Why 5G Will Rock the Insurance World

After mobile internet, smart phones and 4G changed the way customers consumed, 5G is about to change everything again.

The first time I logged in to the internet, I had a dial-up modem and a large desktop computer with tower, a separate keyboard and giant speakers. After the dial tone, there were  squeaks and honks as the computer took its time logging in. Then the words flashed across the screen: “You’ve Got Mail.” It was an iconic moment for me and one that millions of people around the world would experience in their own time. Then there were cellphones. You could literally talk to anyone anywhere, as long as there was a signal and you had saved some serious money. Later, smartphones were developed and once again changed the playing field. I found myself able to download apps that I didn’t know I needed, check my bank account or the status of my Amazon package and update my status from my phone – reaching all my friends no matter their or my location. Long gone were the days of dial-up and slow connection speeds. Now, I find myself refreshing when my phone doesn’t access the site I want after 15 seconds. All these developments in technology and society provided the finance and insurance industry with tremendous challenges. While other industries built new revenue streams on top of the internet and digital infrastructure, a lot of insurance companies are struggling with providing the most basic digital services to their customers. And it’s about to get worse. 5G – a new form of mobile internet – is going to accelerate things. A lot. 5G means high-speed mobile internet There are a lot of questions surrounding 5G services: What does 5G mean? How fast is it? When will it launch? Probably the biggest question surrounding 5G services is: How will we and our customers use it? One of the most important things to know about 5G services is that it will most likely bolster economies worldwide. The website Innovator cited a report by IHS Markit and Research Group that predicts “by 2035 5G will create 22 million jobs globally, generate $3.5 trillion in direct economic activity and fuel sustainable long-term growth to global real GDP.” 5G is a game changer, just like the internet, computers, motor vehicles, and the wheel. It will change the world as we know it. What does 5G mean? How fast is it? When will it launch? Techopedia says: “Fifth-generation wireless (5G) is a wireless networking architecture built on the 802.11ac IEEE wireless networking standard, which aims to increase data communication speeds by up to three times compared with its predecessor, 4G.” Reports vary as to how much faster 5G will be; some reports say 10x faster, and other reports indicate that it could be 20x faster or more. Much of the improvement will have to do with locations and service providers, but it’s going to be a large jump. We may have to wait a little, but this train has left the station – and it’s not coming back. While 5G operators are beginning to roll out their systems this year, most markets won’t be up and running until 2019, and more likely 2020. See also: What Will Operations Look Like in 2028?   For retail, that sounds far away. For the insurance industry, with long planning cycles and gigantic project portfolios, that means “tomorrow.” How will we use 5G? Many are questioning what the purpose is of faster service, especially those who are content with 4G services. 5G goes beyond the mobile phone user. While users may see a boost in service (especially in downloads and streaming), 5G technology is going to improve how the world operates. Users will have increased connectivity. Apps for which heavy computers are now necessary could transfer tremendous amounts of data quickly, probably providing digital services we can’t imagine today. With a smart 5G strategy, the insurance companies could expand One special case for the insurance industry: 5G technologies are going to streamline the Internet of Things (IoT), especially for consumer usage. So, after mobile internet, smart phones and 4G changed the way customers consumed, 5G is about to change everything again. Right now, our smartphones can talk to individual devices, but with 5G technology speeds we can further streamline these smart devices and achieve breakthroughs where they speak to each other instead. Imagine if your refrigerator could tell your oven when your steak had finished defrosting, and the oven automatically started pre-heating! Imagine that an oven could warn the customer that crucial parts are overheating, and a fire is likely. Imagine that an insurer informs the customer and that he can act on the information. Imagine how the customer would fall in love with his carrier or agent after he saves the customer's house? In addition to general consumer usage, 5G is going to make a huge impact in industry and commercial insurance. With 5G technology, we will be able to track shipments in real time, upload information from doctors' offices instantly and watch videos everywhere, without having to consider the bandwidth. Autonomous cars may become a broad reality, as they can generate real time data with which to operate. Drones will be able to provide better feedback and travel farther. Industry and manufacturing automation can improve with smart factories and the use of artificial intelligence. Currently, there are some factories using artificial intelligence to trouble shoot designs, and IoT technology to determine when machinery needs servicing. With 5G technology, these types of programs can be adopted by more companies and expanded to further suit the manufacturing needs. All of this has tremendous impact on calculating risk and preventing claims – the core of our industry. With smart vehicles being so much more efficient, and safe, we can expect to see insurance rates drop, according to an article on Innovator. We can also expect to see faster transactions and approvals. With a wealth of information at our fingertips, it may only be a matter of time before purchasing a home goes from a months-long ordeal, to something that takes place in a weekend (or faster) or even maybe without a bank at all. “5G will impact every industry – autos, healthcare, manufacturing and distribution, emergency services, just to name a few. And 5G is purposely designed so that these industries can take advantage of cellular connectivity in ways that wouldn’t have been possible before, and to scale upward as use of 5G expands" -- Don Rosenberg shared this thought as part of the World Economic Forum. Rosenberg also said 4G led to innovations like Uber and Spotify. How will 5G affect, say, Facebook's business model? What other changes have yet to be imagined? See also: How Digital Platform Smooths Operations   The world is constantly changing, though some “groundbreaking” innovations do little to change it. Then something like 5G services come along and completely change the foundation of how our world operates. 5G will change us, on a worldwide level. What to do? Don’t love your products – love your customer. Instead of fearing the next challenge after the landline-based and mobile internet, why should we not use this as an opportunity to expand our value chain? Why shouldn’t we put ourselves between the customer and product and service providers instead of leaving this interface to the customer to the old and emerging tech giants from California and China? Why shouldn’t we provide our customers digital products and services that relieve them of friction and pain in their daily lives? Why should not we use 5G as an opportunity to get ahead and become a trusted companion in the daily life of our customers? It’s still our choice.

Robin Kiera

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Robin Kiera

Dr. Robin Kiera has worked in several management positions in insurance and finance. Kiera is a renowned insurance and insurtech expert. He regularly speaks at technology conferences around the world as a keynote or panelist.


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