Tag Archives: digital insurance 2.0

Update IT Systems One Slice at a Time

Every business today has legacy processes and systems and faces the dilemma on how to transform the business to adapt to the rapidly changing market dynamics that are driving the shift to the digital age. Is there a proper approach? Insurtech is embracing these dynamics and powering the shift through the significant capital flowing to new technology and startup companies from MGAs and insurers. There is much discussion and debate on how the shift will reshape the insurance market as we have known it for the last 50 years. But the industry should not forget that this same disruption has also affected other industries such as retail, media, travel, telecom and banking, where successful companies created new business models, technology solutions and more.

The insurance industry has long had a degree of protection from new entrants, provided by the complexity of the regulatory environments. However, regulators are quickly realizing they need to understand the new digital technologies and work with the insurance industry to integrate them into the market. Today, we are seeing that new entrants are making strong moves into the market by working with regulators. At the same time, existing insurers are bringing new, innovative products to market within their current businesses.

Irrespective of where one operates within the insurance market and across the insurance value chain, change is coming. The change is being driven by a combination of new customer needs and expectations, the rapid adoption of new technologies that offer significant opportunities to innovate and the changing market boundaries that expand market reach. The result is the rapid emergence of new entrants who see the selling, marketing and servicing of insurance in a very different light to the more traditional entities.

See also: How to Enhance Customer Service  

For existing insurers with legacy technology estates, tinkering around the edges or waiting to be a fast follower will not work, given the pace of change. As we have described in our research, Future Trends 2017: The Shift Gains Momentum, we are experiencing a tectonic shift that is creating a market dynamic that we call Digital Insurance 2.0.

If you embrace the need for change, what should you do to help adapt and innovate for the new world? Which slices should be approached first? Here are some suggestions:

Understand and Listen to the Customer. This is basic stuff, but the industry does not do it so well. In Majesco’s research, The Rise of the New Insurance Customer and The Rise of the Small-Medium Business Insurance Customer, insurance ranks at the bottom in its interactions with customers. In today’s digital age, the customer is in control. So, to transform a business, it is imperative to take the time and make a concerted effort to understand your customer needs and expectations … because your new competitors are.

Evaluate alignment of your strategy to your current systems’ infrastructure and organization. You’ll most likely find that your legacy systems’ estates are inhibiting your ability to change, let alone shift to Digital Insurance 2.0. Digital Insurance 2.0 requires a modern, open architecture that is cloud-ready and has open API capabilities to integrate new data sources, new technologies and more. Trying to apply a closed technical infrastructure to address the needs of Digital Insurance 2.0 is the proverbial square peg in a very round hole.

Prioritize. You can’t flip an established business on its head overnight. It’s just not going to happen. You need to grow the existing business while transforming and building the new business. This is crucial. Marketing and distribution should not pull back from traditional business in anticipation of the launch of new business models, new products or new channels. The current business is funding the future and needs to be kept running efficiently and effectively as the market shifts.

At the same time, you need to optimize the existing business while building the new businessIdeally, one would seek to transform a “sliver” of the operation which goes from “front-end” right through to the “back-end” function. If an organization’s teams have been working toward placing digital front ends on the traditional business to engage customers, they shouldn’t stop in the middle of the bridge. Any process that can be optimized on the traditional side will help to maximize the existing business, reduce the cost of doing business and provide a bridge from the past to the future while beginning to enable realignment of resources and investment into the new business. These are very often the incremental changes that will also gently shift the customer base through new ways of doing business.

Evolution vs. Revolution. Evolving a business is not going to be without its difficulties; but the greatest risk is allowing “old thinking” to solve “traditional issues.” This is not an ageist issue but a state of mind – “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein.

As you bring your thinking into what the new world looks like – most likely it won’t look like what is currently in place. From an organizational perspective, one should also be very open to creating “greenfield” entities — new structures built on a clean slate approach rather than replicating the traditional silo approach so frequently seen in large corporations.

Increasingly, insurers are developing a new business model for a new generation of buyersSome insurers have made the mistake of envisioning their digital front end as their big leap into the future, not realizing that they have only just touched the new landscape. They need a strategy for a new business model that supports simultaneous leaps forward that will create new customer engagement experiences underpinned by innovative products and services. This will create growth, competitive differentiation and success in a fast-changing market.

Creating the requisite infrastructure to address the realities of the market shift shouldn’t be underestimated; it will not be a trivial investment. Many insurers are looking at justifying investment based on growth strategies as well as competitive survival. Strategically, more are moving to the buy vs. build approach. Forward-looking companies are seeking a cloud-ready platform with a modern architecture that can support all the insurance business functions, as well as increasingly sophisticated digital and data capabilities to support the customer and distribution channels.

See also: Roadblocks to Good Customer Relations  

These solutions seamlessly integrate core insurance processing with a growing ecosystem of other technology providers, third-party data sources and the growing number of external sales/service platforms or marketplaces. As systems and their underlying architectures become more open, products and services will be sold and serviced as part of “non-owned” processes. As a result, insurers will need to integrate their data collection and transactional requirements into portals and platforms that they don’t control directly.

Clearly, we are seeing the shift to Digital Insurance 2.0, a key topic of discussion and strategic planning in the boardroom, though many may not fully appreciate the extent and ramifications of this shift. Truly transforming a business to Digital Insurance 2.0 will be a customer-centric, digital-first endeavor. The digital age shift is creating both a challenge and an opportunity for insurers. The time for plans, preparation and execution is now — recognizing that the gap is widening and the timeframe to respond is closing.

This article was written by Mike Smart.

What SMBs Want in Group Insurance

In my last blog, we established the rationale for group and voluntary benefits providers to consider new business and technology strategies. The market is changing. Market drivers should be pushing carriers to recreate themselves to meet the needs of employers and employees.

As a part of that blog, we touched on group and voluntary benefits for the small-to-medium business market. Nearly every group insurer recognizes that there is opportunity within the SMB market segment, but they need confirmation that: a) They understand what SMBs really want from group and voluntary benefit providers, and b) they grasp how they can employ technology to meet those needs.

So, in today’s blog, we will look at the answers to those issues in greater detail.

What do SMBs really want from their group insurance providers?

SMBs want insurance without huge costs. They care about premiums, and they pay attention to how much it costs to simply administer benefits. It takes time to educate employees, enroll them and handle their day-to-day benefit issues. SMBs recognize when an insurer is taking steps to remove administration hurdles and headaches, and they appreciate a streamlined, automated process that will reduce internal administration.

SMBs see innovative voluntary benefits as a differentiating employee acquisition and retention strategy. The unemployment rate is at a record low 4.1% in the U.S., plus we are seeing an increasing move of millennials starting new businesses and a shift of many into the gig economy.  This means that job seekers have options and choices. So, employers must have competitive and compelling voluntary benefits packages that meet the needs and expectations of a changing workforce.

Wearable technologies make a great addition to SMB employer offerings. Employers want health-focused, wellness incentives for healthy habits and exercise to keep costs low but also to align to changing expectations. In our new consumer research, The New Insurance Customer – Digging Deeper, we found that all generations use fitness trackers like Fitbit and that using a fitness tracker is one of the top three digitally performed activities that will have an impact on insurance. So, group and voluntary benefits providers that can integrate products with wearables or mobile tracking may get a second look.

SMBs want to have a wider selection of voluntary choices from their benefit providers. With the emergence of a new set of employee expectations and a competitive marketplace for talent, particularly for millennials and Gen Z, many companies are recognizing the value of voluntary benefits and the potential to offer options that appeal to the unique needs of different employee segments. Each segment has different needs and expectations, and a one-size-fits-all offering does not necessarily work.

See also: SMBs Need to Bulk Up Cyber Security  

Millennials and Gen Z are carrying large student debt loads, and many Baby Boomers are delaying retirement and are facing rising healthcare costs and low wage growth. In line with these issues, there are several voluntary benefit options that are expected to grow in popularity for these different generational groups among mid- to large-sized employers, according to Willis Towers Watson:

  • Long-term care – 30% now, 52% by 2018
  • Student loan repayment – 4% now, 26% by 2018
  • Pet insurance – 36% now, 60% by 2018
  • ID theft – 35% now, 70% by 2018

Self-funding is an area of interest for SMBs. SMBs that have carefully weighed the risk of self-funding, and that have a reasonably healthy employee base, stand to save a tremendous amount of money. Self-funding, however, still requires a carrier of some kind for administration purposes. Insurers that design self-funding plans into their overall offering stand to gain, because they can offer it as a “future” option for employers that may want to change or as an instant option for those that are ready today.

Group insurers can also look to the consumer market for preference and demand trends. In Majesco’s report, The Rise of the Small-Medium Business Insurance Customer, we found that, “insurers should reevaluate their digital and business strategies for small business owners and align them more closely to personal lines.” We also found that:

  • SMBs are thirsting for products that will lower their risk. SMBs are highly risk-conscious, and very in-touch with their employees, making them an excellent market for group products. The desire for lower risk also makes them likely to be open to technologies that will assist.
  • They are not unwilling to share relevant data if it gives them discounts or added protection. This will allow insurers to better control risk over smaller employee populations.
  • They are ready for easy-to-understand and easy-to-purchase solutions. The smallest businesses, those with one to nine employees, represents the largest share of the SMB market, yet they find it much harder to research, buy and service insurance. New insurers or MGA startups are capitalizing on this gap in service.
  • They are willing to break from tradition. SMBs have extremely low loyalty rates across all lines of insurance, and they are highly receptive to insurers with non-traditional offerings or value-added products.
  • They long for personalized service. This doesn’t mean that they need face-to-face service. It means that they need an organization that can customize products to fit the business need and have easy-to-use touchpoints for administration and communication.

What should group insurers seek from technology to meet the needs of the SMB market?

Here are some high priorities that group insurers should consider when they are looking at technology options:

Digital front end

In all of Majesco’s research, we have found that the most important driver for SMB buyers is ease of research, purchase and servicing. A digital front end will provide engaging, easy enrollment. It should come with claims technology and tracking that makes the process simple. It should somehow manage a process of continual engagement. It should provide service options that make it simple for SMB HR departments to administer the products, plus it should offer self-service administration options for employees to remove simple tasks from HR.

Speed to market with new products

Open enrollment happens every year, and it is on a fixed schedule. New products can’t simply be rolled out at any time. Insurers need quick methods for defining and testing new products, so they can offer and be ready when employers are putting together their benefits packages. Technology can help. Today’s cloud-based group product alternatives include pre-built rates, rules and products that can be up and running in a very short time. Group insurers can use these outside of core systems to add new products, services or whole new lines of business.

This is especially effective when considering the development of new personal property and casualty insurance as voluntary insurance. Many group insurers can’t consider these new types of offerings without first acquiring the technology to make it happen. Speed-to-market solutions are now far easier to implement and use than with traditional group systems.

Actionable data and consumer insights down to the individual consumer

Group products, and even SMBs, aren’t all governed by HIPAA-level data constraints that amalgamate individual data into company or community pools. Many types of voluntary products will yield individual data that can help employers and insurers manage risk.

Actionable data, such as social data, wearable data and behavioral data, should be gathered and analyzed. Insurers need a data framework in place that will add value to employers and employees.

An ecosystem for benefits administration

Group insurers should avoid burning their IT budgets with over-customization, or intensive integration or the maintenance costs of trying to keep obsolete technologies alive. An ideal technology solution leverages the best solutions in the market by building an ecosystem of best-of-breed solutions coupled together with a framework that will allow the ecosystem to accept plug-ins for today’s and tomorrow’s services and technologies.

The digital era shift is realigning fundamental elements of business that require major adjustments from insurers for them to survive and thrive. There are a multitude of potential futures for group, employee and voluntary benefits insurers in an increasingly volatile world. The rapid and unprecedented pace of change will drive out old business models and allow new ones to flourish with the introduction of products and the offering of new services, and much more, from both new insurtech startups and established insurers.

See also: Cyber Insurance Needs Automated Security  

At the heart of the disruption is a shift from Insurance 1.0 of the past to Digital Insurance 2.0 of the future. The gap is where innovative insurers are taking advantage of a new generation of buyers, capturing the opportunity to be the next market leaders in the digital age. The next wave of growth is expected to come from their ability to provide superior customer experience – not just in comparisons with other insurers but also in comparisons to all companies with which their customers interact.

There will be constant pressure from startups backed by venture capital, the M&A between traditionally different businesses like CVS and Aetna, the entry by big tech such as Apple, Amazon and Google into insurance and the digital transformation of existing insurers in the digital race to meet those needs and capture more share of the enormous opportunity in the market.

The time for understanding, planning and execution is now to capture these new opportunities for group, employee benefit and voluntary insurance. Those who recognize and rapidly respond to this shift will thrive in an increasingly competitive industry.

This article was written by Prateek Kumar.