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In Age of Disruption, What Is Insurance?

“Somehow we have created a monster, and it’s time to turn it on its head for our customers and think about providing some certainty of protection.” – Inga Beale, CEO, Lloyds of London

In an early-morning plenary session at this year’s InsureTech Connect in Las Vegas, Rick Chavez, partner and head of digital strategy acceleration at Oliver Wyman, described the disruption landscape in insurance succinctly: while the first phase of disruption was about digitization, the next phase will be about people. In his words, “digitization has shifted the balance of power to people,” forcing the insurance industry to radically reorient itself away from solving its own problems toward solving the problems of its customer. It’s about time.

For the 6,000-plus attendees at InsureTech Connect 2018, disruption in insurance has long been described in terms of technology. Chavez rightly urged the audience to expand its definition of disruption and instead conceive of disruption not just as a shift in technology but as a “collision of megatrends”–technological, behavioral and societal–that is reordering the world in which we live, work and operate as businesses. In this new world order, businesses and whole industries are being refashioned in ways that look entirely unfamiliar, insurance included.

This kind of disruption requires that insurance undergo far more than modernization, but a true metamorphosis, not simply shedding its skin of bureaucracy, paper applications and legacy systems but being reborn as an entirely new animal, focused on customers and digitally enabled by continuing technological transformation.

In the new age of disruption …

1. Insurance is data

“Soon each one of us will be generating millions of data sets every day – insurance can be the biggest beneficiary of that” – Vishal Gondal, GOQUii

While Amazon disrupted the way we shop, and Netflix disrupted the way we watch movies, at the end of the day (as Andy G. Simpson pointed out in his Insurance Journal recap of the conference) movies are still movies, and the dish soap, vinyl records and dog food we buy maintain their inherent properties, whether we buy them on Amazon or elsewhere. Insurance, not simply as an industry but as a product, on the other hand is being fundamentally altered by big data.

At its core, “insurance is about using statistics to price risk, which is why data, properly collected and used, can transform the core of the product,” said Daniel Schreiber, CEO of Lemonade, during his plenary session on day 2 of the conference. As copious amounts of data about each and every one of us become ever more available, insurance at the product level– at the dish soap/dog food level–is changing.

While the auto insurance industry has been ahead of the curve in its use of IoT-generated data to underwrite auto policies, some of the most exciting change happening today is in life insurance, as life products are being reconceived by a boon of health data generated by FitBits, genetic testing data, epigenetics, health gamification and other fitness apps. In a panel discussion titled “On the Bleeding Edge: At the Intersection of Life & Health,” JJ Carroll of Swiss RE discussed the imperative of figuring out how to integrate new data sources into underwriting and how doing so will lead to a paradigm shift in how life insurance is bought and sold. “Right now, we underwrite at a single point in time and treat everyone equally going forward,” she explained. With new data sources influencing underwriting, life insurance has the potential to become a dynamic product that uses health and behavior data to adjust premiums over time, personalize products and service offerings and expand coverage to traditionally riskier populations.

Vishal Gandal of GOQuii, a “personalized wellness engine” that is partnering with Max Bupa Insurance and Swiss Re to offer health coaching and health-management tools to customers, believes that integrating data like that generated by GOQuii will “open up new risk pools and provide products to people who couldn’t be covered before.” While some express concern that access to more data, especially epigenetic and genetic data, may exclude people from coverage, Carroll remains confident that it is not insurers who will benefit the most from data sharing, but customers themselves.

See also: Is Insurance Really Ripe for Disruption?  

2. Insurance is in the background

“In the future, insurance will buy itself automatically” – Jay Bergman

Some of the most standout sessions of this year’s InsureTech Connect were not from insurance companies at all, but from businesses either partnering with insurance companies or using insurance-related data to educate their customers about or sell insurance to their customers as a means of delivering more value.

Before unveiling a new car insurance portal that allows customers to monitor their car-related records and access a quote with little to no data entry, Credit Karma CEO Ken Lin began his talk with a conversation around how Credit Karma is “more than just free credit scores,” elucidating all of the additional services they have layered on top of their core product to deliver more value to their customers. Beyond simply announcing a product launch, Lin’s talk was gospel to insurance carriers, demonstrating how a company with a fairly basic core offering (free credit scores) can build a service layer on top to deepen engagement with customers. It’s a concept that touches on what was surely one of the most profound themes of the conference–that, like free credit scores, insurance only need be a small piece of a company’s larger offering. This may mean embedding insurance into the purchase of other products or services (i.e., how travel insurance is often sold) or it may mean doing what Credit Karma has done and layering on a service offering to deepen engagement with customers and make products stickier.

Assaf Wand, CEO of the home insurance company Hippo, spoke to both of these models in his discussion with David Weschler of Comcast about how their two companies are partnering to make insurance smarter and smart homes safer. When asked about what the future of insurance looks like, Wand put it plainly when he said: “Home insurance won’t be sold as insurance. It will be an embedded feature of the smart home.” Jillian Slyfield, who heads the digital economy practice at Aon, a company that is already partnering with companies like Uber and Clutch to insure the next generation of drivers, agrees: “We are embedding insurance into these products today.”

Until this vision is fully realized, companies like Hippo are doing their part to make their insurance products fade into the background as the companies offer additional services for homeowners, “Can I bring you value that you really care about?” Wand asked, “Wintering your home, raking leaves, these are the kinds of things that matter to homeowners.”

3. Insurance is first and foremost a customer experience

“The insurance industry has to redefine our processes… go in reverse, starting with the customer and re-streamlining our processes around them” – Koichi Nagasaki, Sompo

To many outside the insurance industry, the idea of good customer experience may seem unremarkable, but for an industry that has for so long been enamored by the ever-increasing complexity of its own products, redefining processes around customers is like learning a foreign language as a middle-aged adult. It’s hard, and it takes a long time, and a lot of people aren’t up to the task.

The insurance industry has been talking about the need for customer-centricity for a while now, but many companies continue to drag their feet. But customer-centricity is and remains more than a differentiator. It’s now table stakes. How this plays out for the industry will look different for different companies. Some will turn to partnerships with insurtechs and other startups to embed their products into what are already customer-centric experiences and companies. Chavez of Oliver Wyman would rather see the industry “disrupt itself,” as he believes it’s critical that companies maintain the customer relationship. In his plenary sessions, he cited the German energy company Enercity as a company that disrupted itself. Operating in a similarly regulated industry, rather than becoming just a supplier of energy, the company invested heavily in its own digital strategy to become a thought leader in the energy space, to be a trusted adviser to its customer and to deliver an exceptional digital experience that, among other things, leverages blockchain technology to accept bitcoin payments from customers. For Chavez, insurtech is already a bubble, and, “If you want to succeed and thrive in a bubble, make yourself indispensable.” The only way to do this, he believes, is to maintain ownership over the customer experience, because, in today’s digital economy, the customer experience is the product.

But to own the customer experience and succeed will require insurance companies to completely reorient their business practices and processes – to start with the customer and the experience and work backward toward capabilities. In the words of Han Wang of Paladin Cyber, who spoke on a panel about moving from selling products to selling services, “It’s always a questions of what does the customer want? How do they define the problem? And what is the solution?”

4. Insurance is trust

“The world runs on trust. When we live in a society where we have lots of trust, everyone benefits. When this trust goes away, everyone loses.” – Dan Ariely, Lemonade

During a faceoff between incumbents and insurtechs during one conference session, Dylan Bourguignon, CEO of so-sure cinched the debate with a single comment, calling out large insurance carriers: “You want to engage with customers, yet you don’t have their trust. And it’s not like you haven’t had time to earn it.” This, Bourguignon believes, is ultimately why insurtechs will beat the incumbents.

Indeed, the insurtech Lemonade spent a fair amount of stage time preaching the gospel of trust. Dan Ariely, behavioral economist and chief behavior officer at Lemonade, delivered a plenary session entirely devoted to the topic of trust. He spoke about trust from a behavioral standpoint, explaining how trust creates equilibrium in society and how, when trust is violated, the equilibrium is thrown off. Case in point: insurance.

Insurance, he explained, has violated consumer trust and has thrown off the equilibrium–the industry doesn’t trust consumers, and consumers don’t trust the industry, a vulnerability that has left the insurance industry open to the kind of disruption a company like Lemonade poses. As an industry, insurance has incentives not to do the thing it has promised to do, which is to pay out your claims. And while trust is scarcely more important in any industry as it is in insurance, save in an industry like healthcare, the insurance industry is notoriously plagued by two-way distrust.

What makes Lemonade stand out is that it has devised a system that removes the conflict of interest germane to most insurance companies – as a company, it has no incentives to not pay out customer claims. In theory, profits are entirely derived by taking a percentage of the premium; anything left over that does not go to pay out a claim is then donated to charity. The result: If customers are cheating, they aren’t cheating a company, they are cheating a charity. Ariely described several instances where customer even tried to return their claims payments after finding misplaced items they thought had been stolen. “How often does this happen in your companies?” he asked the audience. Silence.

And it’s not just new business models that will remedy the trust issues plaguing insurance. It’s new technology, too. In a panel titled “Blockchain: Building Trust in Insurance,” executives from IBM, Salesforce, Marsh and AAIS discussed how blockchain technology has the capacity to deepen trust across the industry, among customers, carriers, solutions providers and underwriters by providing what Jeff To of Salesforce calls an “immutable source of truth that is trusted among all parties.” Being able to easily access and trust data will have a trickle down effect that will affect everyone, including customers, employees and the larger business as a whole–reducing inefficiencies, increasing application and quote-to-bind speed, eliminating all the hours and money that go into data reconciliation and ultimately making it easier for carriers to deliver a quality customer experience to their customers.

See also: Disruption of Rate-Modeling Process  

While the progress in blockchain has been incremental, the conference panel demoed some promising use cases in which blockchain is already delivering results for customers, one example being acquiring proof of insurance for small businesses or contractors through Marsh’s platform. With blockchain, a process that used to span several days has been reduced to less than a minute. Experiences like these–simple, seamless and instantaneous – are laying the groundwork for carriers to begin the long road to earning back customer trust. Blockchain will likely play an integral role this process.

5. Insurance is a social good

“We need insurance. It is one of the most important products for financial security.” – Dan Ariely, Lemonade

For all of the the naysaying regarding state of the industry that took place at InsureTech Connect, there were plenty of opportunities for the industry to remind itself that it’s not all bad, and its core insurance is something that is incredibly important to the stability of people across the globe. Lemonade’s Schreiber called it a social good, while Ariely told his audience, “We need insurance. It is one of the most important products for financial security.” Similar sentiments were expressed across stages throughout the conference.

In fact, in today’s society, income disparity is at one of the highest points in recent history, stagnating wages are plaguing and diminishing the middle class, more people in the U.S. are living in poverty now than at any point since the Great Depression, the social safety net is shrinking by the minute and more than 40% of Americans don’t have enough money in savings to cover a $400 emergency, so insurance is more important than ever.

For Inga Beale, CEO of Lloyds of London, insurance has a critical role to play in society, “It goes beyond insurance–it’s about giving people money and financial independence,” she said during a fireside chat. She went on to describe findings from recent research conducted by Lloyds, which determined that, by the end of their lives, men in the U.K. are six times better off financially than women. When designed as a tool to provide financial independence and equality for everyone, insurance can play an important role in addressing this disparity. While this has been a focus in emerging markets, financial stability and independence is often assumed in more developed markets, like the U.S. and Europe. In reality, it is a problem facing all markets, and increasingly so. Ace Callwood, CEO of Painless1099, a bank account for freelancers that helps them save money for taxes, agrees that insurance has an important role to play. “It’s our job to get people to a place where they can afford to buy the products we are trying to sell,” he said.

You can find the article originally published here.

The World Is Flat; Insurance Is Round

Why Lemonade is Going Global

It’s a curious thing: Most insurance companies stop at the water’s edge. Europe’s largest insurance companies operate in dozens of countries, but most don’t offer insurance to consumers in the U.S. Same is true for those operating out of Asia Pacific and Africa.

And it cuts both ways: American consumers buy insurance from American firms, most of which don’t have any operations to speak of outside of the Land of the Free. It’s odd. The Atlantic and Pacific oceans are vast, but they can be crossed. And bits and bytes can cross them in milliseconds.

As a tech company doing insurance, we see no reason that a body of water should be an obstacle to reaching new markets and expanding beyond the 50 states. In fact, within the U.S., we’re finding that being digital has allowed us to cross the country without enlarging our physical footprint.

Consider this: California is our largest market at the moment, but our nearest employee to the Golden State is 3,000 miles away in the Empire State.

Our announcement of a $120 million Series C funding round led by SoftBank sets the stage for our global expansion.

See also: Lemonade’s Latest Chronicle  

See, to bring AI-powered insurance to Mumbai, London, Rio de Janeiro or Sydney, there’s no need to invest in thousands of people in towering skyscrapers. Like Airbnb or Spotify, our services require little more than a mobile phone and a credit card. In our largest markets, we have zero employees.

Sure, we’ll need to invest time with regulatory bodies and learn to adapt to local culture, customs and languages. But our mission is a global one, and our means to go global lie in our being a digital pure-play.

When Tom Friedman wrote about the waves of globalization and the “flattening” benefits of it in the 21st century, he declared that the world went from being small to tiny. He dubbed the change Globalization 3.0, following the previous rounds of globalization, in the 15th century and later when multinational companies emerged.

At the turn of this century, Globalization 3.0 moved the needle in such an enormous way that it’s not only a difference in size, it’s a difference in kind.

Fast forward almost two decades, and insurance powered by bots and data-driven algorithms means we can reach endless people in all corners of the globe and provide them with a similar yet customized experience, without the heavy bureaucracy and costs that discourage the traditional insurance carriers of venturing across the ocean.

Digitally enabled folks have a common denominator: They tap to get a ride, order a meal, get groceries delivered, find a soulmate… and they’d readily do the same to get insurance. We may be divided by international borders, but our connectivity is so intertwined that it has become the natural fabric that weaves us together.

It’s not only the technology that makes international prospects so enticing. We believe our mission of trust and transparency is universal, too.

Through his behavioral economics research, our Chief Behavioral Officer Dan Ariely reminds us that the way the insurance system is designed brings out the worst in us humans. Whether you’re in New York or Paris or Tokyo, that inherent conflict between insurance company and its customers brings out bad behavior from all sides. Bad behavior is rooted in the same human nature all over the world.

See also: Lemonade Really Does Have a Big Heart  

So we’re not stopping at the water’s edge. We believe that being built on AI and behavioral economics means that, at a profound level, we’re building something with universal appeal. The world is flat; it’s time insurance was, too.

4 Insurers’ Great Customer Experiences

McKinsey research has found that insurance companies with better customer experiences grow faster and more profitably. In 2016, 85% of insurers reported customer engagement and experience as a top strategic initiative for their companies. Yet the insurance industry continues to lag behind other industries when it comes to meeting customer expectations, inhibited by complicated regulatory requirements and deeply entrenched cultures of “business as usual.”

Some companies–many of them startups–are setting the gold standard when it comes to customer experience in insurance, and are paving the way for the industry’s biggest insurers to either fall in line, or risk losing out to smaller competitors with better experiences. Through a combination of new business models, clever uses of emerging technology and deep understanding of customer journeys, these four companies are leading the pack when it comes to delivering on fantastic experiences:

1. Slice – Creating insurance products for new realities.

Slice launched earlier this year and is currently operating in 13 states. The business model is based on the understanding that, in the new sharing economy, the needs of the insured have changed dramatically and that traditional homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policies don’t suffice for people using sites like AirBnB or HomeAway to rent out their homes.

According to Emily Kosick, Slice’s managing director of marketing, many home-share hosts don’t realize that, when renting out their homes, traditional insurance policies don’t cover them. When something happens, they are frustrated, angry and despondent when they realize they are not covered. Slice’s MO is to create awareness around this issue, then offer a simple solution. In doing so, Slice can establish trust with consumers while giving them something they want and need.

Slice provides home-share hosts the ability to easily purchase insurance for their property, as they need it. Policies run as little as $4 a night! The on-demand model allows hosts renting out their homes on AirBnB or elsewhere to automatically (or at the tap of a button) add an insurance policy to the rental that will cover the length of time–up to the minute–that their home is being rented. The policy is paid for once Slice receives payment from the renter, ensuring a frictionless transaction that requires very little effort on the part of the customer.

See also: Who Controls Your Customer Experience?  

Slice’s approach to insurance provides an excellent example of how insurers can strive to become more agile and develop capacities to launch unique products that rapidly respond to changes in the market and in customer behavior. Had large insurance companies that were already providing homeowners’ and renters’ insurance been more agile and customer-focused, paying attention to this need and responding rapidly with a new product, the need for companies like Slice to emerge would have never have arisen in the first place.

2. Lemonade – Practicing the golden rule.

In a recent interview, Lemonade’s Chief Behavior Officer Dan Ariely remarked that, “If you tried to create a system to bring about the worst in humans, it would look a lot like the insurance of today.”

Lemonade wants to fix the insurance industry, and in doing so has built a business model on a behavioral premise supported by scientific research: that if people feel as if they are trusted, they are more like to behave honestly. In an industry where 24% of people say it’s okay to pad an insurance claim, this premise is revolutionary.

So how does Lemonade get its customers to trust it? First, by offering low premiums–as little as $5 a month–and providing complete transparency around how those premiums are generated. Lemonade can also bind a policy for a customer in less than a minute. Furthermore, Lemonade has a policy of paying claims quickly–in as little as three seconds–a far cry from how most insurance companies operate today. When claims are not resolved immediately, they can typically be resolved easily via the company’s chatbot, Maya, or through a customer service representative. But perhaps the most significant way that Lemonade is generating trust with its customers is through its business model. Unlike other insurance companies, which keep the difference between premiums and claims for themselves, Lemonade takes any money that is not used for claims (after taking 20% of the premium for expenses and profit) is donated to a charity of the customer’s choosing. Lemonade just made its first donation of $53,174.

Lemonade’s approach to insurance is, unlike so many insurers out there, fundamentally customer-centric. But CEO Daniel Schreiber is also quick to point out that, although Lemonade donates a portion of its revenues to charities, its giveback is not about generosity, it is about business. If Lemonade has anything to teach the industry, it is this: that the golden rule of treating others as you want to be treated, holds true, even in business.

3. State Farm – Anticipating trends and investing in cutting-edge technology.

The auto insurance industry has been one of the fastest to adapt to the new customer experience landscape, being early adopters of IoT (internet of things), using telematics to pave the path toward usage-based insurance (UBI) models that we now see startups like Metromile taking advantage of. While Progressive was the first to launch a wireless telematics device, State Farm is now the leading auto insurer, its telematics device being tied to monetary rewards that give drivers financial incentives to drive more safely. The company also has a driver feedback app, which, as the name suggests, provides drivers feedback on their driving performance, with the intent of helping drivers become safer drivers, which for State  Farm, equals money.

By anticipating a trend, and understanding the importance of the connected car and IoT early on, State Farm has been able to keep pace with startups and has reserved a seat at the top–above popular auto insurers like Progressive and Geico–at least for now. If nothing else, unlike most traditional insurers, auto insurance companies like State Farm and Progressive have been paving the way for the startups when it comes to innovation, rather than the other way around. For now, this investment in customer experience is paying off. J.D Powers 2017 U.S Auto Insurance Study shows that, even as premiums increased for customers in 2017, overall customer satisfaction has skyrocketed.

4. Next Insurance – Automating for people, and for profit.

Next Insurance believes that a disconnect between the carrier and the customer is at the heart of the insurance industry’s digital transformation problem. In essence, it’s a communication problem, according to Sofya Pogreb, Next Insurance CEO. The people making decisions in insurance don’t have contact with the end customer. So while they are smart, experienced people, they are not necessarily making decisions based on the actual customer needs.

Next Insurance sells insurance policies to small-business owners, and the goal is to do something that Next believes no other insurer is doing–using AI and machine learning to create “nuanced” and “targeted” policies to meet specific needs.

An important aspect of what makes the approach unusual is that, instead of trying to replace agents altogether, Next is more interested in automating certain aspects of what agents do, to free their expertise to be put to better use:

“I would love to see agents leveraged for their expertise rather than as manual workers,” Pogreb told Insurance Business Magazine. “Today, in many cases, the agent is passing paperwork around. There are other ways to do that – let’s do that online, let’s do that in an automated way. And then where expertise is truly wanted by the customer, let’s make an agent available.”

See also: Smart Things and the Customer Experience  

While innovative business models and cutting-edge technology will both be important to the insurance industry of the future, creating fantastic customer experiences ultimately requires one thing: the ability for insurance companies–executives, agents and everyone in between–to put themselves in their customers’ shoes. It’s is a simple solution, but accomplishing it is easier said than done. For larger companies, to do so requires both cultural and structural change that can be difficult to implement on a large scale, but will be absolutely necessary to their success in the future. Paying attention to how innovative companies are already doing so is a first step; finding ways to bring about this kind of change from within is an ambitious next step but should be the aim of every insurance company looking to advance into the industry of the future.

This article first appeared on the Cake & Arrow website, here. To learn more about how you can bring about the kind of cultural and institutional change needed to deliver true value to your customers, download our recent white paper: A Step-by-Step Guide to Transforming Digital Culture and Making Your Organization Truly Customer Focused.

Lemonade: Interview With CEO

Lemonade is currently the most talked-about disruptor. That’s why we’re pleased that, for the first time in Europe, Lemonade will present at DIA Munich what the pioneering concept is all about in a keynote presentation. As a special DIA Munich appetizer, we spoke to Lemonade CEO and co-founder Daniel Schreiber recently, exactly one year after the company launched.

DIA: Daniel, congratulations on Lemonade’s first anniversary. It must have been a roller coaster ride. Thanks for being willing to share some of the experiences and learnings. Did the first year meet your expectations?

Daniel: “Yes, it has been quite a ride. But it is great to see that we’re striking the right chord. We already sold ten thousands of policies. Our portfolio doubles every 10 weeks.”

DIA: If you had to name just one thing, what would you say is the key success factor so far?

Daniel: “Our renters insurance is 80% cheaper than what competitors offer and takes less than 90 seconds to purchase.”

DIA: 80% cheaper is almost unbelievable …

Daniel: “Many industry insiders think so, too. [They think that] at least 40% of what insurance carriers receive in premiums is paid out in claims. So if Lemonade is 80% cheaper it must lose money on every policy. That is not true. Renters insurance covers personal property, not real estate. The expected loss is therefore significantly lower and so should the corresponding premium be. Unfortunately, the enormous overheads incumbents have make low-premium products impossible. Their minimum premium reflects their high costs rather than your low claims.”

See also: Lemonade’s New Push: Zero Everything  

DIA: We can imagine that such a price difference attracts a specific segment …

Daniel: “Yes, indeed. We offer a good price, especially at entry levels. No less than 87% of our customers are first-time buyers. Lemonade is the preferred insurance brand among first-time insurance buyers. In the state of New York, where we first launched Lemonade, we now have a market share of 27% among first-time buyers.”

DIA: Was this the target segment you planned to focus on initially?

Daniel: “Not really, at least not to this extent. This was definitely not planned or expected. It appears our proposition is attracting people who did not think of such an insurance before; because it was too expensive, too much hassle, or because they had little trust in the added value. So it turns out we actually opened up an underserved, untapped market. This was really a surprise for us, as well. It just shows that with really new propositions there is only so much that you can plan.”

DIA: This suggests the Lemonade concept is about solving frictions that customers experience when dealing with a traditional insurance incumbent. Aren’t you selling yourself short here?

Daniel: “True. It is not just about solving frictions; being faster, better or cheaper. That wouldn’t be sufficient in the long run. When we started conceiving Lemonade, we immediately realized there is no way you can beat insurers at their own game. We needed to think beyond that. We decided to foster trust, not suspicion. Our business model is built on two very distinctive pillars: behavioral economics and artificial intelligence.”

DIA: The pillar that is often highlighted is behavioral economics, one of the reasons we like Lemonade so much. Insurers could benefit much more from psychology and social sciences.

Daniel: “The vast knowledge and experience of our Chief Behavioral Officer Dan Ariely (professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University) is instrumental in this. We apply behavioral economics to neutralize the adversarial relationship, the conflict of interest, between customers and their insurance provider. We take 20%, and the rest (80%) goes to paying claims, and this includes our reinsurance. If less than the 80% is used to pay out claims, for instance 75%, the 5% unclaimed money is donated to charities chosen by customers. The maximum amount that can be given back is 40%. Lemonade gains nothing by refusing a claim. This way we are reinventing insurance from a necessary evil to a social good.”

DIA: Can you explain how behavioral economics reflects in Lemonade’s daily customer experience?

Daniel: “Not just our business model but also the whole product flow is informed by behavioral economics. For example, we ask people to sign on the top of the form, not at the bottom. Behavioral research shows that asking people to pledge honesty first results in forms that are actually more accurate.”

DIA: How does this affect the combined ratio?

Daniel: “Multiple ways. For example, we also apply behavioral economics to reduce fraud. In the onboarding process, customers are asked which charity they want the money that is not used for claims to go to, let’s say the Red Cross. Now, when at some point in time a customer files a claim, we first remind the customer of the charity he or she selected before diving into the claim. We do that on purpose. To many people, insurance fraud is considered a victimless crime; you’re not really hurting someone, at least that is the perception. Research shows that 24% say it’s okay to pad an insurance claim. We’re changing that by immediately creating the presence of a victim. Making it crystal clear that a claim harms a charity someone cares about inhibits misuse.”

DIA: Do you already have proof points that using behavioral economics this way works at a larger scale?

Daniel: “Obviously we’re a young company, so the amount of claims that we receive are still limited. But we already have early indications that this really works. In the last two months, we actually had six customers who claimed and got paid, but later on returned the money. Someone, for instance, thought his laptop was stolen, claimed and got paid. A few weeks later, it turned out he had left the laptop with his mother-in-law. He then decided to return the money, probably because he didn’t want to harm the charity he selected. I would really love to know how many customers of traditional insurers are returning their money.”

DIA: Insurers need to manage the feelings side of financial services much better than they do today. Quite a few tend to forget that when they are going digital. Others are building hybrid solutions of, for instance, chatbots and human experts. How do you secure the human side in a pure play such as Lemonade?

Daniel: “Behavioral economics is one pillar of our business model; artificial intelligence is the other. Thanks to AI, we don’t have to rely on brokers and paperwork. Underwriting and claims handling are taken care of by AI, as well. This makes it even more important to secure that we are recognized as living, breathing people who really care. My co-founder Shai Wininger has a rare talent to marry technology with customer understanding. Our bot has a name. It talks in an approachable manner. It doesn’t say, ‘I don’t understand.’ We know its limits and anticipate the direction in which the conversation is going. Next-level questions are seamlessly moved to our, human, support staff.”

See also: Lemonade: World’s First Live Policy  

DIA: We quite often see that traditional insurance carriers have a strong immune system when it comes to embracing insurtechs. Apparently, different cultures are difficult to match. Sometimes we even see organ rejection. We noticed that the Lemonade team not only incudes tech veterans like yourself but also former executives from AIG and ACE. How do you make that work?

Daniel: “When we started thinking about a new concept in insurance, we just had a rudimental understanding of insurance. We had the advantage of being ignorant. We had no preconceived notion. This helped us to question the basic principles of the industry, such as the conflict of interest.

“Coming from the outside helped us to rethink, reconceptualize in a fundamental way, from scratch, what Lemonade should be about.

“Now, it is only so far you can take that. As soon as you move to execution, you really need to have deeply entrenched insurance knowledge on board. Think of the regulatory maze we have to go through. Then it comes to finding the right people, which was not that easy. We soon realized that we were looking for ‘insiders’ who were ‘outsiders’ at the same time. In our recruitment ad, we actually said it was a requirement to be in the throes of a midlife crisis; not feeling happy in the corner office anymore. They had to buy into our vision.”

DIA: We noticed that your fast growth in an market segment that is so difficult to reach by incumbents has led companies such as GEICO and Liberty Mutual to use “lemonade” in their marketing and promotion activities …

Daniel: “Ha ha, yes, we’ve noticed that as well, of course. GEICO even introduced a ‘lemonade’ TV commercial at the same time as we launched the company. Liberty Mutual, in fact, introduced a new brand, Lulo, and paraphrased everything, from logo to pricing.

“We take it as a compliment that such renowned brands are looking at us, and try to learn and use our ideas. But the examples also show that it is not that easy. Lemonade is more than a logo. You really need to understand the two pillars of our model: behavioral economics and artificial intelligence and how that reflects in the way we operate. And you need to understand that we are really a different kind of company. Obviously, we have duties to our customers, employees and investors. But we’re also a B-Corp, which makes us legally committed to social impact. Our customer base is therefore more like a community of people around a cause – which in turn results in more trust and less fraud. It is about aligning customers and insurer, and giving up underwriting profits. We’re rebranding the insurance sector.”

Top 10 Changes Driven by Insurtech

With 2017 Insuretech Connect happening this week, below is one industry insider’s top 10 of the notable insurtech changes since the inaugural event this time last year:

See also: Insurtechs: 10 Super Agents, Power Brokers  

  1. Early-stage ventures are moving beyond the online/UI experience and are focused on the core industry economics — i.e. driving down the 56 cents of every premium dollar that is indemnity (loss costs), the further 12 cents needed to assess, value and pay those losses, and the circa 26 to 30 cents required to develop, distribute, select and price product.
  2. There is an increased presence of early-stage-focused VCs that have insurance chops, meaning that high-quality startups focused on more complex industry issues have smart capital for funding (there wasn’t much of that last year at this time).
  3. An extraordinary boom in insurtech investment capital means that too many businesses with little chance for success are getting funding. (How many new millennial-focused renters insurance ventures does the market actually need?)
  4. Despite the overwhelming level of capital focused on the space, valuations are generally rational. Yet, there are far too many high-profile investments that seem to make little sense, both in terms of funding levels and valuations. (I can personally attest to being recruited for two roles running pre-revenue startups that received term sheets from investors with pre-money valuations between $30 million and $40 million…exciting for the founder, but irrational in the cold light of day.)
  5. Insurance (viewed by some/many as old school and boring) is showing signs that it can lead in the commercializations of new technologies (IoT, blockchain, telematics, etc.). This can only be positive for attracting “A” talent to our industry.
  6. Lemonade has demonstrated that all of us in the industry can learn something from them. The most recent example is the zero-deductible product (and a no-rate-change protection for as many as two claims), which received unprecedented attention. While this is not new and is already offered by some, the lesson in this case is that being a marketing machine may be worth something (or Dan Ariely, the behavioral economist working with Lemonade, should be hired by us all).
  7. The intractable trend in new risk-taking capital (pensions fund, hedge funds, SWFs, etc.) is leading to “infrastructure light” risk takers — we now have some smart insurance entrepreneurs jumping in with solutions that enable this structural change.
  8. Well-established insurance vertical solution tech companies are now providing attractive exits for insurtech early-stage companies.
  9. Emergence of insurance-specific hot technologies in areas such as chatbots, machine learning and advanced analytics, etc. seems to be leading (in terms of trial by the insurance industry incumbents) the more established, industry-agnostic solutions — watch this space!
  10. The industry is all in on insurtech! Witness the presence of public company CEOs’ commentary on the topic, the abundance of CVCs, the number of corporate intra-ventures, etc. Also compare and contrast year-over-year presence at this conference.