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May 18, 2017

How to Respond to Industry Disruption

Summary:

Today, continuous innovation is as important as the traditional disciplines of underwriting, financial management, marketing and service.

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Automating risk management, rating, quoting and renewals, integrating massive disparate legacy systems and redefining age-old business models – essentially all at once – is no small task. But it offers progressive insurers great opportunities to vault past the competition

It seems as if almost overnight emerging insurance technologies have flooded the market under the rubric of insurtech. Of course, this isn’t quite how it happened. This shift in insurance, evolving over decades, has seen a rush largely due to the emergence of agile disruptors recognizing the need for digitization and automation in a market previously slow to change.

The innovations have been fast and furious, but according to a recent Celent report, Life Insurance CIO: Pressures and Priorities 2017, insurance IT departments are still relatively slow to make innovation a top priority. Only 14% of carriers pursuing innovation say it will have a significant impact on IT spending. Some 71% report a moderate impact, and 14% say none at all.

Nevertheless, as disruptive forces increase, traditional insurers will have to respond.

See also: Preparing for Future Disruption…

Take peer-to-peer insurance. This new model first appeared in 2010 when a German company, Friendsurance, decided to offer products that promote transparency. Its pricing reflects the number of claims recently submitted.

Consider Lemonade—the insurance outfit, not the drink. It offers personal insurance to New Yorkers, boasting, “Maya, our charming artificial intelligence bot will craft the perfect insurance for you. It couldn’t be easier, or faster.” There’s even a charitable angle: “We take a flat fee, pay claims super-fast and give back what’s left to causes you care about.”

New approaches such as Friendsurance and Lemonade are creating customer-centric models that could garner attention from consumers and may have the potential to change insurance dramatically.

Driverless cars, enabled by Internet of Things technology such as sensors, will affect the way cars are insured. Google and Uber are already investing in fleets of self-driving vehicles, but, with few on the road as of yet, the extent to which safety has improved hasn’t been determined.

But it is clear is that claims previously resulting from human error would likely no longer apply. The car manufacturer, not the driver, would be liable. If this happens, drivers can expect lower insurance premiums but may see higher prices or built-in fees for autonomous cars to reflect the transfer of risk from the driver to the manufacturer.

Digital business tools such as electronic signatures are already having a big impact. The technology allows for the creation and transfer of secure signatures over networks via computers, tablets and smartphones. It can support completing an application or policy in one transaction.

E-signatures improve workflow for the broker as well as the customer’s experience. Now brokers and customers can finalize transactions from anywhere at their convenience and eliminate the manual tasks of printing, scanning, faxing and emailing documents. Electronic signatures also help reduce risk by providing audit trails and ensuring all documents that necessitate a signature are in order. Benefits include lower costs, fewer errors and more streamlined processes. Regulations in some states limit the use of e-signatures, however.

See also: Which to Choose: Innovation, Disruption?  

These innovations are creating entirely new ways for insurance providers to reach and retain customers, and it’s only just beginning. Today, continuous innovation is just as important for insurers as the traditional disciplines of underwriting, financial management, marketing and customer service.

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About the Author

Mike de Waal is president and founder of Global IQX (www.globaliqx.com), a leading software provider of web-based sales and service solutions to employee benefits insurers.

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