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December 12, 2016

EY’s Outlook for L&A, P&C in 2017

Summary:

In 2017, the focus of innovation will start to shift from reducing costs to reinventing products and business models.

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The coming year promises to be a year of continued disruption on several fronts for the insurance industry, including consumer demands, digital technology, cybersecurity and the shifting political landscape. The slow growth of the U.S. economy, coupled with market shifts, will also be prominent factors in 2017.

Insurers are looking at machine learning to make underwriting decisions. They are looking at all kinds of data, from medical to behavioral. They know they cannot take months to underwrite a policy. They need to do it in days – and, soon, even quicker.

This is an ideal time to make plans that take into account the future of the nature of work. Insurers now have the opportunity to introduce new technology, such as robotics, and more effective workforce management activities. By taking out repetitive tasks, they can produce an even more industrious and stimulating work environment for people.

See also: One Foot In Healthcare: Property And Casualty Payer Integration  

Below are the top strategic priorities from the 2017 EY U.S. life-annuity and property-casualty insurance outlooks.

Life-annuity strategic priorities

  1. Prepare for regulatory change. From rules on consumer protection and transparency, to financial solvency and cybersecurity – and now a potential shift in overall policy direction – the regulatory landscape for life insurers has never been more complex. Insurers should develop a strategy to comply with the new Department of Labor fiduciary rule, and be prepared to course-correct; as well as confirm that internal systems can keep up with regulatory change overall.
  2. Stay centered on the customer. The customer can be a valuable compass to companies mapping a strategy in changing times. Insurers should use this resource by applying analytics to gain deeper customer insights, creating a strong cross-channel customer experience and rethinking go-to-market approaches to meet changing investor needs.
  3. Re-evaluate strategies for a changing marketplace. With the industry in transition, and a new administration taking office, this is an ideal time for management teams to carefully asses their current market position and plan for where they would like to be, long-term. In addition to reassessing strategic positioning for the years ahead, insurers should also consider using M&A to improve competitive positioning and should also look to find the right insurtech strategy for the firm.
  4. Take digital transformation to the next level. 2017 will be a year of continued experimentation, and the focus of innovation will start to shift from reducing costs to reinventing products and business models. To do this, insurers should be prepared to enter the next phase of digital innovation by getting control of data across the enterprise and by using technology to improve current business approaches.
  5. Make cybersecurity a top strategic priority. Given the vast amount of personal and health data that resides in insurance firms, and their complex vendor relationships, building a robust data security system is both crucial and challenging. To do this, insurers should look to make cybersecurity a continuous business activity by drawing on technology and people to secure data.
  6. Close the talent gap. 2017 is the year to determine the critical workforce skills that insurers will need to drive the business forward. Insurers can build new talent management strategies by assessing whether the firm has the needed talent for the future and by creating clear pathways to transfer knowledge.

See also: 4 Mandates for Agents in Sharing Economy  

Property-casualty strategic priorities

  1. Focus on customer-driven innovation. To adapt to a fast-moving marketplace and differentiate themselves from competitors, insurers must stay laser-focused on the customer and adapt their go-to-market strategies. To do this, they can nurture a culture of innovation, which will help accelerate the development of new products and business models.
  2. Use technology to drive top- and bottom-line performance. In the face of shrinking returns, insurers will need to apply advanced analytics systematically across the value chain, as well as drive costs savings by drawing on robotics to automate insurance processes and build smart technology into future plans to remain competitive.
  3. Put cybersecurity high on the corporate agenda. As with life-annuity insurers, cybersecurity is also a key topic for property-casualty insurers. In 2017, cyber risks will increase exponentially as digital technology becomes more pervasive, and cyber-attackers more sophisticated. Insurers should prepare for the next stage of cyber-risk and implement an active defensive system to protect against attack.
  4. Rethink strategies to attract, develop and retain talent. With a large percentage of the workforce retiring in the years ahead, and digital transformation accelerating, 2017 will be a good time to take a hard look at future work needs. Insurers can start by understanding the millennial mindset and identifying the digital expertise they will need in the future.

Here are the complete reports:

2017 EY U.S. life-annuity insurance outlook

2017 EY U.S. property-casualty insurance outlook

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About the Author

Dave Hollander is EY’s global insurance advisory leader and Americas co-sector lead for insurance. He has more than 30 years of experience in the insurance industry, with broad business and IT strategy as well as hands-on leadership and implementation of major operational change programs.

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