'Innovation in Action' Award Winners

Not long ago, the rate of adoption of emerging technologies and of innovation that we saw this year would have been unthinkable.

SMA has announced the winners of the 2015 SMA Innovation in Action Awards, recognizing three insurers for truly ground-breaking projects and initiatives with demonstrable real-world impact. In conjunction with the announcement of the winners, SMA published a collection of case studies on all the insurer award submissions this year, showcasing the remarkable innovation taking place in the industry today.

The submissions for the SMA Innovation in Action Award ranged from the introduction of business models to the invention of creative distribution models, along with an array of technology projects that focus on the adoption of maturing and emerging technologies that position insurers to differentiate and win in the industry.

Last year, a chief characteristic of the winners was that they were using maturing technologies like telematics and cloud in unexpected ways to really differentiate their projects and solutions. That pattern shifted among the 2015 winners, who focused on initiatives using several emerging technologies in combination with each other or in combination with maturing technologies. Not long ago, the rate of adoption of emerging technologies that we saw this year would have been unthinkable. Now, insurers are clearly realizing the advantage of implementing emerging technologies in tandem with maturing technologies, as seen in this year’s insurer winners:

Haven Life Insurance Agency

Offers the first solution for purchasing medically underwritten term life insurance online. Haven Life users can calculate their needs, then apply for and start coverage on the Haven Term policy in about 20 minutes. Its sophisticated underwriting algorithms leverage external data sources to render an instant decision on applications. By reinventing the traditional, four- to six-week process of buying life insurance into an entirely online, 20-minute process, Haven Life has successfully streamlined how life insurance policies are sold, underwritten and administered.

The John Hancock Vitality Program

Offers a new approach to life insurance that rewards policyholders for the steps they take to promote their health and wellbeing. The program fosters a revolutionary bond between policyholder and life insurer using interactive emerging technologies like wearables and "gamification." Activities, including exercise and annual health screenings, can be tracked via a mobile app, a dedicated website or a free Fitbit to earn Vitality Points that determine a member’s status for a broad range of rewards and premium savings.


Is a pioneer in the use of drones in the insurance industry, particularly in P&C claims following natural disasters. In collaboration with the nonprofit Roboticists Without Borders, USAA deployed drones after the Oso, WA, mudslides in 2014 to provide data and imagery to county officials to assist in rebuilding. USAA was also the first insurer to file a request with the FAA for permission to utilize fixed-wing drones for research and development.

These insurers are springboarding into the future with forward-thinking applications that use a wide range of different technologies to differentiate their offerings, the customer experience and company capabilities. Their winning initiatives demonstrate commendable examples of innovation in action.

Karen Furtado

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Karen Furtado

Karen Furtado, a partner at SMA, is a recognized industry expert in the core systems space. Given her exceptional knowledge of policy administration, rating, billing and claims, insurers seek her unparalleled knowledge in mapping solutions to business requirements and IT needs.


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