ITC was an action-packed week with over 8,000 attendees and participants across all aspects of the industry! The energy was amazing and contagious! Majesco once again was active and hosted a panel discussion with executives from MMG, Foresight and Combined, with over 250 attendees (standing room only) and lots of questions after the session for all of us. Why such interest?
Because the industry is rapidly moving forward. Even with challenging macro-economic conditions, there was excitement about the future. What also became clear is companies not actively engaged in optimizing their current business and innovating for the future are at risk. Future industry leaders are doing both aggressively.
Our panel discussion provided a view into what is reshaping the insurance marketplace and a new generation of leaders. We talked about five key trends that are foundational for insurance leaders.
Welcome to the customer of the future. New expectations. Different lifestyles and behaviors. Robust digital proficiency. New risk needs. Demand for great experiences at the core. An expectation of value.
Today’s customers are increasingly disillusioned with the traditional insurance approach, creating a loyalty fault line between customers’ expectations and insurers’ ability to deliver what they want and need. While risk and trust tend to be constants, customers increasingly have no guaranteed loyalty to old models, even for trusted brands.
Customers are seeking simple, holistic experiences across their lifecycle and demonstrated empathy. Customers are no longer simply looking for a claim payout. They are seeking help with life and whole-life management. They are expanding their view of financial wellness. Rather than looking at life, health, retirement, auto or property risk separately, customers are increasingly seeking companies that help them manage insurance needs more holistically and broadly through the products, customer experiences and services they provide.
Digital transformation is required to create a business for a very different future — the one customers expect..
See also: What Future Will We Choose?
Insurance can be difficult, complex and time-consuming, with products and services that don’t appear to deliver value. Today’s customers expect more. They want a risk product, valuable services and an experience that provides them what they need to manage their lives. This means that insurance products and services are shifting to prevention and mitigation of risk. And in the process, they are humanizing the entire customer lifecycle.
Part of the humanizing aspect is offering niche, personalized products, services and experiences that align to their specific risk need and use their personal data. From an increased interest in life, critical illness and disability insurance to telematics and cyber insurance and more, customers want insurance products that assess their personal risk, lifestyle and behaviors.
Traditional product-oriented strategies, however, handicap insurers. Instead, insurers must consider a product to be inclusive of the risk product, valuable services and the customer experience to meet customer expectations of delivering value. Part of that value is providing risk-prevention and mitigation capabilities and services that help customers avoid or mitigate losses, dramatically redefining the customer experience.
Our panelists talked about the innovative approaches they are taking to deliver value by offering more than just the risk product, such as a new critical illness product that provides DNA testing to support personalized cancer treatments, a new dental product that includes a smart toothbrush to monitor brushing for improved health and a workers' comp product that supports safety and risk monitoring.
The bottom line… The potential is limitless to deliver greater value to customers' we just need to think outside the box and keep the customer lifecycle and needs in focus.
Market Reach and Channels
Complexity and out-of-date insurance processes affect almost every line of products. Many insurer innovations are refocusing to a “buying” over “selling” approach, through a multi-channel strategy that meets customers where and when they want to buy. If distribution channels are easy to use, with products that are easy to understand, then insurance has an opportunity to grow through friction-free, multi-channel distribution.
While agents and brokers remain a dominant channel, new channels, such as marketplaces and embedded insurance, are gaining a lot of attention and traction. In fact, embedded insurance was the hottest topic of discussion at ITC and one we have done a lot of research on.
Insurers looking to compete will find it challenging to do it alone. Creating an ecosystem of connected channels, using a range of digital capabilities and connecting with customers when and how they want to, requires collaboration.
In today’s connected world, insurance must play across a wide distribution spectrum of channel options, expanding channels and partners to reach customers when, where and with whom they want to buy insurance. These options form a distribution ecosystem that expands reach but requires a partnership approach, particularly for embedded channels. Embedded insurance completely changes this paradigm. With it, insurance is no longer sold, because it is bought as a part of something else.
The new and growing spectrum of channel options now available, especially the exciting opportunities for embedded insurance, will give innovative insurers and their partners tremendous opportunities for growth, with new markets, new offerings, satisfied and loyal customers…and growing books of business.
See also: Boldly Insure Where No One Has Gone
Technology provides a foundation to adapt, innovate and deliver at speed to execute on strategy and market shifts. The rising importance and adoption of platform technologies, APIs, microservices, digital capabilities, new/non-traditional data sources and advanced analytics capabilities are now crucial to industry leadership.
From the front office to the back office, SaaS platforms are reshaping the business focus from policy to customer, from process to experience, from static to dynamic pricing, from point-in-time underwriting to continuous underwriting, from historical view of data to predictive and prescriptive data, from traditional products to innovative products and so much more. Insurers’ ability to create and grow an ecosystem of partners to deliver increased value to the customer relationship will deepen and differentiate customer loyalty.
What distinguishes insurance leaders? In our discussion and in many of the sessions at ITC, it was evident that leaders see the market and technological trends as a many-fold opportunity for insurance. Leaders focus on initiatives instrumental to creating new business models, expanding distribution channels, entering new markets, adding services and developing new products by leveraging technology as a foundation and catalyst for innovation. Leaders establish a strong operational and technology foundation that brings together SaaS next-gen core insurance systems, digital experience platforms, partnerships, ecosystems and data and analytics. These are built on a modern architecture using integrated microservices or APIs running in the cloud with a focus on speed and scale.
Leaders also use technology to fundamentally change the business operating model and to innovate – two key aspects tracked by AM Best in their innovation ratings, reflected in our Strategic Priorities research and AM Best assessments.
There is increasing evidence that those who focus on next-gen core, incorporate new sources of data and analytics, expand channels to reach new market segments and customers and offer innovative products and services are leaping forward from the competition in operational effectiveness and growth. Along the way, these insurers create a new, sustainable business model. They grow their expertise at providing compelling customer experiences to capture new business and foster a greater sense of partnership, trust and loyalty.
It is clear, even with the macro-economic headwinds and other market challenges, every aspect of insurance is being redefined in the context of the future, and next-generation technology is foundational for that future.
Talent constraints are forcing companies to get creative. The Great Resignation, including increased early retirements is affecting the knowledge base. A move to virtual or hybrid work models is changing how companies transform themselves. The expanding gig economy and contract workers are giving us workplace in constant motion. Competition for talent and low unemployment rates have created their own source of inflation. These historic trends are fundamentally changing the essence of the workforce, affecting both the insurance culture and the balance sheet.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the insurance industry is about halfway through a massive 15-year shift, with 50% of the workforce retiring by 2028. For some insurers, it is even more dramatic, with some projecting 40% of their workforce will be eligible for retirement within the next three to five years. The loss of these employees will create a brain drain and loss of institutional and industry knowledge that insurers will be challenged to replace. Adding to this is the lack of interest in insurance … because it is not necessarily seen as cool or sexy when compared with other industries.
To respond to the key trends shifting the insurance industry, retention and access to talent is crucial. The panel discussed a range of areas they are focused on, including: partnerships with local colleges to prepare and attract talent, retraining existing employees, embracing workforce flexibility with remote working, accelerating digital transformation operationally with next-gen core, data and analytics and digital. All of this will help insurers both capture the institutional and industry knowledge and decrease the dependence on those leaving, redefining jobs and roles that are more aligned to valued work and leveraging next-gen technology that will make roles broader and more effective. The result will be a reduction in siloed and transactional roles, and a greater degree of satisfaction and experience as employees engage with customers and channels.
Leaders are finding ways to find and keep talent that is crucial and foundational to building and growing their new digital-first customer-focused businesses.
The Secret Sauce
What separates leaders from others? What is the secret sauce that increases the chance for success? Fundamentally, what separates successful leaders from others is their focus on strategy – both operational and strategic. Leaders execute on their strategy. They embrace curiosity given the continued pace of change and the need to see the world from the customer’s viewpoint. Curiosity fosters innovation. It requires courage, because innovation is difficult and sometimes results in failure. Learning from failure, however, can create success.
Leaders keep the “pedal to the metal” by staying focused on priorities and initiatives that enable the strategy, including resources and funding. Even leaders might be tempted, in an uncertain economy, to overreact by cutting back budgets, reducing technology investments and pulling back on innovation. Recent history has proven that would be a big mistake. The dot-com crash in 200-2001 and the financial crisis of 2007-2008 proved this strategy to be short-sighted.
Those that continued forward and even increased investments in the face of those major market challenges leapfrogged the competition and were better prepared to respond to the emergence of insurtech competitors and the COVID pandemic that accelerated digital expectations!
While we don’t know what major disruption is next, we do know that we must be prepared, and putting the pedal to the metal focused on operational and strategic transformation and innovation will make the difference!