Top 5 Themes in Commercial Lines

Key priorities are clearly centered on the agent/broker for growth, with some early investments in the customer and emerging technologies.


SMA has tracked the changing course of business and technology projects in the insurance industry for nine years. Our recent research study for our Strategic Initiatives in Insurance series and our work with insurers shows that the P&C commercial lines industry is going through change – change that is having a profound impact on strategies, priorities and technology investments. We continue to see significant spending and shifts in commercial lines that are lining up with insurers’ strategies surrounding transformation and growth.

For commercial lines, the mode of operations is balanced between growth at 40% and transformation at 41%, but 10% of commercial lines insurers are still in sustaining mode. Commercial lines continue to lag behind personal lines in transformation. But when you look more closely at commercial lines investments, small commercial is focused and pushing the envelope for change and digital transformation.

See also: The 5 Big Initiatives in Commercial Lines  

The study reveals that key shifts and priorities are clearly centered on the agent/broker for growth, with some new world initiatives and early investments in the customer and emerging technologies. Five major themes have emerged that reflect how commercial lines are changing today as they prepare for the future.

  • It’s still all about the agent/broker. Commercial lines insurers know growth will be accomplished with investments on sales and service portals, agent upload/download and CRM systems, along with enhancing the user experience.
  • All aspects of data are hot, from master data management to predictive analytics and big data. Business intelligence, operational analytics and unstructured data analysis continue to be big investment areas.
  • Insurers are starting to invest in and around direct-to-customer with pure technology investments to support websites, customer communication and enterprise content management, all of which have direct ties to digital strategies and core system replacements.
  • Early investments and shifts in emerging technologies investments provide amazing new opportunities. Over half of the insurers are investing in virtual assistants, chatbots and AI.
  • Core systems and rating engine investments continue, with many policy and claims projects in flight. Insurers are starting to rethink architectures and look for solutions that reduce time, cost and complexity.

SMA encourages commercial lines insurers to look carefully at what is happening around them, both inside and outside the insurance industry today, to keep an eye on the new trends and emerging technologies and to blend the best of their traditional strengths with the new world initiatives, ensuring that they are well-aligned to their own strategies.

Senior leaders should take into consideration all of the various project areas in the report – business, technology and tools, and data and analytics – and prioritize in every area. These projects are baseline requirements for remaining competitive. Pay special attention to both the agent/broker and customer-centric investments and make sure that all areas of data and analytics investments are moving forward. See also: Commercial Lines: Best Is Yet to Come Click here to learn more about our latest report and the other reports in our 2018 Strategic Initiatives Series.

Deb Smallwood

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Deb Smallwood

Deb Smallwood, the founder of Strategy Meets Action, is highly respected throughout the insurance industry for strategic thinking, thought-provoking research and advisory skills. Insurers and solution providers turn to Smallwood for insight and guidance on business and IT linkage, IT strategy, IT architecture and e-business.


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