November 29, 2017
How Sharing Economy Can Fuel Growth
by Denise Garth
How will a radically shifting market, where borrowing and lending are more prevalent, open doors for commercial and specialty insurers?
In our last blog of our two-part series on the gig and the sharing economy, we looked closely at how the gig or “on-demand” economy will open up new markets to group and commercial insurers. You can read that blog here.
In today’s blog, we look at the sharing half of the gig and sharing economy. How will a radically shifting market, where borrowing and lending are more prevalent, open doors for commercial and specialty insurers? More importantly, how can insurers fuel the growth of this market by making borrowing and lending more palatable?
Is the Sharing Economy real?
The sharing economy is not only real — it has enormous potential for insurers. RVs make a great example. Recreational vehicle owners use their RVs an average of 28 days per year. With 8.9 million U.S. households owning an RV, that’s nearly 2.9 billion unused RV days per year. RVs are remarkably underutilized, making them a prime market for sharing. RV sharing sites, such as Outdoorsy, help owners to profit from their RV, while helping non-owners to gain access to RV use.
Multiply this idea many times over. ATVs are underused. Boats, chainsaws and generators are underused. Cars, homes, cabins, campsites, hunting property, musical instruments, bicycles, hockey rinks and electronics are all commonly underused. The only thing standing in the way of sharing them all is… insurance to cover a new type of risk.
See also: Opportunities in the Sharing Economy
While some personal lines insurers are making a case for insuring some of these risks by adapting their personal lines products, it is commercial insurers that may have a leg up when it comes to understanding how to price risk for niche risks or groups and how to offer innovative products to these “small – medium” business owners.
Majesco’s forthcoming consumer research report finds that the consumption of ridesharing and home- and room-sharing services has a strong and growing appeal. The year-on-year growth of these activities was between 5% and 15% depending on the activity, highlighting a growing interest and use across all generations due to the digitally enabled capabilities driving ease of use. (For a further look at sharing economy trends, read Changing Insurance for the Digital Age, a collaboration between Majesco and Global Futures & Foresight.)
Experience is a factor
The sharing economy is related to the experience economy. As millennials enter the middle class, they are owning less “stuff” and putting more emphasis on having greater experiences. The sharing economy is fostering their desire to do more by owning less. With less of their income tied up in ownership and maintenance, they have more to spend on borrowing and renting. They are concerned about risk, but they don’t want a confusing transaction to sit in the way between them and the experience. So, insurers must find ways to build simple insurance experiences into the front end of the overall experience, or hide purchase experiences within the usage itself.
Insurance is the answer to some of the sharing economy’s most pressing issues.
Before “sharing economy” was even a term, sharing was at the heart of insurance. So, it would make sense that insurance would fit well into the sharing economy. Insurance, however, has had a product focus, reflected in the organizational silos based on risks and products, by separating personal versus commercial, rather than a customer focus that shifts between different risks (i.e. personal vs. commercial) based on the behaviors or use.
This is why sharing economy insurance incumbents may find themselves disrupted by Slice, Cover Genius and Metromile and similar entities that are popping up everywhere. Optimistically, however, the sharing economy is igniting an insurance renaissance with traditional insurers like Geico, Admiral, AXA and others asking themselves how they can serve people in the on-demand sharing economy … both personally and as a “business.”
In the sharing economy, it’s all about protection for the shorter timeframes and meeting the uncommon, on-demand need … allowing the customer to fluidly switch back and forth from personal to “commercial” needs. And, it’s all about giving owners and businesses incentives to lend property or assets. Insurance can answer these issues.
Insurance will fuel the sharing economy if insurers can build compelling value propositions
Rental companies are familiar with the risk of lending. They understand what is at stake, and they price insurance into their products or create contracts to handle damage. A new round of entrepreneurs is arising, however, who are using technology to match peer-to-peer lending. Websites such as MyTurn are enabling anyone to launch asset-sharing organizations. These types of companies are unfamiliar with how insurance can offer them protection and how coverage should be handled for a broader segment of products and users. This is an area where insurers can fill a growing gap.
The insurance value proposition in the sharing economy is to make both the lender and the borrower comfortable that the transaction can occur without the threat of loss. All that remains for insurers, then, is to determine where sharing is creating insurance gaps and how they can build, sell and service sharing products.
Data is critical
Consider how data is currently used in underwriting most products. For the most part, insurers pull from traditional data sources for underwriting purposes, and, though they may have reduced underwriting time, it is rarely real-time data. The sharing economy is different. It will require hyper-short underwriting loops based on real-time data because many aspects of sharing happen quickly and in a non-uniform pattern. The whole concept of on-demand insurance assumes the flip of a switch between being uninsured and insured.
On-demand insurance products should have the capability to score based on evidence analyzed from many reliable sources. Sharing economy insurers may want at least some scoring related to social profiles and common pastimes and behaviors. These aren’t easy data points to collect, but the further down the road on-demand insurance progresses, the greater the demand will be for every type of character-based data.
Cloud platforms are necessary
In essence, sharing economy insurance requires on-demand micro duration insurance coverage and blurs the boundaries between personal and commercial insurance. But insurers face challenges including: creating a micro-duration insurance business model; real-time pricing determination based on micro-segmentation and varied factors; mobile-first user experience; low transaction value but high transaction volume; and low-touch, end-to-end operations.
See also: 4 Mandates for Agents in Sharing Economy
To support these new coverages requires a next-generation core platform that is a complete architecture redesign with an alchemy of data, analytics, digital and processing components; customer-journey-focused solutions; significant reliance on AI for pricing and underwriting; and a light footprint and auto-scale capabilities for high volume support on cloud. Furthermore, there has to be a strong “find and bind” integration architecture to tap into an ecosystem of innovative services. As we highlighted in our Cloud Business Platform: The Path to Digital Insurance 2.0 thought leadership report, many of the new insurers providing these innovative products have such core platforms in the cloud to allow them agility, speed and innovation in a continuously changing market.
Agility is (no surprise) highly necessary
For insurers to grab the opportunities as they arise, they will need to understand what new technologies can do to facilitate sharing relationships. They will need to use a next-generation core platform that is scalable and allows for real-time data and agile product development. Cloud platforms will lend themselves to many of the necessary features, but expert data integration and “find and bind” ecosystems will also be vital.
For a better look at growth opportunities within the sharing economy, don’t miss Majesco’s report, A New Age of Insurance: Growth Opportunity for Commercial and Specialty Insurance in a Time of Market Disruption.