Commercial lines insurers have endured their fair share of ups and downs since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic over two years ago. And, through the course of 2022, geopolitical conflicts and inflation have rocked economies, leading to further uncertainty about the stability of markets worldwide. Undoubtedly, insurers are planning for expected and unexpected events that may disrupt their businesses in the New Year, but are these plans shifting how insurers approach innovative, transformational technologies?
For years, SMA has been tracking insurers' plans and progress in transformational technologies in commercial lines and is revealing new insights in the recently published report, "Transformational Technologies in P&C Commercial Lines: Insurers' Progress in 2022 and Future Predictions." The report examines 13 transformational technologies and their impact now and in the future. What is evident is that investments in digital, artificial intelligence and connected world technologies remain top priorities for insurers, but data shows they are being strategic about how they accelerate certain technologies.
One example of a technology that has high activity around it moving into 2023 is machine learning (ML). Eight in 10 commercial lines insurers are investing in ML today, mainly via predictive models, and insurers increasingly recognize its foundational support of other AI technologies and applications. In fact, at this pace, ML is expected to become embedded in nearly every aspect of the insurance business soon. Computer vision is on a similar trajectory of becoming a revolutionary technology and is slowly gaining traction within commercial lines. Although some insurers have progressed with computer vision in the past few years, most remain in the beginning planning stages. But given how valuable aerial imagery is for claims and underwriting, solutions based on computer vision are expected to become standard and mandatory within the commercial property segment.
See also: The Risks of AI and Machine Learning
Insurers are also keeping a pulse on technologies that may be further out on their strategic planning horizon but have potential long-term implications. For example, autonomous vehicles (AV) could transform many aspects of our lives, and tests are already underway in controlled, campus-like environments. There are vehicles on the roadways with various levels of autonomous features. Insurers' activity in AV today is very low – only 18% have plans moving into 2023 – but it is still critical for commercial lines to fully understand the nuances of these vehicles and the risks they may present.
Although some insurers are practicing moderation in their activity and investment in some technologies, it would be imprudent to hold back plans and risk falling behind peers. The rapidly advancing technological environment and the dramatic changes wrought by the seemingly never-ending pandemic indicate that transformational technologies demand constant monitoring. Insurers must continually renew and review strategies to prioritize and address business problems and new opportunities.
For more information on commercial lines insurers' plans for transformational technologies, see SMA's recently published research report: “Transformational Technologies in P&C Commercial Lines: Insurers' Progress in 2022 and Future Predictions." Watch for a companion report on personal lines that will be released in the near term.