--The companies that most effectively cope with disruption will be ones that reinvent themselves by focusing intently on the customer.
--Almost all carriers are pursuing "incremental change" and "pragmatic evolution" scenarios. But the aggressive "customer first" and "radical reinvention" scenarios are entirely possible based on already extant (albeit still maturing) technology. AI even offers the promise of moving insurance beyond restitution and risk mitigation to risk prevention.
The stability that insurers have long relied on for predictable risk pricing and consistent growth is disappearing. In the past three years alone, the world has experienced a pandemic, sometimes violent political unrest, severe supply chain disruptions, global conflict, high inflation and multiple historically extreme weather events.
STEEP factors’ enduring impacts
These short-term crises are part of longer-term trends that profoundly affect the insurance industry: social, technological, economic, environmental and political (STEEP). Their impact is only increasing. Social instability, technological disruption, demographic shifts and climate change are leading to a fractured world in which insurers have to cover a greater array and frequency of intensifying risks.
Carriers are responding to these challenges in various ways, with different business and operating models. As we briefly describe below and in more detail in our new Insurance 2030 report, while determining the best ways to grow, attract customers and operate more economically and efficiently, most insurers will exhibit various traits across a spectrum of possibilities. However, the companies that most effectively cope with disruption will be ones that reinvent themselves by focusing intently on the customer.
- Incremental change. This is the current and historic baseline scenario for most carriers. They’re adapting, usually in pockets and reactively, even though STEEP developments challenge many of their attempts to keep up. This approach risks more than commoditizing the business. Companies operating in this scenario don’t stand out to potential customers and partners.
- Pragmatic evolution. Most forward-looking companies are moving in this direction. Their progress varies depending on their priorities and investments, but they're earnestly trying to create a customer-centric business that orchestrates coverages, services and support for customers as their needs change over time.
- The customer first. A common — and still largely aspirational — goal of pragmatic evolution is restructuring business and operating models to put the customer at the forefront, facilitating genuinely personalized solutions. The ideal end game is to center product design on the customer, creating personalized, holistic insurance packages at the point of sale and removing friction by integrating service and support across offerings. In this case, the enterprise is tech-driven, and a direct result is a proliferation of effective touchpoints.
- Radical reinvention. Building directly on the customer first, the boldest carriers are determining how to create unique business and operating models that redefine the very nature of insurance, helping stakeholders avoid risk in the process. This is a long-term goal for most of the industry, stretching through the end of the decade and likely beyond.
See also: Insurance 2030: Scenario Planning
Riding the wave of change instead of drowning in it
As we’ve seen so far this century, no one can clearly predict what may happen even in the short term, but our spectrum of business and operating models in a turbulent world isn’t theoretical or far-fetched. Our incremental change and pragmatic evolution scenarios describe current reality at almost all carriers. The customer-first and radical reinvention scenarios, which depend on already extant (albeit still maturing) technology, are entirely possible. Key factors for carriers trying to wind up on that end of the spectrum include:
- True customer-centricity, which means moving beyond selling products created in-house for single transactions to orchestrating multiple coverages, services and support for customers as their needs change.
- Partnerships, ecosystems and embedded options that immediately put carriers at the point of sale and broaden their market reach.
- AI and other advanced data, which can significantly enhance risk assessment, product design, sales and marketing and improve the customer experience via answer engines, data collection, product customization and service. AI also offers the promise of moving insurance beyond restitution and risk mitigation to risk prevention.
- Creating compelling career paths that fit your current and future skills needs and appeal to ambitious workers.
- A flexible technological base and strategic IT function that will enable you to effectively implement all of the above. Cloud and related transformation aren’t an end to themselves. Instead, they facilitate internal and external integration, speed to market and IT that's a strategic driver, not just a maintenance function.
- Last but certainly not least, fully investing in and supporting your strategy.