Tag Archives: digital insurance

Has Digital Insurance Failed?

“Digital insurance” was an exciting concept for the insurers until a few years ago. It was believed that digital transformation would change the insurance industry forever. We can say that digital insurance was the “autonomous vehicle” of the insurance industry.

Today, it seems that the digital insurance concept has lost most of its popularity. Insurers haven’t found what they expected from digitalization; now, they are dreaming of more disruptive technological transformations (like insurtech). So, why has digital insurance failed?

The truth is insurance companies realized that digitalizing the traditional insurance process is not enough. At the beginning, they must have thought that, after transforming all offline processes to online, digitalization will be completed, and everyone will be happy with that.

If you define digitalization as “transforming all offline processes to online,” insurance companies did their job completely, but ungrateful (!) consumers did not appreciate the change enough. Although most insurance companies have digitalized their sale process in the last five years, the share of online sales is still below 1%.

However, if you define digitalization in the broader meaning as “being a part of the online ecosystem, to respond to changing and diversifying customer expectations,” insurance companies are going nowhere fast. This makes clear why digital insurance projects haven’t reached expectations.

See also: Digital Insurance, Anyone?  

There are reasons why the digital world is growing incredibly fast, regardless of industry. These are also motivators for stakeholders to be a part of the digital ecosystem:

  • Low investment cost, easy entrance to the market and easy exit (means high competition)
  • Low agency and services cost (low price)
  • Easy-to-reach information (more comparison)
  • Real user reviews (more trusted purchase)
  • Product diversity (a tailor-made way to satisfy needs)
  • Easy purchase and live support (better customer experience)

These six topics are the essentials of a well-built digital ecosystem. Let’s check how many of these features are available in the digital insurance ecosystem: Zero.

So, we need to think about how we can bring the six fundamentals to insurance.

Low Investment Cost, Easy Entrance and Exit

The insurance business is strictly regulated in many respects, but, if we want to grow the digital insurance market, we have to make providing insurance easier. We need a new approach to insurance agency services, especially in digital platforms. Simple, fixed-price and easy-to-understand products should be sold by digital retailers or even individuals. Uber has transformed the individual transportation industry by providing a simple service.

Low Agency and Services Cost

Rule No. 1 about online shopping: Consumers want to have a significant price advantage while shopping online. Discount coupons, gift cards, limited time offers are necessary in online shopping. If you think that offering an off-season discount on health insurance is absurd, think again.

Easy-to-Reach Information

Insurance products are too complicated; we all know it. We also know they don’t have to be. We should simplify products and make them easier to understand. To sell a product online easily, you have to provide all key information in a few minutes. Why don’t we replace boring policy documents with YouTube videos?

Real User Reviews

Creating a name in the digital world has never been easier–or harder. While a no-name startup can become a well-known brand with thousands of fans in a few months, giant brands can lose all of their prestige with a simple case. If you want to exist in the digital ecosystem, you must have a good reputation and always protect it. Blogs, forums, customer reviews have a huge impact on the consumer’s purchasing decision, even more than TV ads bought with millions of dollars.

Product Diversity

There is a word that doesn’t exist in the digital ecosystem: “standard.” Almost every product sold online has different color, size, function, power and quality options. For the consumers who are familiar with these opportunities, a one-size-fits-all approach will not be appreciated. Do you think that the couple who are going to the Maldives for their honeymoon and to Tanzania for a safari have typical needs and expectations for travel insurance?

Easy Purchase and Live Support

We are all busy. Digital consumers want to handle all their business as soon as possible, including insurance. If a consumer prefers buying insurance online instead of buying from a traditional agency, he would like to save time. Long phone calls, pages of application documents, lengthy procedures… have no chance in the digital world. People don’t even want to talk on the phone any more; do you have a Whatsapp number?

See also: A Game Changer for Digital Innovation  

Unfortunately, insurers emptied the concept of digitalization. There is a myth that everyone is doing something, but no one can make progress.

We don’t have to wait for Amazon to change the rules of the game in digital insurance. The industry can catch the digital era with a well-defined and rational strategy, based on the requirements of a digital ecosystem. Even a collective transformation strategy that includes all stakeholders of the insurance ecosystem would be much more successful than what is happening now.

Without a new strategy, digital insurance will be a cool idea to mention in an insurance company’s annual reports but nothing more.

Are Insurers Ready for Voice Search?

Who do property and casualty insurance customers turn to when they need help?

In the past, answers have included insurance agents, customer helplines and company websites. Today, however, customers are increasingly likely to consult Alexa, Siri or Cortana.

As voice assistants gain popularity in homes, in cars and on smartphones, they’re also gaining traction as a marketing tool. Here, we look at the ways in which insurance companies are using voice assistants as part of their marketing and sales strategy, as well as what to expect in the near future.

How Voice Assistants Are Changing Marketing

Voice assistants commonly come in one of two forms: wireless speakers that can be placed in the home or office, or as built-in tools on smartphones. iPhones and various Android devices have had them for a few years now.

In some ways, voice assistants work similarly to visual or text-based tools like smartphone apps and Google search bars. The user asks a question or enters a command, and the device responds to it. Voice assistants like Alexa even offer apps, or “skills,” that work similarly to smartphone apps — except they rely on audio rather than visuals to share information, TechCrunch’s Sarah Perez writes.

The audio-based approach changes the ways in which both search results and apps work on voice assistant devices. A text-based Google search, for instance, returns a list of links from which the user can choose. A voice-based search, however, tends to return the single response the AI thinks best fits the user’s query.

Some experts praise this option for its speed and flexibility. “Since voice flattens menus, it will make daily tasks far easier to complete,” Jelli CEO Mike Dougherty says. Yet it also puts additional pressure on marketing teams to ensure that their content gets chosen by the various search engines that inform each voice-based device, says Richard Yao, senior associate of strategy and content at IPG Media Lab.

Voice assistants haven’t just changed how search results are presented. They have also changed how users launch searches in the first place, says More Visibility’s Jill Goldstein. While text-based searches tend to focus on two or three keywords, voice-based searches use full, natural-language sentences. These often start with question words like “what,” “how” or “when.”

See also: Insurtech Starts With ‘I’ but Needs ‘We’  

These questions give marketers insight into where shoppers are in their buying journey and how best to meet their needs — but only if marketing teams are collecting and using this information, says Tyler Riddell, vice president of marketing for eSUB Construction Software.

Not only are marketing teams learning to adapt to the differences between audio and visual, but they’re also learning how to adapt to a search tool that adapts itself.

Because voice assistants use artificial intelligence and machine learning, they can adapt to changes in search terms, says Gartner analyst Ranjit Atwal. The onboard AI is designed to learn over time, gaining a better sense of how users frame their queries and the sort of information they may be looking for.

‘Alexa, Find Me Auto Insurance’: The Rising Demand for Voice Search

Based on recent sales trends, 55% of U.S. households are expected to have a smart home speaker, with voice assistance enabled, in their houses by the end of 2019, Dara Treseder at Adweek reports. Voice assistants are also a mainstay of many smartphones, from Apple’s Siri to Google’s voice search option triggered by saying, “OK, Google.”

Insurance customers increasingly prefer to include digital channels in their search for property and casualty insurance. With voice assistants occupying millions of smartphones and a wide range of other devices, customers increasingly prefer to rely on these tools, as well.

Nearly half (46%) of insurance customers already use voice search tools at least once per day, according to Shane Closser at Property Casualty 360. One in four want their voice assistants to be able to give them more information on insurance agents and products. One in three wanted to use voice assistants to book appointments with a particular insurance agent.

Service-based companies that offer “highly complex and highly personal” services are uniquely suited to thrive in the voice search era, says Adweek’s Julia Stead. While Stead focuses on travel, finance and healthcare, her analysis applies to P&C insurers, as well, because these companies also offer services that have long been accessed via voice (phone), are tailored to the needs of each customer and often require access at odd locations or hours.

And while the conversation about tech innovation often focuses on younger users, voice assistants are increasingly popular with older insurance customers.

See also: Future of Insurance Looks Very Different  

Lauryn Chamberlain at GeoMarketing.com says that 37% of consumers age 50 and older say they use a voice assistant, often because simply speaking to a smart speaker or phone is easier than tapping, swiping or reducing a question to its key search terms. In other words, older users can think of their voice assistants as a helpful background entity rather than as a device.

In short, voice assistants are cutting across demographics. They’re entering more homes and workspaces. And insurance customers want to use them to secure coverage.

How P&C Insurers Are Incorporating Voice Into Their Marketing

Several insurance companies are already experimenting with voice assistant tools as part of their own marketing process, according to Danni Santana at Digital Insurance. For instance, Nationwide, Liberty Mutual (and subsidiary SafeCo) and Farmers have all launched Amazon Echo Skills.

Progressive, meanwhile, joined Google Home in March 2017, the first insurance carrier to do so, according to Rachel Brown at Mobile Marketer.

Other insurance companies have experimented with different approaches. Amica Mutual Insurance, for example, launched an Alexa skill that doesn’t connect users to their individual accounts. Rather, it offers information in more than a dozen categories to help users better understand billing, discounts, storm preparation and more.

With the development of Alexa skills and similar tools, brands are thinking about how a voice assistant’s sound affects their brand development, says Jennifer Harvey, VP of branding and communications at Bynder. The choice of voice tone, pitch and speed can all send a powerful message about an insurer’s brand and culture, whether it’s reassuring, serious, cheerful or anything in between.

One of the big opportunities for insurance companies and voice assistants is access. Currently, voice assistants can take on many simple tasks but can’t always handle a transaction as complex as ensuring a customer receives the right home or auto coverage for their needs. Yet developments in AI and voice recognition indicate this may change. “Alexa is already capable of placing a complicated pizza order,” says Inbal Lavi, CEO of Webpals Group, “underscoring that voice assistants will act as more than middlemen.”

For now, however, even the digital middleman approach can benefit potential and current P&C insurance customers and the companies that serve them. “We want to enable easy access for our customers,” says Alexander Bernert, head of brand management at Zurich Insurance. “Consumers do not necessarily think of taking out disability insurance between 9 am and 5 pm, but maybe even shortly before midnight.”

It can be tough to reach an insurance agent shortly before midnight. But a voice assistant can find one, provide information and even schedule an appointment — making it easier for potential customers to turn into actual purchasers.

In a world where insurance customers already do research and contact insurers via multiple channels, voice assistants are a natural frontier for insurance marketing.

8 Insurtech Predictions for China in 2018

This post, which describes recent news coming from insurtech and digital insurance in China, was written for Daily Fintech by Zarc Gin from Insurview from within China.

Happy New Year!

It has been a great honor for me to share insurtech developments in China since last November. I hope my posts here help you understand what’s happening in China, so you can either learn from the experiences or even develop businesses opportunities in China.

Today, I’m going to share the predictions we made about insurtech in China in 2018. They are a combination of opinions, ideas, trend analyses and hopes.

1. More funds, more IPOs

We have seen huge amount of funds pouring into digital insurance in China, and top startups are well-funded. Because of the successful IPO of Zhong An, investors are looking for the next big name in digital insurance. Top startups are also aiming for IPOs to catch up with Zhong An. So the fever of digital insurance will enter the next level, with huge funds and IPOs in 2018. My forecast is that Ping An Good Doctor, a Ping An Group subsidiary, will be the first insurtech IPO this year.

2. More digital health insurance

Premium income of health insurance has been growing quickly since 2011, with 404.25 billion RMB ($62.32 billion) income in 2016 and a 68% growth rate. Exalted Life was one of the most popular health policies from Zhong An in 2016. Ping An also launched E-home and E-life, which were well-received. The competition of digital health insurance got more intense in 2017 with the launch of Wesure. So, the competition will continue, and health insurance will be even more widely received in 2018.

See also: How Is Insurtech Different in Asia?  

3. Opportunities for B2B startups

Over the past two years, B2C startups were in fashion. But the digitalization of the whole insurance industry is far from accomplished, and the infrastructure of insurance is still in its early stage. Therefore, the potential for B2B startups will be big in 2018.

4. Rise of a new type of broker

CIRC has been trying to weaken bancassurance channels in China. This led insurers to seek the support from broker companies, and the insurance intermediary industry is expanding with this opportunity. Life brokers like Mingya and EverPro are growing quickly. Focusing on quality of individual brokers is their key difference from traditional broker companies. Digital broker companies like Tuniu are also growing rapidly with the help of e-commerce resources. We believe brokerage will have a new age in digital insurance, and both the life and property sectors will grow significantly in 2018.

5. New look on auto insurance

With regulation on auto insurance tightening, the combined ratios for auto insurers are increasing. To reverse the situation, auto insurers need to grab the digital opportunity and develop policies from the perspective of customers. We believe digital auto insurer will explore the possibilities in the digital age and make a difference to the current auto insurance.

6. Opportunity in data and information

Insurers are connected with their customers’ lives, so they will have access to all the data generated, such as health, habits and behaviors. Data can show insurers where the world is going, so there will be a huge opportunity in data collection and analysis.

See also: Top 10 Insurtech Trends for 2018  

7. Globalization

The world is getting smaller thanks to the internet, both for China and for other countries. The interaction between China and the world is getting more and more frequent. Foreign insurtech companies such as Singapore-based CXA Group are exploring Chinese markets, and Chinese insurers like Fosun and CPIC are implementing their plans around the world.

8. Talent liquidity

Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu all entered digital insurance in 2017. They will heat up the talent liquidity in this industry. We will see an increasing combination between tech talents and insurance talents in the future.

This article first appeared at Daily Fintech.

A Word With Shefi: Inoma at WeSavvy

This is part of a series of interviews by Shefi Ben Hutta with insurance practitioners who bring an interesting perspective to their work and to the industry as a whole. Here, she speaks with Hesus Inoma at WeSavvy.

Describe WeSavvy in 50 words or fewer:

WeSavvy is a digital insurance platform that gives customers cash back on their insurance premiums when they walk, run or cycle. WeSavvy’s mission is to give back customers control over their insurance premiums.

Why WeSavvy?

We believe the current insurance model is broken. We need to shift the current model from one of indemnification (payout in the event of a claim) to one of loss prevention and control. This can only be achieved by changing the current industry model from one that penalizes to one that rewards the customers for positive behaviors. If we take the healthcare industry in the U.S. as an example, between 2010 and 2015 premiums have increased by more than 26%, leaving customers completely powerless and at the mercy of year-on-year increases. WeSavvy showcases a better way to transform the healthcare insurance industry, by giving the customer full control of healthcare expenses.

How did you decide to pursue the idea of WeSavvy?

I’m passionate about the digitalization of insurance, yet WeSavvy is personal to me. Back in 2012, I was overweight, and my 2013 New Year’s resolution was to lose weight. I unleashed the power of my community to support me through my journey, and I successfully lost weight throughout 2013 and became very healthy. However, my health insurance premiums went up in 2014, and there was no way for me to effectively communicate my personal journey to my insurer. That’s when I decided, in late 2014, to quit my job and build WeSavvy, a platform that grants the insurer the ability to personalize quotes and empower policyholders to gain back control over insurance premiums.

What’s in a name?

I wanted a name that reflects our core beliefs that “We” as a community [friends, family, network] can leverage technology and be “Savvy” tackling the obstacles placed in front of us in relation to insurance.

Describe your typical client:

In everything we do at WeSavvy, we keep the policyholder [our end customer] in mind. Our current business model is B2B2C [business to business to consumer], where we leverage current networks present within the insurance industry to reach the policyholder. Our clients are insurers and agents looking to meet the expectations of the next generation of customers, whether millennials or digital natives.

What does competition look like?

We’re often compared to Vitality. The difference between WeSavvy and Vitality is the tangibility of our rewards mechanism. We want to ensure customers receive tangible rewards, which increases their disposable income. Vitality’s main focus is the insurer, and [Vitality has] partnered exclusively with one insurer in every new market it has entered. What happens to the other insurers and agents? Our focus is to service the market as a whole and all participants of that market. Our technology will be available to every insurer or agency that would like to better serve its customers. We will leave our user experience for another day!

You took part in the Deloitte Digital Disruptor; what did you learn? 

The biggest lesson I’ve learned was that the industry wants to embrace innovation, but, at times, the internal infrastructure and culture is not there to move at a pace of a start-up. Insurers that create the internal infrastructure and culture to move at the required pace will be the ones that reap the biggest rewards.

You’re currently taking part in the Global Insurance Accelerator; lesson learned?

We’ve perceive the main insurance hubs as being London and New York, and it turns out that Des Moines is a hidden gem for our market. The concentration of insurance companies in Des Moines is mind-blowing. Des Moines is truly “Kicking ass, taking names and selling insurance” [to quote the city’s slogan]. I’d advise any insurance company that is thinking of setting up an innovation lab or is looking to work with start-ups to reach out to Brian Hemesath and see what he has created here. The conditions for a start-up to succeed are truly embedded in this 100-day program.

Where do you see WeSavvy in five years?

WeSavvy will be the catalyst in transforming how the insurance industry is perceived. Insurance is an awesome product, but it has failed to communicate its true value to the customer. Insurance is one of the best mechanisms of risk transfer, and it forms the bedrock of every developed society. I see WeSavvy growing from strength to strength, year on year, and moving into other insurance products, which have failed to engage and resonate with the customers. We have no exit strategy, for the simple reason that, if I exited from WeSavvy, my next venture would still be in insurance; and I love what WeSavvy as a company stands for: personal and social empowerment. You never know, we might IPO one day!

Best life lesson:

“Your Health is your wealth” is one of my best lessons as it taught me [after my mother passed away for cancer] that if there’s anything we could do to extend our time with our loved ones in this life, we should do it!

To see more of the “A Word With Shefi” series, visit her thought leader profile. To subscribe to her free newsletter, “Insurance Entertainment,” click here.

tech

Where Are the InsurTech Start-Ups?

As a technology investor, I spend my days scouring Europe in search of the next big thing.

London’s FinTech scene has been a profitable hunting ground of late. With the U.K. FinTech industry generating $20 billion in revenue annually, it is not surprising that $5.4 billion has been invested in British FinTech companies since 2010.

A daily journey on the Tube is a testament to how rich the FinTech scene has become, with the capital’s underground trains now wallpapered with ads for Crowdcube, Transferwise, Nutmeg and other innovative companies. And London has played host to FinTech Week, celebrating the contribution these firms are making to the capital’s evolving financial services industry.

But where are the insurance tech entrepreneurs?

It is frequently—and accurately—argued that it is London’s birthright to play host to the poster-children of FinTech because of the capital’s impressive legacy and world-leading position in banking.

Read more: London FinTech investment in 2015 has already surpassed last year’s total.

The same can be said of insurance: The concept of modern insurance was solidified in Edward Lloyd’s coffee house in the 1680s. Yet there isn’t a day celebrating InsurTech— let alone a week of conferences, events and after-parties.

This is even though the insurance industry, with trillions of dollars of annual insurance premiums globally, is comparable in size to the rest of the financial services industry put together. Digital insurance should be an obvious target for technological disruption, especially as traditional insurers have struggled to adapt to the digital age en masse.

Recent research by Morgan Stanley found that consumer satisfaction with online experiences in the insurance industry is well below average, with only real estate and telcos finishing lower in the 16-industry league table. The big insurance brands have very little contact with their end consumer because of intermediaries such as offline broker networks, and, as a result, brand advocacy is often low. Put it this way: When was the last time you raved to your neighbor about your insurance provider?

Technology has the potential to drive worthwhile change in insurance. There are already a few success stories, but only a few. Insurance comparison engines such as Moneysupermarket, Compare the Market and Check24 have fundamentally altered how consumers discover their insurance providers. Black Box Insurance, based on telematics data, has become a mainstream product for young drivers, fueling the growth of companies such as InsureTheBox and Marmalade.

Read more:  These are the most influential people in FinTech

These are all fantastic firms, but there is not a long list beyond these examples.

So, why don’t we see more of this type of innovation? Insurance does have far higher barriers to entry than many other industries. To simply get an insurance company off the ground, it requires a colossal amount of cash to cover any potential claims. Additionally, regulation is tough, with good reason. The European Commission’s Solvency II Directive sets a high standard for the capital requirements for insurers to hit to be classed as an eligible provider.

This type of money is hard for a start-up to find. Having said this, very similar challenges are being overcome in retail banking, with challenger banks such as Metro and Atom obtaining banking licenses and putting regulatory capital in place. The successes that many have encountered in FinTech should buoy potential InsurTech entrepreneurs, as should the appetite of venture capitalists to invest in the insurance sector.

I don’t just speak for myself; insurance has excited many colleagues from other funds, especially as the industry is starting to give us some success stories. Slowly but surely, companies such as The Floow, BoughtByMany and QuanTemplate are demonstrating that technology can disrupt the insurance industry. London’s centuries-old legacy in insurance has created a talent pool that is, arguably, the best in the world. Combine this with the strong tech talent in the capital and you can see that the raw ingredients required to build extremely interesting companies are readily available. Additionally, certain large incumbent insurers are beginning to show interest in nurturing the capital’s potential InsurTech community. AXA is a particularly good example, having recently launched Kamet, a €100 million accelerator program aimed specifically at InsurTech entrepreneurs.

The combination of VC appetite, available talent and support from existing players demonstrates that London is a powder keg of untapped potential. The only missing ingredients, at the moment, are the world-beating entrepreneurs willing to put their ideas to the test.

FinTech has shown that London can lead the world in industries that are steeped in tradition and ripe for change. It’s time for InsurTech to step out of the wings.