Just a decade ago, “insurance” and “innovation” seemed mutually exclusive. Insurance products and the business overall hadn’t changed much over the previous century and the likelihood of insurers – which, by their very nature, are risk-averse – changing anytime soon seemed unlikely to many both inside and outside the industry.
However, over the past decade, there have been dramatic changes in the world that insurers cover and in the data and technology available to them. The result is that insurance companies have opportunities to explore new revenue models and improve profitability in ways that did not exist even just a few years ago.
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The most prominent changes and their effects on revenue models include:
1. Consumers, social media, and data – The ability to connect, communicate with and observe insureds and potential insureds in real time or near real time has opened up new possibilities for insurers to understand their customers’ needs, pain points and desires. Many carriers have started to rethink their customer experience so they can “listen” directly to their customers instead of being solely reliant on their distribution channels.
- Revenue model implications –Insurers are using technology and data tools to explore opportunities to provide complementary products and services to insureds. These tools enhance carriers’ understanding of customer needs and enable them to address these needs seamlessly via direct and indirect channels.
- Profitability implications – Insurers are rethinking their business processes and customer journeys to identify “leakage areas” and “moments of truth” when profits are hurt by 1) frustrated customers choosing to leave or 2) missed opportunities to expose customers to products and services that meet their needs.
2. Insurtech – While the fintech boom has subsided somewhat elsewhere in financial services, insurtech is still growing. Traditionally, one of the biggest hindrances to many insurers in getting new products or new product enhancements to market was their own technology and data environment, and the belief that they alone had to build any new technology from scratch. However, the rapid rate of technological change and insurtech capabilities has led many carriers to look externally to enhance their capabilities and test new products and delivery models for their products. This underlies the promise that insurtech offers for established players – in fact, we think the opportunities that insurtech presents outweigh the threats many incumbents perceive.
- Revenue model implications – Insurers are increasing their investments in, partnerships with and acquisitions of insurtech companies to more quickly bring new products and services to market, especially ones that better match pricing to a more accurate understanding of the risk or actual use of the insurance (including on-demand and usage-based insurance models).
- Profitability implications – As a result of technological disruption, insurers are rethinking their value-chains and leveraging insurtech and other technology systems to improve operational areas that have historically been inefficient in terms of cost, time and use of human capital.
3. Internet of Things (IoT) – Although IoT technically is part of nsurtech, the impact of device networking is creating unique risk management – even risk avoidance – opportunities for insurers. From commercial and personal line P&C to life/health and group, IoT opens up opportunities for carriers to move from simply computing the probability of risks and then reacting to them as they occur to being able to monitor potential risks and prevent their occurrence.
- Revenue model implications – Insurers are exploring how IoT can open up product and service opportunities. In the P&C space, insurers have the option of partnering with IoT companies to provide IoT solutions as part of their product offering in both B-to-B and B-to C. In life/health and group, we expect insurers to continue to test how devices can reinforce healthy lifestyles and open up opportunities for insurers to make life and health truly about “life and health” and not just death and sickness.
- Profitability implications – Insurers are leveraging IoT to reduce claims frequency and severity. We expect new insurance models will test and explore ways to share these benefits with the customers – for example, by using behavioral economics techniques to provide incentives and reinforce positive decision-making and lifestyle choices.
4. Bionic Advice – There is currently a lot of talk about robots and machines replacing humans. However, at least for now, the real opportunities are not in finding the “perfect algorithms” that completely automate advice. Rather, they’re in machines enhancing the effectiveness of advisers and other distribution channels. And, the insurance industry appears to be prepared; in our recent annual CEO Survey, 61% of insurance CEOs said their companies are exploring the benefits of humans and machines working together.
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Numerous studies have confirmed that customers prefer the flexibility of interacting with insurance companies via the channels of their choosing – and this still often includes human ones. The real benefit of robo-advisers and AI is that they can automate basic advice but provide immediate, detailed information specific to a given customer that an adviser then can use to inform her product and planning suggestions. In addition, robotics and AI increasingly provide insurers the opportunity to capture information and refine their understanding of and recommendations for their customers throughout the sales and customer lifecycle processes.
- Revenue model implications –Insurers are exploring bionic advice models to increase revenue by better matching products and customer needs and by creating new product bundles based on an enhanced understanding of customer segments.
- Profitability implications – Insurers have lost out on many sales opportunities over the years – not because they had disinterested customers but because they or the channel partner never really understood customer needs. Many carriers realize this and are exploring how to deploy bionic advice models to automate customer follow-up, either in real time (e.g., while talking to an adviser) or at specific intervals (e.g., annual review, life event, etc.). The goal is to help carriers be more relevant to customers and, by offering appropriate products and service bundles, increase the products per household and boost “stickiness.”
In the case of the scenarios we describe here and others that could emerge, we see some consistent patterns:
- New revenue models will result from the opportunity to leverage data, technology, social medial platforms and mobile devices that lead to the creation of new products, services and pricing strategies.
- Insurtech is not just about new products and services. Insurance companies will continue to take advantage of emerging technologies and data to enhance their internal operating models. This, in turn, will enable them to market new products and services faster and to sell and service them more efficiently.
- Insurance companies will continue to explore how to leverage peer-to-peer models and behavioral economics to drive new pricing strategies, growth and profitability.