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Insurers: the New Venture Capitalists

Property and casualty insurers are as rich as Croesus, awash in capital and having a tough time figuring out where to put it. They can certainly invest (and largely do) in the equity and bond markets, but the paltry returns give deep pause for additional consideration. So a few insurers are stashing at least some of their cash in a venture capital fund.

As cash piles grow bigger, property/casualty insurers that have had limited success in launching new technologies to support their businesses are now choosing to buy rather than build. Over the last two years, roughly a half-dozen property/casualty insurers have formed venture capital funds, among them AXA, XL Catlin and American Family. Not only do these funds present the possibility of big winnings by betting on an investment in a unique start-up venture, these same ventures may be of use to the companies in their underwriting, claims management and sales and marketing strategies.

The industry has long been branded a technology foot-dragger, the perpetual latecomer to the digital party. Potential disintermediation by established technology players Google, Amazon and Apple is the 800-pound gorilla sitting in the boardroom. Few insurers were prepared, for instance, when Google launched Google Compare to sell automobile insurance. Even fewer imagined Zenefits, a start-up on track to displace insurance brokers in the provision of employee benefits. The company in May was valued at a staggering $4.5 billion.

Why didn’t a seasoned insurance company or brokerage invent Zenefits, which allows small and mid-size businesses to manage employee benefits in a very simple way? Chalk it up to a pronounced lack of leadership and intellectual capital-visionaries and software architects with real technology chops.

Insurers simply have not grown their workforces to spawn the technology leadership of a Steve Jobs, much less the programming savvy of a Steve Wozniak (Apple’s founders, of course). While many carriers are just now beginning to create digital ecosystems, they’d like to goose the process. That’s where the venture capitalists come into the picture.

“We’ve been investing a lot of time and money in process improvements and digital technologies, but the truth is we weren’t doing particularly well in getting access to new and innovative ideas in the insurance and technology spaces,” conceded Manish Agarwal, general partner of AXA Strategic Ventures, a venture capital fund launched by AXA in February 2015. “We weren’t seeing the ideas that could be game-changers.”

Other carrier venture capitalists were set up for the same reasons. “Not all the innovation happens inside our company or inside our industry,” said Dan Reed, managing director of American Family Ventures, the venture capital fund formed by American Family Insurance in 2013. “A lot of brilliant stuff happens outside the marketplace.”

Just the stuff these carriers are looking for, too. Their venture capitalists are investing millions of dollars to buy small stakes in a stellar array of extremely innovative businesses, most of them creators of novel digital technologies that may be useful to the funds’ parent companies in future.

“We’re looking to fund or create ventures that can significantly improve the cost or the effectiveness of insurance,” said Tom Hutton, managing partner at XL Innovate, the venture capital initiative launched by XL Catlin in April 2015. “These include new models for providing, distributing and capitalizing insurance.”

As the old refrain goes, “If you can’t build it, buy it.” Besides, why should the venture capitalists at big firms like Andreessen Horowitz have all the fun and make all the money?

You Gotta Put It Somewhere

Property/casualty insurers may well be smart in their decisions to launch venture capital funds to invest in myriad tech and other startups. The challenge for the industry in recent years has been where best to invest its massive cash hoard, built up from years of low losses, particularly on the property-catastrophe side of the house.

Meanwhile, the pile is growing, according to a study by BlackRock last month (October 2015). With all this excess money lying around, the asset management firm believes that insurers are experiencing trouble determining where to invest it. That’s causing more than a few insurers to simply sit on the cash, sticking it under the mattress like Grandma used to do.

Certainly, every insurer would like to buy more high-quality bonds, but there aren’t enough to go around. Consequently, 40 of the insurer respondents to BlackRock’s study plan to use derivatives to gain exposures to assets they’d like to buy but can’t. Others are turning to alternative assets with longer-term yields matching their liabilities, such as infrastructure debt.

Then there are those placing their bets on a tech start-up becoming the next Uber or Zenefits. Not that this is unique. “Insurers have always made investments in areas that were either directly or tangentially aligned with their business models,” said Robert Hartwig, president and chief economist at the Insurance Information Institute.

In the 19th century, insurers were heavy investors in railroads, Hartwig noted. In the post-war 20th century, they were big investors in real estate, “looking to both diversify their investments and generate an additional revenue stream off a physical asset-in this case property and buildings,” he said.

Hartwig is not surprised that insurers have formed venture capital funds to invest in technology and other start-up businesses. “The industry has record capital to invest on a global scale and is suffering like any institutional investor from low yields on traditional investments,” he explained. “It makes sense to look outside the traditional range of investments so long as they are not risking policyholder money.”

Because the sums are small relative to the insurers’ overall investment portfolios, Hartwig is not worried. “Some of them will produce strong returns, but not all of them at the same time,” he said. “Besides, these investments in technologies like next-generation [automobile] collision avoidance systems can be a hedge against current business risks.” He’s referring to the reduced automobile premium volume insurers have experienced as cars become increasingly safer and accidents fewer and less catastrophically severe.

Each of the venture capital funds has capital provided solely from its parent company. The money is earmarked to invest in start-ups or slightly older businesses with a unique product or service twist on underwriting, selling, marketing and distributing insurance, among other traditional insurance functions.

AXA Strategic Ventures, for instance, has two investment strategies: early-stage to seed money to a new company and later-stage to do the same for more established entities. AXA has allocated 200 million euros (about $290 million) to the venture capital fund for both purposes. The fund is set up in a separate general partner/limited partner structure, its returns not reflected on the parent company’s balance sheet.

Over the past year and a half, AXA Strategic Ventures has made seven investments in the U.S. (three of them made public) and 10 in Europe. Among them is PolicyGenius, creator of an online platform for consumers to review insurance coverages and research and compare quotes for term life, long-term disability, renters and even pet insurance.

“The reason we made the investment had less to do with the idea of buying something online, which is not really new or novel,” Agarwal said. “What we especially liked was the great front end they had created to engage customers. It really stands out.” (See for yourself at www.policygenius.com/.)

Another investment was in Limelight Health, designer and developer of a mobile, cloud-based technology that helps smaller companies simplify the process for providing health insurance and other benefits information to their employees. “Today this process typically involves a lot of work with an agent, with multiple paper-based quotes and a lot of faxing things back and forth,” Agarwal explained.

He said that the technology enables brokers and carrier representatives and underwriters to immediately respond to customer quote requests, compare this information and model the different benefits provisions and quotes against real-time market data (a concept that sounds similar to the Zenefits model).

American Family Ventures has invested in approximately 30 companies so far, according to Reed. They fall into three categories: companies in the data analytics space; those that make technology tools considered of use in the insurance value chain; and those that provide Internet of Things (IoT)-type connectivity, as this relates to the insurance products and services of its parent company. With regard to the latter, Reed provided the examples of autonomous vehicle technologies and the smart meters turning on our air conditioners, lamps and appliances. “These are new digital signs of risk,” he explained.

Among the investments (or “partnerships,” as Reed called them) is ImageVision, a provider of visual search and analytics tools leveraging machine-learning technology, and SNUPI Technologies, a sensor and services company focused on home safety and security. “Its customers use a wireless device that alerts them when a hazardous event occurs in their home,” Reed said.

XL Innovate is investing in businesses identified as offering new underwriting opportunities, such as New Energy Risk, a provider of data analytics and performance warranty products. The eight-month-old venture capital fund is in the midst of acquiring a cyber analytics company, whose name Hutton was not at liberty to divulge. “We’re also in early talks about an investment in a property data company,” he said.

Several life insurers have recently formed venture capital funds, among them Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance. Many of the same reasons apply. “A lot of amazing innovation occurs outside the industry in the entrepreneurial community, and when there is equity ownership in these companies this tends to spur innovations faster,” said Eric Emmons, managing director of MassMutual Ventures. “By partnering with these companies, it keeps senior management aware of what is coming down the road.”

Small Steps, Big Gains—Maybe

Other insurance companies, like the Hartford and Transamerica, also have venture capital units but were unable to provide comments by press time. In all cases, the parent insurers are not dabbling-there’s plenty of cash going into these activities, albeit nothing along the lines of Sequoia Capital, the Silicon Valley giant that has invested in start-ups that command more than $1.4 trillion in combined stock value today. (Source: “Inside Sequoia Capital: Silicon Valley’s Innovation Factory,” Forbes.com, March 26, 2014)

Still, the nearly $300 million invested in AXA Strategic Ventures and the reported $50 million invested in American Family Ventures isn’t chump change. Neither are the sizes of their investments, with American Family Ventures typically investing between $100,000 and $2 million in early-stage companies. “We generally receive 5% to 10% [of equity] in return,” Reed said.

Down the line, maybe one of these funds will become the equivalent of the next Uber, not to mention Google Compare or Zenefits. Not only would this be great for the insurers’ investment income, but it may also help differentiate their value propositions, products, services and operations.

Besides, it would be a heck of a lot of fun. Who says insurance companies are stodgy? Not the folks running their venture capital units.

This article was originally published by Carrier Management.

Venture Capital and Tech Start-ups

Unicorns – to some they are just mythical creatures of lore. To today’s tech world, a unicorn is a pre-IPO tech start-up with a billion-dollar market value. These are the companies driving innovation, technology and disruption in every corner of every business, and their impact is truly being felt across the insurance industry.

The number of unicorns is as elusive as the creatures themselves, as the herd is growing rapidly.

“Fortune counts more than 80 unicorns today, but more appear with each passing week. Some even received their horns, so to speak, as the magazine went to press. And they’re getting bigger — there are now at least eight ‘decacorns,’ unicorns valued at $10 billion or more. So much for being mythical.” — Fortune

Recognizing the powerful sway that unicorns have over new technologies, business models and more, insurers are now getting into the unicorn game themselves. They are identifying technology start-ups that can transform insurance and are becoming venture capitalists to tap into this great potential for creating the next generation of insurance.

Different models and approaches are being used to identify, assess and influence these companies’ offerings. By understanding the benefits of outside-in thinking, insurers are finding ways to leverage these innovations. Some insurers are partnering with leading technology firms. Some of the large insurers are setting up their own venture capital firms. Still others are creating consortia to fund new start-ups to help accelerate innovation.

Insurers and Unicorns

The following are a few examples of new partnerships in 2015; the trend is continuing;

AXA– In February 2015, AXA announced the launch of AXA Strategic Ventures, a €200M fund to boost technology start-ups focused on customer acquisition, climate change, travel insurance and more. The goal is to advance AXA’s digital and customer strategy by connecting with new technologies, new solutions,and new ways of thinking. The company anticipates the fund will complement AXA’s major operating investments, across all entities, into research and digital developments that will help transform how customers experience AXA.

XL Insurance – On April 1, 2015, XL Insurance announced the formation of a venture capital fund, XL Innovate, to support insurance technology start-ups, with a focus on developing new capabilities in the insurance sector. XL indicated that this effort would extend its capabilities in existing markets and give it new opportunities to address some of the most pressing and complex risk problems in the global economy. In addition, XL sees it as a critical element to driving focus on innovation forward while securing relevance in the future.

Global Insurance Accelerator – In February 2015, a group of seven Iowa-based insurers announced the formation and launch of the Global Insurance Accelerator (GIA), an insurance accelerator for start-ups. The start-ups receive $40,000 in seed money from the pool to create a minimum viable product to present to the Global Insurance Symposium. The insurers involved believe that the accelerator program will bring potential innovation and technology insights to the insurance industry.

The Future

Innovation, technology and the need to be future-ready are fueling today’s unicorns and their capital supporters rapidly expanding the herd. In turn, these new business models and market leaders are spawning challenges and opportunities for all companies.

Today’s forward-thinking insurance companies are running their businesses while simultaneously creating their futures as Next-Gen insurers. It’s critical to recognize the power and benefits of innovation and the role that unicorns play in planning for tomorrow.

This is a decisive time as Next-Gen insurers emerge along with their unicorns to disrupt and redefine insurance and competitive advantage. What is your company’s approach to leverage and experiment with emerging technologies, start-ups and unicorns to fuel the potential and enable future market leadership?

‘Interactive Finance’: Meshing with Google

The insurance industry is poised to enhance its power, burnish its prestige and increase its income in the 21st century by developing interactive finance to mesh with Internet enterprises. By interactive finance, I mean rewarding institutions and individuals with financial or strategic advantage for revealing information that details risk.

Insurance industry success requires recognizing information as this century’s distinct commodity, analogous to steam in the 19th and oil in the 20th. Information also needs to be seen as an indispensable element in fresh, emerging digital currencies.

Information technologies are adequately mature, and mobile and broadband communications networks sufficiently widespread, that digital currencies like Bitcoin are beginning to emerge. Cognitive computing, big data, parallelization, search, capture, curation, storage, sharing, transfer, analysis and visualization are commonplace; three-quarters of American households enjoy broadband access; and nine in 10 Americans carry mobile telephones. User-generated information now is everywhere.

Insurance industry leaders would be wise to cultivate interactive finance. It could be used to manage institutional investments with less risk and more liquidity. Interactive finance could also be used with retail consumers to create experiences, incentives and products to help manage what promises to be massive, new wealth.

A key part of interactive finance — navigating crowds and matching parties — is up and running. For instance, with Airbnb and accommodation or Uber and ride sharing, individuals reveal information voluntarily to enable counter party matching. Both are emerging as phenomenally successful simply by using information in new ways to create efficient markets.

The glimmerings of these potential gold mines are now eliciting insightful commentaries about how insurers might aggregate and parse information gathered through “crowd-sourcing.” Sharing portions of the reward with institutions and individuals through protected communications channels — also known as interactive finance — will provide the broad avenues and fastest expressways to 21st century wealth among insurers.

In two, insightful articles published here on ITL, Denise Garth discerns the key value of information. “Consider the explosion of new data that will be available and valuable in understanding the customers better so as to personalize their experience, provide insights, uncover new needs and identify new products and services that they may be unaware of,” she observes of the strategic alliance betweenFacebook and AXA. “For insurers, the coming years promise unparalleled opportunity to increase their value to their customers. Those that are best able to capitalize on the key technology influencers will reap the most in rewards,” Garth notes in an earlier article on Google.

Indeed, Facebook is poised to offer a money-transfer service in Europe. Pending regulatory approval in Ireland, Facebook would be permitted to employ user deposits in fiat currencies to become a payment services powerhouse with what seems tantalizingly close to a virtual currency. “Authorization from the central bank to become an ‘e-money’ institution would allow Facebook to issue units of stored monetary value that represent a claim against the company,” the Irish Times reported.

The company will use its acquisition of WhatsApp for access and traffic and will build on its 30% participation in revenue with Candy Crush Saga and Farmville games. Facebook will also take advantage of “‘passporting,’ which allows digital payments to be used across EU member states without having to gain regulatory approval from each one,” according to a news report.

Should Facebook succeed, AXA’s partnership with Facebook would put it well ahead of its competition in employing mobile markets to acquire and retain clients.

In an article on ITL on how Amazon could get into insurance, Sathyanarayanan Sethuraman enumerates “the convenience of on-demand buying. . . personalization of product and service delivery.” Crucially, he notes the importance of “building trust through transparency in pricing,” which provides impelling “reasons for insurers and Amazon to create a distribution model to match ever-evolving customer demands.”

Brian Cohen indicates in a thoughtful commentary on ITL that companies can collect customer feedback that is volunteered on social media and can also use new channels to provide new types of information. For instance, he says that, when inclement weather approaches, agents can caution readers to secure objects that may cause damage to their property, as a means toward generating webpage traffic and strengthening client relationships.

Joseph Sebbag cautions that technological mismatches can threaten insurance industry value. “Insurers’ numerous intricate reinsurance contracts and special pool arrangements, countless policies and arrays of transactions create a massive risk of having unintended exposure,” he notes in an intriguing essay evaluating information technology and reinsurance.

Focusing on a company with which I am very familiar, former Comptroller General David Walker says Marketcore has transformative IP in interactive finance that could provide pathways to phenomenal growth for the insurance industry and, in general, finance. The mechanism is incentives for “truth, transparency and transformation” that will make risk vehicles and markets perform more efficiently and reliably. (Walker is honorary chairman of Marketcore; I am an adviser.)

Marketcore generates liquidity by rewarding individuals and institutions for sharing information, such as the history of individual loans being bundled into residential mortgage-backed securities. The reward could be a financial advantage, say a discount on the next interval of a policy for individuals purchasing retail products. The reward could also be a strategic advantage, say foreknowledge of risk exposure for institutions dealing in structured risks like residential mortgage-backed securities or bonds, contracts, insurance policies, lines of credit, loans or securities.

Through interactive finance, Marketcore creates efficient markets for insurers and reinsurers. All do well as each does good. Risk determination permits insureds, brokers and carriers to update risks through “a transparency index. . . based. . . on the quality and quantity of the risk data records.” Component analysis of pooled securities facilitates drilling down in structured risk vehicles so insurers and reinsurers can address complex reinsurance contracts and special pool arrangements with foreknowledge of risk. Real time revaluation of contracts clarifies “the risk factors and valuation of [an] instrument” and, in so doing, “increases liquidity and tracks risks’ associated values even as derivative instruments are created.”

These interactive finance capabilities are at tipping points for insurers and reinsurers, as outlined so thoughtfully by Garth, Sethuraman and Cohen.

As those thought leaders say, large Internet enterprises like Google, Amazon and Facebook are striving for market reach and domination. Because of distributed wire line and wireless networks and the Internet, experts project that global trade will grow to $45 trillion from $6.5 trillion in less than 10 years. Global mobile transactions are projected to show more than 33% average annual growth, with 450 million users in a $720 billion market by 2017.

Only if Amazon, Facebook and Google offer new services can they exert market power in global electronic commerce analogous to late 19th century railroads, energy and steel industries. Each of them needs services like insurance no less than railroads required passengers and freight; than coal and oil required factories, homes, offices and motor vehicles; than steel required cities, railroads, trollies and cars. These Internet enterprises must have insurance, among other services associated with their brands, to remain dominant. All seek to create voluntary, de facto, walled gardens for their brands, and what better way to do so than to get users to rely on their brands to manage risks and pay bills?

None of these Internet search-and-connect giants can recoup its investments in mobile applications, drones and data centers unless it has voluminous, recurrent transactions and traffic engaging its mobile capabilities. For instance, Derek Thompson reports that the iPhone drives 60% of Apple revenue and that mobile advertising accounts for 60% of Facebook advertising revenue. John Greathousespells out the implications for advertising in a thoughtful essay on conversion rates and mobile formats. A service like insurance brings in users and encourages stickiness. In this way, insurance is the correlative to apps, drones and data centers. All these Internet giants are less without it.

Similarly, consumers and institutions are keen to participate in the value that they create with their participation in information technology and communications networks. Citizens and consumers, while resenting unremitting spying, shrug off the constant sale of metrics about their data to advertisers as inescapable and would love to turn tables on all these massive, intrusive public- and private-sector forces. People would willingly patronize a firm rewarding them for revealing risk information that they are comfortable sharing.

By rewarding institutions and individuals with financial or strategic advantage for voluntarily revealing risk-detailing information, interactive finance expressly rewards users for what they forego voluntarily with daily Internet use.

At this stage, the Internet firms have first-mover advantage when it comes to gathering and using people’s information. When I recently watched streaming video of Masterpiece Theatre’s “Mr. Selfridge,” there was the anomalous propinquity of an advertisement for an Internet tire seller in the bottom right portion of my display – within a day or so of my searching Google for motor vehicle tires. Clearly, Google, Internet ad placers and, in my case, the tire vendor are selling and purchasing access to user experiences. The sole party excluded from the value chain is the person who creates value in the information.

Earlier loyalty programs prefigure some of the notions of interactive finance. In mid-20th century America, supermarkets, gasoline stations and retailers often rewarded customer loyalty with S&H Green Stamps. Airlines, grocery chains and hotels employ loyalty programs and provide reward cards to provide incentives for recurrent patronage. In keeping with the times, Bellycard supports customer retention with a scannable card and mobile application. Each time I buy Italian bread and scan the card at the local bakery, I earn points toward a pastry.

What of insurance brokers, who reward consumers with incentives on forthcoming purchases for revealing risk information that they are comfortable sharing? Or insurer carriers, which protect asset values and boost shareholder confidence through enhanced capacities for risk detection and real-time valuation of risk exposures?

From here on out, the emphasis needs to be on rewarding customers and institutions by enabling them to create wealth with the information they are willing to reveal and by commanding information as a commodity and as the cornerstone component of emerging digital currencies. Insurers that can tap Internet industry demands for users, provide rewards for information and equip themselves to manage their risks more effectively can position themselves to dominate their sector well into the second quarter of the 21st century.

“Insurance is above all a relationship,” remarks Elise Manzi, account manager with Biddle & Company Insurance Brokers, based in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. “We’re devoted to continuing to provide our clients with the exceptional services they have come to expect of us through these new communications capabilities. Interactive finance sounds like a great relationship builder.”

Ernest Tedesco, head of Philadelphia-based Webesco, says, “For brokers, web services support client retention and communication. For large retail carriers like Progressive and Geico, web services enable them to reach consumers directly with service and product offerings. Anything kludgy on one of these sites will send customers scurrying to competitors.” He adds that if Google and other Internet giants get into the retail insurance space, current industry leaders need to be ready to respond aggressively with technology or will be disintermediated. “Back-office executives managing trillions in risk will find themselves at competitive disadvantage without real-time and near-real-time risk detection, which web services visualize.”

By meshing with Internet industry firms on interactive finance terms, the insurance industry will have all the strength of the Internet yet sustain more discretion to manage institutional and customer experiences on terms much more favorable than those that musicians and publishers experience with Apple.

As Erik Brynjolffson and Andrew McAfee point out in The Second Machine Age, digitization both spawns vast new bounty and stimulates an increasingly drastic spread between the small fraction of winners and everyone else.

How better to build crowds and grow volumes than to provide incentives to customers by rewarding them for sharing information they are willing to reveal and to serve institutional clients with foreknowledge of oncoming risks to sustain competitive advantage and protect liquidity.

It is as straightforward as that.

For my part, I am optimistic about Marketcore because its IP enables insurance industry adopters to organize, channel and reward rich, diverse crowds of capital accumulation through interactive finance. Large, incumbent Internet firms like Amazon, Facebook and Google may still prosper from first-mover advantages based, in part, on recognition that information is the distinct commodity of the 21stcentury. But each and all now must offer more to maximize return on investments in capital-intensive operations. And that’s where any insurers, deploying Marketcore IP as sword and shield, stand most to gain for themselves and the people and institutions whose trust they hold.


Facebook-Axa: Reimagining Insurance

What a stunner and brilliant outside-in move by AXA – to position itself as a dominant digital insurance company by partnering with Facebook! You baseball fans will know the phrase, “the shot heard 'round the world,” which was said about the game-winning home run by a New York Giants player against the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951 to win the National League pennant. Just like that home run, this shot is a game-changer for insurance, propelling AXA ahead of the competition and redefining the customer experience.

AXA and Facebook plan to leverage the scale of both businesses via ground-breaking innovation and access to research, training and capabilities, particularly on mobile. The power partnership of the world’s top insurer and the dominant social media company has the potential to completely innovate, transform and redefine AXA’s customer experience, customer engagement, digital presence and growth potential to levels not yet seen in insurance.

AXA’s game-changer move has the potential to establish a new bar for customer excellence, loyalty and engagement that many insurers talk about, but that few have actually taken the bold actions to make happen. This move goes well beyond having a presence on social media, to embracing the power of a social media platform as the foundation of a new customer engagement model.

What is it that makes this so fascinating and game-changing?

Facebook’s mission to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected – by building a network of more than 1.23 billion (and growing) monthly active users. The influence and pervasiveness of Facebook's platform continues to grow. It is used by 57% of all American adults – and 50% of those adult users have more than 200 friends in their networks, according to the Pew Research Center.

Facebook started 10 years ago on a U.S. college campus, and it expanded across all demographics around the world, creating a powerful network of relationships that influences decisions, other relationships and outcomes. We all have seen or experienced Facebook’s power from making possible the most basic of connections with childhood friends and family to its expansion across the U.S. and the world. Beyond its original purpose of social connection, the platform has grown to have the power to save lives, influence buying behaviors and customer loyalty and motivate social and political change. And it gets more impressive.

In announcing 2013 fourth-quarter financial results, Facebook reported even more milestones that highlight the potential for AXA to turn the insurance model on its head. Consider these:

  • On a daily basis, 757 million people were active users as of December 2013, representing an increase of 22% from the previous year. Even more astounding was that 556 million people were mobile active daily users, an increase of 49% over the previous year.
  • Most impressive was a monthly average of mobile users totaling 945 million, an increase of 39%, and representing nearly 76% of the base.

Facebook’s vision, reflected in its milestones and influence, emphasizes why this partnership opens up a whole new model of customer engagement for insurance:

  • It can create a modern customer experience, like the ones people have every day with companies like Facebook, Amazon or Zappos, where there is a new level of engagement beyond the three common areas of quote and buy, bill payment and claims – the things that are not necessarily delightful! Imagine a new experience where the customer is getting more value through new services, offerings and knowledge sharing with an insurer that is offering a more omnipresent relationship.
  • Customer loyalty – and our typical manner of measuring this through a net promoter score (NPS) – is transformed through a branded customer network of relationships that share experiences, recommendations, costs, product ideas and much more.
  • Imagine leveraging the Facebook platform as a means of managing the customers' portfolios of assets, products and policies, offering life and P&C product recommendations based on their life stage or activities, or helping them during a claim or catastrophic event. Customers can also use mobile technologies in a self-service manner to find assistance with claims or to access information to help protect themselves and their assets.
  • Consider the explosion of new data that will be available and valuable in understanding the customers better so as to personalize their experience, provide insights, uncover new needs and identify new products and services that they may be unaware of.

Most insurers today are using Facebook, mobile and data to just do the same things differently within their operations. This powerful partnership that is leveraging next-gen technologies has the potential to do completely different things– going well beyond what has already been done today, creating a digital strategy and experience that will reinvent AXA and, subsequently, the insurance industry.

Game on! What will your next move be?