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A Word With Shefi: Carbone at Bain

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 Matteo Carbone, with Bain Financial Services in Italy, who says the Internet of Things “has introduced more changes than the sector has seen in the last 100 years.”

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.

Describe what you do in 50 words or less:

I advise financial services groups mainly on innovation within their business models. My field is insurance, and I’ve spent the last couple of years handling digitalization of traditional channels: inventing technology-based value propositions, generating customer experience strategies and bringing the omni-channel approach into the insurance business.

Name an emerging technology you are most excited about:

Internet of Things – it’s a game changer! From connected cars to “domotics,” to wearables to connected machines; all the things that are creating tremendous opportunities to price risk, handle claims differently and deliver new services. In the last couple of years, this technology has introduced more changes than the sector has seen in the last 100 years.

Name one similarity and one difference between American and Italian insurance shoppers:

The customer preference for human interaction at the purchase stage within the customer journey is the same in both countries, and so is the digitalization wave, which is obliging insurers to create an omni-channel customer journey around their traditional, physical point of sale.

One important difference is the role of banks in insurance distribution. In Italy, bancassurance accounts not only for more than 80% of the life market but also for 16% of the P&C personal lines market, excluding auto. Currently, banks are looking to play a more relevant role in the auto insurance distribution.

Name a challenge you have faced working in insurance:

You have to really know the intimacy of this strange industry to be able to innovate it. It’s a technical business, so you cannot advise an insurer without knowing the deep aspects of the industry.

A memorable consulting gig:

Without a doubt, it was two years ago advising Renova Group on the acquisition of Octo Telematics, a global leader in insurance telematics solutions. It was amazing to help Renova discover the value of telematics for the insurance business.

Your favorite news source:

As for me, LinkedIn is the primary source. Each day, I check five to 10 insurance news websites yet the best insights come from my LinkedIn network of insurance professionals around the world. I consider the daily sharing of ideas with them an incredible asset.

When you are not working for Bain & Company you are most likely…

My work is my hobby. I enjoy my work, and it is normal for me to think about work even when I am doing other things. However, if I have to identify my main hobby, it is fitness. I am definitely addicted to the gym.

If you weren’t working in insurance consulting, what profession would you be in?

I would probably be managing my family’s historical winery.

Prosecco or Champagne?

Champagne! I’m in love with Krug Clos Du Mesnil; their first vintage was produced the year I was born.

Favorite quote:

“Work hard, play harder.”

Which term best describes you…

  • Driverless or in control? In control
  • Elon Musk (dreamer) or Warren Buffett (doer)? Warren Buffett
  • Risk-averse or risk-taker? Risk-taker

Can Insurance Be Funny? Should It?

I was thinking recently about humor in insurance, oddly enough coinciding with the recent final performance by the Monty Python team in London. Insurance was on the Python’s radar, even offered as a safer alternative to being a lumberjack. There was one notable sketch about motor insurance. I must confess I’m almost nervous about reminding everyone of the content, but it went like this:

….Oh! And the next item is a sketch about insurance called ‘Insurance Sketch’….

(Cut to Mr Devious’s insurance office. Devious and a man are sitting there.)

Devious: What do you want?

Man : Well I’ve come about your special fully comprehensive motor insurance policy offer.

Devious: What was that?

Man: Fully comprehensive motor insurance for one-and-eightpence.  [Author’s note: about two dimes in real money]

Devious: Oh, oh, yes, yeah, well, unfortunately, guv, that offer’s no longer valid. You see, it turned out not to be economically viable, so we now have a totally new offer.

Man: What’s that?

Devious: A nude lady.

Man: A nude lady?

Devious: Yes. You get a nude lady with a fully comprehensive motor insurance. If you just want third party, she has to keep her bra on, and if it’s just theft….

You’ll find the full text of that script here.

There was humor in commercials well before geckos. Consider this video of a little dog called Lucky.

Another InsuranceThoughtLeadership contributor, Shefi Ben Hutta, this month launched a new site that I unashamedly am willing to promote, called theSkinnie, which merges insurance with entertainment.

It’s a smart idea — the equivalent of reading the cartoons in the newspaper before you get to the real stuff. I must confess that when I first saw this, it felt like going to the dentist — lots of nerves were touched. But it made me think more about my industry and shook me out of any complacency.

So, is there any way that insurance can be funny? It’s an industry that constantly lives with disaster, illness and misfortune. Most of its practitioners inevitably create personal defense mechanisms, often through humor, so as not to take our jobs home with us. But there are lighter moments.

Oddly enough, all the contributors to this site, and all its readers, are connected by a golden thread, a thread of responsibility coupled with objectiveness. At the end of the working day, most of us breathe a slight sign of relief that, whatever it was, it happened to someone else and not to us.

Or as Monty Python would have said, “Always look on the bright side of life.”

12 Animals That Sell Insurance

Insurance companies, agencies and vendors really like animals. We like them partly because we insure them. But mostly we like them because, in an industry that struggles to translate its core values to tangible brand attributes, a cute and fuzzy or large, strong animal can help convey the right message and generate attention.

These 12 brands, while completely different in size and essence, found the perfect animal to communicate their offerings and stand out from the herd (or pack or pride or. . . ).

1. Aflac Duck


2. Bolt Horse


3. Car Insurance Gorilla


4. Elephant Auto Insurance Elephant (What Else?)


5. Geico Camel


6. Geico Gecko


7. Geico Pig


8. Giraffe Professional Insurance Agency



9. Hartford Stag


10. ING Lion


11. MetLife Snoopy


12. The Zebra – Zebra


If Insurance Invaded Magazine Covers

Insurance is about collectively managing risks of every person, place or thing. Yet, at best, insurance is the evil step sister of Finance, as the latter, while just as intangible, managed to penetrate mainstream via iconic symbols such as Wall Street and the American dollar, and isn’t that the best brand on earth!

Anyhow, that’s all about to change. As the saying goes “If you can dream it, you can do it”. So we went on dreaming…What if insurance spread to the realms of America’s favorite publications because it finally received the attention it deserves?

1. From Wired to Hired   hired


2. From GQ to IQ




3. From Vogue to Fraudfraud

4. From Cosmopolitan Catmopolitan


* Miley Cyrus shoot for Cosmopolitan magazine

5. From Playboy to Playsafe


5 Insurance Novels You Must Read Some Time Over the Summer

With commoditization and disintermediation being the talk of the town, we’d like to remind folks that it’s summer. And summer times are meant for easy breezy romances and page-turner thrillers. So drop a few syllables and pick up a few books; we can promise heated affairs, insurance scams, murder mysteries and exotic dancing.

1. Double Indemnity

Author: James M. Cain

Published Date: 1943


Plot: Walter Huff is an insurance agent who falls for the married Phyllis Nirdlinger, who is in need of consultation regarding accident insurance for her husband. In spite of his basic decent and good-old nature, Walter allows himself to be seduced into helping the femme fatale kill her husband for the insurance money.

Hashtag: #InsuranceFraud #LoveAffair #Murder

2. Double Shuffle

Author: James Hadley Chase

Published Date: 1954


Plot: Why would an obscure blonde dancer who performed in a G-string – with a deadly snake for a partner – be insured for a million dollars? That’s the million-dollar question on Steve Harmas’ mind. As the special investigator assigned to this obscure case, the only thing he knows fro sure is that this isn’t another publicity stunt; someone stood to gain an awful lot of money if she died.

Hashtag: #InsuranceFraud, #ExoticDancing #Blondes

3. The Rainmaker

Author: John Grisham

Published Date: 1995


Plot: Rudy Baylor, a young man barely out of law school, is required to provide free legal advice to a group of senior citizens, and it is there that he meets his first “clients,” Dot and Buddy Black. Their son, Donny Ray, is dying of leukemia, and their insurance company has flatly refused to pay for his medical treatments. While Rudy is at first skeptical, he soon realizes that the Blacks really have been shockingly mistreated by their insurance company, and that he just may have stumbled on one of the largest insurance frauds anyone’s ever seen.

Hashtag: #Corruption, #Power, #Greed

4. Death Benefits

Author: Thomas Perry

Published Date: 2012


Plot: A careful, methodical young data analyst for a California insurance company, John Walker, knows when people will marry, at what age they will most likely have children and when they will die. All signs point to a long successful career, until Max Stillman, a gruff security consultant, appears without warning at the office. It seems a colleague with whom Walker once had an affair has disappeared after paying a very large death benefit to an impostor. Stillman wants to find and convict her; Walker is convinced the woman is innocent. Now Walker teams up with Stillman on an urgent race relentlessly leading to a payoff that just might shock the life out of him

Hashtag: #Chase #Affair

5. Dead Anyway

Author: Kris Knopf

Published Date: 2012


Plot: The hit man who invades the Cathcarts’ upscale home in Stamford, Conn., tells Florencia Cathcart that, if she doesn’t write down the answers to five questions, he’ll kill her husband. When she complies, he shoots them both anyway. Florencia dies, but Arthur merely hovers in a coma for months. Convinced upon his return to life that his killer’s been monitoring his progress with a view to finishing him off, he persuades his neurologist sister, Evelyn, to have him declared dead. She agrees, although she’s signing on to a long list of potential charges for conspiracy and insurance fraud, and Arthur, once he’s erased from the grid, is free to assume the identity of one Alex Rimes and go after the hit man and his employer. He tires easily, he limps badly, and his vision is poor, but his skills as a freelance researcher turn out to be surprisingly useful, though he can’t imagine why anyone would order the execution of either himself or Florencia, who owned a successful insurance agency. The trail to the killers leads through a wary arrangement with a retired FBI agent, an elaborate precious-metals scam and a society party to die for before Arthur finally confronts his quarry in a sequence that manages both to satisfy readers’ bloodlust and to point toward a sequel.

Hashtag: #InsuranceFraud #DataBreach

The End