?

The Amazon/Berkshire Hathaway/JPMorganChase health care partnership known as ABC announced last week that it had hired as CEO the well-known innovator, author and surgeon Atul Gawande. Count me a fan. While some note that he has never run an organization anywhere close to the size that will be needed to coordinate the health care of […]

Are auto insurers leading the way in innovation?

At a time when innovators are trying to start with customers—not with our old ways of doing business—and work backward to what products, processes and systems should be, J.D. Power reports that the customer experience with auto insurers has made marked progress. Satisfaction with auto insurers has actually risen even though prices have been climbing […]

The real MVP

Out here in Northern California, the hot debate over the past few days has been a luxury: whether the NBA Finals MVP should have been the spectacular Kevin Durant or the spectacular Steph Curry. (I’m Team Steph but have no problem with Team KD—or even with those who say Golden State Warriors fans are hopelessly […]

The bible of the internet

Mary Meeker laid out her annual report on the state of the internet and e-commerce last week, and I waded through the full 294 slides so you don’t have to. (The full report is here—http://www.kpcb.com/internet-trends—for those who want all the detail.) The report by Meeker, a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, has become […]

Lightning or Just a Lightning Bug?

Mark Twain once wrote that “the difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” We’re beginning to see that distinction play out in corporate innovation programs: A few are producing lightning, but many are just catching lightning bugs. Guy Fraker, our chief […]

The most startling number

Easily the most startling number I’ve seen in ages comes from this article in the May 14 Wall Street Journal. The article is behind a paywall, and, in fact, the startling number is buried, so I’ll go directly to it: According to forthcoming research from Oliver Wyman, only 16 cents of every dollar of auto insurance premium […]

It’s Time To Reinvent the Claims Process

When I spoke at Enservio’s Property Innovation Summit last week in St. Petersburg, FL, I followed an astronaut who flew two space shuttle missions and makes guest appearances on “The Big Bang Theory” and a former FBI agent who played the key role in catching Robert Hanssen, the most notorious spy in U.S. history. I […]

You have to eat your own dog food

In Silicon Valley, a maxim is that “you have to eat your own dog food.” In other words, you have to continually use your own products, your own sales channels, your own customer support so you can experience as many of your flaws as possible before you inflict them on customers.  That sort of self-testing […]

Looking deeper than the surface for innovation

April is one of the best months for learning about early-stage companies and technological platforms influencing insurance. Why April? Because this month the Global Insurance Symposium is held in Des Moines, Iowa. What we find makes GIS so special is that both attendees and speakers take off the gloves, show a willingness to look beyond the status […]

Drive to quality in autonomous vehicle market

Another week, another controversy on autonomous vehicles. The latest involves the crash that killed a Tesla driver on March 23 while the car was in Autopilot mode. After being silent for several days, Tesla on Friday wrote a blog post assigning much of the blame, if not all, to the driver. In a blog post, the […]

Battery life improvement can charge many innovations

Lest you ever think the pace of innovation will slow, here is a story about an imminent, major improvement in the kind of battery used in mobile devices. If you thought that mobile devices were ubiquitous now and that consumers had developed an insatiable desire for interacting with, among others, insurers via mobile devices, just imagine […]

Innovation, standards and risk management

The accident in which an Uber driverless car hit and killed a pedestrian Sunday night in Tempe, AZ, got us talking about how innovation should progress in a risky world. We worry that Uber hasn’t always been as careful as, say, Google/Waymo and GM/Cruise in testing its autonomous technology. An investigation will tell the tale soon enough […]

Waiting for Innovation that Lowers Health Care Costs

When a young reporter at the Wall Street Journal would get excited about the seemingly unlimited growth prospects of a company or a market, an old hand would say, “Just remember that trees don’t grow to the sky.” That advice proved wise plenty often — think Enron, Theranos, pick-your-favorite-bust. But healthcare in the U.S. is […]

Abillity to innovate critical to insurers’ future

It’s official! The ability to innovate will play a key role in determining the future success, even viability, of insurers.  Why is it official? Because A.M. Best, the rating agency that is the industry’s gold standard, says that “companies need to innovate to protect their ability to generate profitable business, and improve operational efficiencies and […]

Build your own innovation network

For some time now, you’ve seen me mention our Innovator’s Edge platform, where we have built the best data base, bar none, on insurtechs. We’re now taking the next step, adding a framework that lets you make connections that will help you on your innovation journey.  Insurance Thought Leadership is launching the Innovator’s Edge Network, […]

Recognizing exponential innovators

Revisiting research we published on the 54 companies we cited as Innovators to Watch during 2017, we’ve identified seven we believe are Exponentials. These are the companies most likely to produce growth measured not in percentages but in multiples.  Guy Fraker, our chief innovation officer, and Paul Winston, our chief commercial officer, file this report […]

Improving chances of overcoming startup hurdles

The bankruptcy filing of an insurtech startup has drawn some recent attention, so here is our two cents: In the world of startups, the fact that Human Condition Safety filed for bankruptcy in March 2017 would generate a headline something like: “Venture-backed startup filed the first bankruptcy of the day,” or perhaps “the first bankruptcy […]

Big employers flex their health care muscles

Last week’s announcement of a healthcare venture by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase may finally shift the debate in the U.S. in what I firmly believe is the right direction. The debates on the Affordable Care Act and then on “repeal and replace” have largely focused on who pays for care. The real issue […]

Picking Winners Among 2017 Innovators to Watch

With tens of thousands of early-stage tech startups focused on transforming risk and insurance, it’s understandable if many in the insurance industry struggle to identify potential partners to drive their innovation efforts. We try to make that less of a struggle. The core of ITL’s mission is to work with entrepreneurs and incumbent insurers to […]

A shift to loss prevention

A longtime colleague at the Wall Street Journal used to advise young reporters, “If you have a good story, you should write it every once in a while.” Although I am no longer a young reporter, I’m going to take Al’s advice and return this week to what I think is one of the better […]

The Insitutes and ITL in new strategic alliance

While we often emphasize that we’re about thought leadership, not news, this week I’ll focus on two items in the news. The first is about an investment in and partnership involving…ITL. We don’t often look for headlines about ourselves, but we hope this partnership will turn out to be the most important thing we’ve done […]

The future is now for autonomous vehicles

As we head into 2018, we’re all trying to figure out what the insurance industry can expect from innovation, and whether this will be the year the industry will embrace transformation. Several of the six articles linked to below will provoke some thoughts, and you’ll see plenty more outlook pieces over the next couple of […]

Top thought leadership from 2017

Happy New Year! As an industry, we made huge progress in 2017 on our much-needed transformation, and 2018 is looking like it may be the tipping point. I think we will be in a very different place at the end of this calendar year. Even though we won’t be able to act on all of […]

Observations on insurance industry’s innovation journey

The annual EY Insurance Executive Forum in New York City last week crystallized some thoughts about the complexity of the innovation journey that insurance and risk management professionals face. So, as we head into the holiday season, while kidding ourselves about watching our eating, here is some calorie-free food for thought: I often say that […]

Six Innovators to Watch November 2017

The enthusiasm for insurtech seems to have hit a bit of a lull. Now that some have fallen by the wayside, while others are taking longer than hoped to deliver on their promise, there seems to be less buzz in the air. But the failures and sometimes longer time horizons shouldn’t be a surprise. Not […]

Getting the API right

What I want to explore today are application programming interfaces, or APIs, but the term is off-putting—technical and perhaps even intimidating. So, let’s start with two maxims from Silicon Valley that frame the issue in a friendlier way. Then, we’ll look at how a radical approach to APIs has helped Amazon be a mega-success, how […]

Driverless cars are now arriving

here has been speculation for years now about how soon driverless cars would hit the road, and we finally have our answer: The time is now.  With Google’s Waymo arm announcing deployment in Phoenix, we have our first real fleet of cars on the road without someone sitting in the driver’s seat. Deployment will be phased […]

Digital innovation to improve safety, lower costs

Progress! In recent weeks, I’ve seen a series of announcements of reductions in worker’s comp premiums because of improved safety in the workplace. For instance, Colorado approved a 13% reduction in the loss costs portion of workers’ comp rates for 2018; there was a nearly 30% decline in the rate of claims in the state between […]

How to keep innovation from driving off course

For me, one of the great moments in innovation history came in the mid-1990s as General Motors was considering rolling out OnStar across its product line. The CEO, Rick Wagoner, was understandly nervous about installing the electronics for the novel communications system in the factory. As an after-market choice for customers at far-higher cost, OnStar […]

Creative ideas needed for solving opioid epidemic

The opioid crisis in the U.S. burst into full view over the weekend based on an investigation by the Washington Post and “60 Minutes” that showed drug distributors co-opting a few in Congress to pass a law that, beginning a year and a half ago, neutered any attempts by the Drug Enforcement Agency to halt […]

Who’s On First? Keeping Score On Insurtechs

In the 1980s, when so many tech companies made so many empty promises that the term “vaporware” came into widespread use, cynical IBMers referred to their marketing department as “where the rubber meets the sky.” Last week’s InsureTech Connect gathering in Las Vegas suggests that, after some fits and starts for the insurtech movement over […]

Six Innovators to Watch – September 2017

As InsureTech Connect gets underway this week, here is our latest look at Six Innovators to Watch. (Previous honorees can be found here.) We hope that you find this month’s six, and the many others showcased at InsureTech Connect, thought-provoking and perhaps even inspirational as we try to drive innovation in insurance and risk management. Agent […]

Let the show begin

With the insurtech world descending on Las Vegas next week for the InsureTech Connect event, we will, of course, have a big presence there, and we hope to see you. It’s possible to do a lot via email, phone, Skype, etc. these days, but nothing beats face-to-face. Look for us by the entrance, near the […]

Why don’t more people buy insurance?

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and now Hurricane Irma—and with Hurricane Maria now pummeling the poor Caribbean again while Hurricane Jose looks likely to lash Long Island—it’s becoming clear how much people have avoided buying flood insurance and how expensive their decision may be. The question is: Why don’t people buy insurance? The answer […]

Disasters show insurers can change the world

The natural disasters of the last week-plus bring to mind the old chestnut: “Other than that, how’d you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?” The other-than-the-“assassination” reports have been good, thus far, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. Irma took an ever-so-slightly unexpected path, so, while electricity is out for millions and will […]

Hurricanes test insurance — and insurance innovation

With Hurricane Harvey gone and people in Houston starting to pull their flood-ravaged lives back together, here comes Hurricane Irma. This is what Irma looks and feels like at the moment, as described by our friend and colleague Guy Fraker, ITL’s chief innovation officer and a resident of the Florida Keys: “If the forecasted winds and […]

Harvey: First Big Test for Insurtech

As Hurricane Harvey finally relents, the insurance industry is about to experience the flip side of a famous line from Warren Buffett. Talking about how investment portfolios shouldn’t be judged in good times, Buffett said, “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.” Well, with the rain and the rain […]

Six Innovators to Watch – August 2017

As Hurricane Harvey devastates Houston and other parts of Texas and Louisiana, while Typhoon Hato whales on Macau and Hong Kong, we don’t have to even look past the banner headlines to see the crucial role that insurance plays in protecting society—and to see the huge opportunities in front of us if we can do […]

Should innovation be disruptive or incremental? Yes

Twenty years ago, during the initial internet boom, innovators argued loudly that the game was all about disruption, that incremental improvement was for wimps. “Faster, better, cheaper” was for those not bright or bold enough to seize the future. Over time, the idea that digital would completely replace commerce in the physical world moderated, and […]

6 steps to get innovation efforts unstuck

Our chief innovation officer, Guy Fraker, has been talking to dozens of major companies since he joined us a couple of months ago and has found that many innovation efforts at incumbents are stuck. The companies know they need to do something to take advantage of opportunities and to head off competitive threats, but they […]

Communication – past, present and future

I recently attended a lecture by a Stanford professor in which he offered an interesting take on the history of communication, as a way of shaking us out of our tendency toward “presentism”—the deep-rooted feeling that things have always been as they are now and, thus, will continue just as they are now. He said […]

Six Innovators to Watch – July 2017

We may be in the dog days of summer, but that doesn’t mean that the insurtech world is taking a vacation. Far from it. Innovation is expanding so fast that we’re now tracking nearly 2,000 companies on our Innovator’s Edge platform. We realize that keeping up with such a profusion of companies, people and ideas is hard, […]

Innovators to gather in Las Vegas

Very short note this week, as I’ve been on a wonderful but chaotic vacation with my seven siblings and families at the Jersey shore. Although we all are still enjoying summer, time goes quickly and we are only about 8 weeks out from InsureTech Connect 2017, which is the world’s largest insurtech event, offering unparalleled access […]

Greetings from London

This week’s note will be short, because most of our team is in London for the International Insurance Society’s 2017 Global Insurance Forum, and there’s a lot going on. The event, always one of the most important of the year, has attracted nearly 600 senior industry executives and thought leaders from around the world, and […]

Helping insurers to start innovating

This week’s Six Things will serve as an introduction to Guy Fraker, who joined us not long ago as chief innovation officer and who wrote an important article linked to below. That article tackles the question that he hears so frequently when he coaches big companies on how to innovate: “Where do we start?” Where […]

Taking stock of market dynamics

After eight years of gains in stock markets and a nice pop following the election of a Republican president in the U.S. in November, an old friend of mine sounded a note of alarm in the Wall Street Journal this week that I think is worth noting—he was right in a big way before the […]

Six Innovators to Watch – June 2017

While much of the coverage of the insurtech world focuses on innovations in the distribution part of the process and in the P&C arena, the 1,400 insurtechs that we monitor as part of our Innovator’s Edge service are showing plenty of sharp thinking in other areas, too. This month’s list of 6 Innovators to Watch, for instance, […]

Do we need robots in the kitchen?

Although I believe in the capabilities of technology as much as anyone, breathless articles sometimes set me off. I will now rant about one, because I think these articles should be a warning about how even smart people can get sucked in by the possibilities of digital technology of the sort that is currently turning […]

Exoskeletons in the workplace and beyond

The rest of you may not yet be thinking about what you want for Christmas, but I already know what I hope to see under the tree: one of these exoskeletons that Lowe’s is giving to a few employees in a test. The exoskeletons are only appropriate in a work setting, where people have to lift reasonably […]

Key findings from State of the Internet report

Last week, Mary Meeker released her annual opus on the state of the digital world, and I wanted to be sure you saw it. Her massive, 355-slide deck is now the bible about the state of the internet for the next year, so you’ll be seeing some of the data a lot. You should also spend […]

Six Startups to Watch – May 2017

We’ve had so many insurtechs fill out Market Maturity Reviews, providing detailed insights about themselves at our Innovator’s Edge site, that this month’s Six Startups to Watch will highlight the most interesting newcomers among the more than 1,000 startups we track. Here they are: —Understory. The company is setting up networks of inexpensive weather stations in cities […]

Small innovations that make lasting change

This week will be fairly quick, because I’m touring Civil War battlefields with my daughters, the younger of whom will soon launch into a senior thesis on some aspect of the war, and I have a long drive to Vicksburg in my immediate future. But I wanted to pass on one observation that surprised me, […]

Unlock value of insurance data from paper constraints

Who knew proof of insurance could be a major news story? I suppose you could frame the question as, How many more ways can Dwight Howard get fans mad at him? But I prefer the insurance angle. The story goes like this: The 31-year-old center for the Atlantic Hawks was pulled over a bit after […]

Finding innovation under the big top

EY last week held the glitziest event I’ve attended in some time. When I walked into a huge tent by the water along the San Francisco Bay, I was handed an iPad that contained all the information I’d need for the day. There was even a compass on the home screen that could direct me […]

Identifying insurance innovation winners

In my completely and totally unbiased view of the world, the most important news of this past week is that Guy Fraker joined us at ITL as our chief innovation officer. I’ve been a fan of Guy’s for many years—in fact, for years before I even met him. The admiration began because my frequent co-author, Chunka Mui, […]

Juice device misses a key ingredient

We can all use a chuckle from time to time, right? When it comes to innovation failures, the funniest I’ve seen in a long while popped up last week, and it provides a lesson while not having cost anyone in the insurance ecosystem a penny, so I think it’s safe for all of us to […]

Six Startups to Watch – April 2017

Here is our second monthly list of “Six Startups to Watch,” drawn from the more than 1,000 insurtechs we’re now tracking at our Innovator’s Edge site. They tackle some of the biggest issues facing insurers, and, while we all know that most startups fail, are unusually well-positioned for success, we believe. In the interests of variety, to […]

Customer experience matters

The word of the day is “re-accommodate.” As most of us have seen by now, that’s the ham-handed word that the CEO of United Airlines used to describe what employees had to do for passengers on a flight Sunday after forcibly removing a 69-year-old who refused to give up his seat at O’Hare. According to […]

Innovation takes root in unexpected places

This week will be quick, because I’m at the AAIS Main Event in beautiful Amelia Island, FL (a rough job, but somebody has to do it), where I delivered a talk to the general session and held a breakout. The best example I’ve seen of innovation thus far here came from Art Meadows, CEO of […]

Trust, But Verify

When I first met Dan Ariely (now chief behavioral officer at Lemonade, among his many other duties) 15-plus years ago, he told a story about how people will, well, cheat on their insurance applications. He said he got a large car insurer to let him experiment with 12,000 applications. For the control group of 6,000, […]

Distribution trumps innovation

A year ago, as the insurtech movement was starting to take off, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz made a presentation to our semi-annual gathering of two dozen insurance company CEOs at Google headquarters and began by saying: “Distribution trumps innovation.” In some ways, that’s an obvious statement. An innovation can’t spread until you find that […]

Insurance has its Cambrian moment

We have reached a Cambrian moment in insurance. Just as the number of animal phyla exploded during what scientists call the Cambrian period, the number of insurtechs is accelerating at an extraordinary pace, and there are no signs of slowing. Just look at what the carriers, alone, are doing. A KPMG survey of 200 insurance executives found […]

Q&A With Iowa’s New Commissioner

Q: Congratulations on becoming the new Iowa insurance commissioner. You’re a Missouri native with 30 years of experience in the industry. What brought you to Iowa? A: Thank you very much. About four years ago, I met Nick Gerhart, who was beginning his tenure as Iowa’s insurance commissioner. We had really good discussions at NAIC […]

Six Startups to Watch – March 2017

Drumroll, please. I’m delighted to share the inaugural edition of our “Six Startups to Watch” list, drawn from the 929 insurtechs we now track at our Innovator’s Edge site. These six have the potential to change the game. Even though I have followed innovation long enough to know very well that most startups fail, all six are […]

Taking note when risk management goes right

We were excited to learn last week that the Risk & Insurance Management Society has named Loren Nickel as its Risk Manager of the Year. Loren has been on our advisory board for going on a year…but is perhaps a bit better-known for his day job as the director of business risk and insurance at Google. […]

How Insurance Will Become Invisible

A couple of years ago, lots of people in insurance were looking over their shoulders, because of concerns that a tech giant such as Google, Amazon or Facebook might innovate in some shocking way and take over the industry. That threat has faded, but a recent story about Tesla from a transportation news site should make us all […]

Separating the wheat from the chaff

Toward the end of my days as a reporter at the Wall Street Journal, some friends started calling me Dr. Death, because everything I covered seemed to shrivel up. IBM was the most important company in the world when I started writing about it in 1986 and was having a near-death experience by the time […]

Rise to the occasion

If you’ll allow me to be parochial for a moment, I’ll start this week with the Oroville Dam, which is 75 miles due north of me. You’ve probably seen or heard some reference to the dam over the past few days because a series of severe storms in California has caused serious structural problems at […]

The Force of Clouds

Nearly 40 years ago, a Harvard MBA student named Dan Bricklin got tired of having to recalculate all the values in a spreadsheet every time a variable changed. Having been a computer science major at MIT, Bricklin sat down with a buddy and produced an electronic spreadsheet for the Apple II.  Fast forward to the […]

Invisibility as a design principle for insurance

I’m speaking at a gathering of life insurance executives this week on the Gulf coast of Florida, and a topic that I’ll address is one that merits wider consideration: the need for invisibility. There’s been talk about how insurance may be switching paradigms: Rather than having policies be “sold, not bought,” we’re now moving toward […]

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! As we gear up for what will surely be an eventful 2017, one of my first resolutions (other than really and truly getting into shape this year — really — truly) is to provide some more commentary on how I see the industry evolving, based on my three decades of experience watching […]

The Four Stages of Innovation

This week, I get a real treat. That’s because we at ITL are hosting our third Shaping the Future symposium, which will gather nearly 30 insurance company CEOs on the Google campus for a day and a half that will surely challenge us and make us all smarter about the transformation of the insurance industry.  […]

What Trump Means for Business

Donald Trump’s stunning win in the U.S. presidential election, together with the election of Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate, has generated a wave of coverage about the deep changes that will surely occur with Obamacare but not nearly as much about what the voting will likely mean for businesses in general and the […]

What Trump Means for Business

Donald Trump’s stunning win in the U.S. presidential election, together with the election of Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate, has generated a wave of coverage about the deep changes that will surely occur with Obamacare but not nearly as much about what the voting will likely mean for businesses in general and […]

The Latest Charts on Internet Statistics

Mary Meeker gave her always-anticipated, annual presentation on the state of the Internet this week, and I thought I should share with you. Here is the link to her massive, 213-slide presentation: http://www.kpcb.com/internet-trends. You will certainly see numbers or even whole slides proliferate in coming days and weeks, but I encourage you to at least skim […]

The Latest Charts on Internet Statistics

Mary Meeker gave her always-anticipated, annual presentation on the state of the Internet this week, and I thought I should share with you. Here is the link to her massive, 213-slide presentation: http://www.kpcb.com/internet-trends. You will certainly see numbers or even whole slides proliferate in coming days and weeks, but I encourage you to at least […]

The Myth of the Protection Gap

A friend and colleague, Chunka Mui, once said, “Marketing is when a company lies to its customers. Market research is when a company lies to itself.” In the insurance industry, talk of the protection gap manages to combine both problems: It’s something of a lie to customers and is an even bigger lie to ourselves. People […]

The Myth of the Protection Gap

A friend and colleague, Chunka Mui, once said, “Marketing is when a company lies to its customers. Market research is when a company lies to itself.” In the insurance industry, talk of the protection gap manages to combine both problems: It’s something of a lie to customers and is an even bigger lie to ourselves. […]

Smart Homes Are Still Way Too Stupid

It’s nice to know sharp people — in this case, Rich Jaroslovsky, a former colleague at the Wall Street Journal who is now a vice president at SmartNews. He just wrote a takedown of the smart home that saved me the trouble. I had visited the topic in a general way a year ago in an article taking issue […]

Smart Homes Are Still Way Too Stupid

It’s nice to know sharp people — in this case, Rich Jaroslovsky, a former colleague at the Wall Street Journal who is now a vice president at SmartNews. He just wrote a takedown of the smart home that saved me the trouble. I had visited the topic in a general way a year ago in […]

What I Learned at Google (Part 2)

We didn’t intend to write a series on the symposium that Insurance Thought Leadership hosted at Google last week for C-suite executives of major companies and for regulators, but I want to build on the wonderful post yesterday by Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart, about the insights he picked up there. For me, the symposium […]

What I Learned at Google (Part 2)

We didn’t intend to write a series on the symposium that Insurance Thought Leadership hosted at Google last week for C-suite executives of major companies and for regulators, but I want to build on the wonderful post yesterday by Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart, about the insights he picked up there. For me, the symposium underscored a crucial […]

The Hemingway Model of Disruption

In Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, a character is asked how he went bankrupt. “Two ways,” he says. “Gradually, then suddenly.” In my experience covering innovation for nearly three decades, that’s how disruption has come to a host of industries: IT, newspapers, books, retail, music, etc. What I think of as the Hemingway model for disruption […]

The Hemingway Model of Disruption

In Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, a character is asked how he went bankrupt. “Two ways,” he says. “Gradually, then suddenly.” In my experience covering innovation for nearly three decades, that’s how disruption has come to a host of industries: IT, newspapers, books, retail, music, etc. What I think of as the Hemingway model […]

Beginning of the End for Car Insurance?

Volvo’s statement last week that it would accept all liability when its cars are in autonomous mode takes the threat to traditional auto insurance to a whole new level. Google and Mercedes have already made similar promises, so we now have three major companies saying they will treat certain car accidents as product liability issues and will take […]

Beginning of the End for Car Insurance?

Volvo’s statement last week that it would accept all liability when its cars are in autonomous mode takes the threat to traditional auto insurance to a whole new level. Google and Mercedes have already made similar promises, so we now have three major companies saying they will treat certain car accidents as product liability issues […]

The Problem With Telematics

When I attended the Insurance Telematics USA conference in Chicago earlier this month, I expected to see much more enthusiasm. I first wrote about Progressive’s venture into telematics all the way back in the late 1990s, and technology has improved so much since then that the telematics industry would surely be bragging about its breakout […]

The Problem With Telematics

When I attended the Insurance Telematics USA conference in Chicago earlier this month, I expected to see much more enthusiasm. I first wrote about Progressive’s venture into telematics all the way back in the late 1990s, and technology has improved so much since then that the telematics industry would surely be bragging about its breakout […]

How Google Thinks About Insurance

For those of us wondering what Google plans to do in insurance — isn’t that all of us? — it’s worth looking at the company’s Project Sunroof. The project uses exceptionally sophisticated mapping data to determine which homeowners would most benefit from solar panels and, in the process, may provide some insight into how Google […]

Insurance Needs a New Vocabulary

Lots of industries face criticism because they talk the talk but don’t walk the talk — the computer industry, for instance, long talked about making machines intuitive but required users to work their way through manuals and memorize long series of steps before they could accomplish anything. But the insurance industry doesn’t even talk the […]

Insurance Needs a New Vocabulary

Lots of industries face criticism because they talk the talk but don’t walk the talk — the computer industry, for instance, long talked about making machines intuitive but required users to work their way through manuals and memorize long series of steps before they could accomplish anything. But the insurance industry doesn’t even talk the […]

Keen Insights on Customer Experience

The need to improve customers’ experiences in interacting with insurers strikes me as so acute that I’m going to take a shot at the issue here, even though we’ve been hitting it hard in a series of articles from Capgemini and Salesforce over the past month. (The articles are here, here, here and here, and a related white paper is here.) I want […]

Keen Insights on Customer Experience

The need to improve customers’ experiences in interacting with insurers strikes me as so acute that I’m going to take a shot at the issue here, even though we’ve been hitting it hard in a series of articles from Capgemini and Salesforce over the past month. (The articles are here, here, here and here, and […]

How Google Thinks About Insurance

For those of us wondering what Google plans to do in insurance — isn’t that all of us? — it’s worth looking at the company’s Project Sunroof. The project uses exceptionally sophisticated mapping data to determine which homeowners would most benefit from solar panels and, in the process, may provide some insight into how Google is […]

How Google Is Wrong About the Internet

Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, said this week that the Internet will disappear — “There will be so many IP addresses, so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with, that you won’t even sense it,” he said. Now, Eric is a very smart fellow; he’s worth several billion […]

Let’s Tone Down Hope for ‘Wearables’

There is an old line in Silicon Valley: “Never confuse a clear view with a short distance.” We should keep that in mind as we think about wearable devices such as the Apple watch that are designed, among other things, to help us monitor and improve our health. The view is crystal clear, but we’re still a […]

Let’s Tone Down Hope for ‘Wearables’

There is an old line in Silicon Valley: “Never confuse a clear view with a short distance.” We should keep that in mind as we think about wearable devices such as the Apple watch that are designed, among other things, to help us monitor and improve our health. The view is crystal clear, but we’re […]

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