Tag Archives: mobile

A P&C Guide for Digital Distribution

Property and casualty insurers aren’t shying away from digital distribution. “[F]our out of five insurers either have, or are planning to set up, wholly digital sales processes in which humans are involved only when customers need advice,” Accenture global insurance industry Senior Managing Director John Cusano reports.

But taking digital distribution from concept to reality still poses major challenges for many P&C insurers.

Here, we look at some of the biggest challenges of implementing a digital distribution strategy and how to overcome them.

Everyone’s Going Mobile

In a 2013 article for Wired, Christina Bonnington predicted that the world would contain 24 billion connected devices by 2020 and that the Internet of Things would result in people doing ever more tasks from their smartphones.

We got there early: Statista estimates that the world of 2018 already contains 23.14 billion connected devices and that the number will be more like 31 billion in 2020. And more of these devices than ever are mobile devices.

It seems as if the insurance industry only just began to embrace the opportunities afforded by digital technology when customers’ attention switched to this highly connected, primarily mobile world.

Today, customers “expect the same intuitive experience from their insurance carriers as they do from their favorite mobile app,” says Rahim Kaba at OneSpan. And they’re not the only ones. “Even insurance agents are demanding better digital capabilities from insurers to increase their ease of doing business,” Kaba says.

See also: Is P&C Distribution Actually Digitizing?  

Putting Numbers to the Scope of Mobile’s Impact

Mobile is an essential consideration for insurance companies, according to Andrew Sheridan at DialogTech, who cites several statistics that illuminate the opportunity available:

  • 40% of customers’ time researching insurance was spent on mobile, and 51% of these customers purchased insurance as a result of their research.
  • 25% of insurance shoppers do all their buying via their mobile devices.
  • 66% use a specific insurance company’s app.

Yet going mobile poses some challenges for insurance companies. For one thing, customers expect to be able to do everything from pay premiums to file claims, get driving tips or find a repair shop via a mobile app. That’s a lot of work for an app to do — and the more an app does, the slower and thus less appealing it is likely to be

Another challenge is the integration of older technologies with new ones. As Parmy Olson notes at Forbes, older telemetrics devices like Progressive’s Snapshot are starting to give way to smartphone apps that perform similar tasks, measuring speed, distance and other driving-related factors that can affect premium calculations.

These apps can seem more convenient to customers, but they can also make certain measurements or calculations more difficult. For instance, telemetric devices installed in the vehicle itself can more easily detect a crash and call for help, says Jim Levandusky, vice president of telemetrics at Verisk Analytics.

Embracing Industry Shifts

One solution? “Collaboration with the disrupters,” says Trevor Lloyd-Jones at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. Embracing mobile tools like telematics can make mobile apps easier for customers and more effective for insurance companies, and when these tools are approached through software as a service (SaaS) or similar providers, concerns about security or analysis are often addressed as part of the platform.

Companies that dismiss disruptors in the insurtech sphere do so at their peril, says Nikolaus Sühr, co-founder and CEO of KASKO. The era of relying solely on historical data may be coming to an end. “Disruption in other industries is actually changing user behavior and the nature of risk, so there is no relevant historical data anymore,” Sühr writes.

When moving into mobile for customers, agents or both, don’t be afraid to A/B test mobile apps, try new things and to innovate, says Amir Rozenberg, director of product management at Perfecto. While experimentation must account for the tight regulatory world insurance companies inhabit, trying out options in the mobile sphere allows P&C insurers to better understand how their customers use mobile — and how the company can use what it learns to attract and keep better customers.

Within this process, however, it’s important to keep mobile in perspective. “Even with this trend, companies need to ensure a mobile app supplements the overall experience and doesn’t dominate it,” says Rodney Johnson at Kony.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

“With customers using more devices in more ways, there are new options for customer engagement,” stated a recent Incom Business Systems white paper. There are also plenty of challenges. Mobile devices feel personalized to customers, and with companies in other industries extending that personalization to their apps, insurance companies are feeling the pressure to personalize, as well.

A hallmark of in-person or traditional channels has been their one-size-fits-all approach to customers, according to Shashank Singh in an article at Insurance Nexus. Many P&C insurers have attempted to transfer this approach to the digital world, only to discover it doesn’t work.

Data and analytics offer insurers an unprecedented opportunity to understand and respond to each customer as an individual, from recommending products to calculating risk.

Digital distribution can also make it easier to capture a growing segment of the P&C insurance market that has changed its behavior as it finds itself priced out of coverage. “Rethinking distribution is key to successful inclusive insurance,” says Peter Wrede of World Bank Group USA. “Low distribution costs make insurance affordable for low-income people.”

A 2017 article by in The Street noted that 18 million adults in the U.S. currently cannot afford auto insurance, so they go without, often turning to public transportation or rides from friends instead. As a result, “personal automobile insurance is in a crisis,” said Dave Delaney of Owner Operator Direct. “Rates have been increasing steadily since 2011, and there is no end in sight.”

By turning to a digital distribution system to reduce costs, however, insurance companies gain the opportunity to make coverage more affordable, recapturing some of the 18 million customers who currently believe auto insurance won’t fit into their household budget.

See also: The Future of P&C Distribution 

Lack of Support Systems

Personalization of the digital customer experience, leveraging tools like mobile apps, presents a profound opportunity to understand and respond to customers’ needs better than ever before, said Ash Hassib, senior vice president of insurance solutions at LexisNexis. But “data availability isn’t the issue,” Hassib said. “It’s how you use it to underpin sustainable and profitable growth that’s the real challenge for insurers.”

And for many insurers, this challenge arises the moment they try to use that customer data within their current organization.

“Insurers have focused on digitalizing the front end, with insufficient focus on the systems that support distribution,” said a May 2017 report from the Insurance Governance Leadership Network. Additional challenges in retention have resulted, with insurance companies noting that customers leave because the system doesn’t provide adequate support for their experience.

Customers who use multiple channels to communicate with insurance companies are more likely to face problems caused by insufficient systems inside the organization itself. Perhaps this is why, relative to other industries, insurance company employees rated their companies 9% lower on providing a high-quality customer experience, according to Tom Bobrowski at The Digital Insurer. P&C companies were also rated 8% lower than average at “good cooperation between functions,” allowing the company to meet the customer’s needs effectively.

One option is to take a hybrid approach, says Sasi Koyalloth in a Wipro Ltd. white paper. A hybrid approach focuses on incorporating human agents into the digitization process, focusing on giving agents and employees the digital tools necessary for seamless communication throughout the organization.

Regardless of approach, “a single view of the customer is crucial,” says Robert Paterson at Afinium, noting that software as a service (SaaS) providers already exist with the tools and support needed to help P&C insurers move to a single platform for managing information.

And the systems’ cost needn’t be onerous. “Another key driver for adoption of SaaS solutions is its use in developing pricing models that can be directly related to system usage,” Paterson says.

Final Thoughts

The switch to digital is now or never for P&C insurers. Working with knowledgeable insurtech providers can help companies address concerns about data security, analysis and customer experience, allowing insurers to take full advantage of the digital world to build more personal and long-lasting customer relationships.

3 Ways to an Easier Digital Transformation

Across industries, digital transformation and cloud migration are forces to be reckoned with. Insurance is no exception.

As an industry accustomed to operating on legacy technology, insurers should approach the cloud migration process judiciously. But they should also know that moving all workloads to the cloud – even if incrementally – is necessary to keep up with evolving customer expectations.

The industry at large is receiving this message. Nearly 70% of insurers report they are somewhere along the journey to digitally transform their infrastructure, according to a report from Ensono and Forrester.

But the jump from mainframe to cloud shouldn’t take place overnight. By taking a methodical approach and prioritizing the right workloads, insurance technology teams can achieve a hybrid IT infrastructure that allows for improved operations at manageable costs. Here are three guidelines to follow as your insurance organization adopts a hybrid cloud strategy:

Prioritize which applications to move first

46% of insurers surveyed in the Ensono/Forrester study cited improving application performance as the most important IT change their company could make to augment customer engagement. But according to IBM, nine out of 10 of the world’s largest insurance companies still run on mainframes. Leaning on legacy technology alone makes it challenging to keep pace with application upgrades and customer expectations for speed and experience. Organizations that remain within a stand-alone legacy environment will have to rely on workarounds to keep upgrading their app performance, and these workarounds will only become more frequent and costly.

See also: Digital Transformation: How the CEO Thinks

However, moving all operations to the cloud and scaling up overnight isn’t a realistic ask of traditional insurers, either. The transition is expensive and takes months of planning and testing. Instead, insurance organizations should take things slower by prioritizing the applications that require the highest levels of performance as well as most external and third-party connectivity. The basic rule of thumb: Apps that are customer-facing should be at the top of your list.

Set yourself up with premium analytics

Quality data is central to understanding the needs of agents and customers, but legacy technology doesn’t allow for the best insights. Turning to a cloud or hybrid strategy increases an insurer’s ability to access top-notch, real-time data and analytics, as well as expand into emerging cloud offerings.

According to Ensono and Forrester, almost half of insurance decision makers use cloud platforms for advanced data analytics, and about 40% believe it’s important to expand their use of emerging cloud technologies like mobile or internet of things (IoT) and increase reliance on public cloud platforms for systems of engagement. Those systems of engagement need to connect seamless to systems of record.

Find the right partners

Data analytics clearly play a huge role in the benefits insurers can reap from a hybrid cloud strategy. But a full 100% of insurers admitted to facing data-related security issues, according to Ensono’s study. Whether this is due to outdated IT infrastructure or a lack of expertise, it’s unacceptable to put any data at risk, especially customer data.

The right partners can help keep your organization’s data secure while optimizing the right applications for cloud. Mainframes – a true foundation of the insurance business – aren’t going away in this process, but they won’t bear the whole burden any more, either. Legacy systems do have their perks, such as security and expense, but ultimately insurers need to ensure they have access to the expertise needed to help their businesses thrive in the cloud.

See also: 4 Rules for Digital Transformation

The transition to a hybrid IT environment requires re-engineered IT infrastructure, the use of real-time data and insights and the right talent – the kind that can create a flexible and competent IT strategy with a custom balance of legacy platforms and cloud environment. Partners like managed service providers (MSPs), migration services and consultants can make the process much smoother. Accessing third-party support also allows your organization to skip the stressful experience of hiring for internal tech experts in a talent economy suffering from an IT skills gap.

The push from customers for faster, better service in insurance continues. But dated infrastructure and an IT talent shortage is holding the insurance industry back. Digital transformation is the only way to achieve growing expectations, cloud migration being the core driver behind the progress. Insurers must thoughtfully design an infrastructure migration plan associated with their application strategy and seek the needed resources to help carry it out, thus ensuring a stabler as well as growing customer-backed future.

Strategies in 2018: The New Balancing Act

Senior executives at insurance companies, like their peers in other industries, are charged with developing and executing the right set of strategies that will lead to success. In years past, strategists at insurance companies have had at their disposal a relatively standard array of strategies to chose from, their job being to prioritize and balance the investments and resources devoted to each. Do we expand our distribution channel network? Put more focus on new products and services? Modernize our foundational policy, billing and claim systems?

These questions and others were the traditional types of questions that executives had to address. Those traditional areas are still important and must be part of the mix for modern insurer strategies. However, a new class of strategic initiatives has emerged that is growing in importance. Now, insurers must consider how to incorporate digital transformation, insurtech, emerging technologies and others into their business and technology strategies.

These “New World” initiatives are poised to reshape the insurance industry, and it is essential that every insurer build them into their plans. A sizable challenge ensues – combining the traditional strategic initiatives with these new world initiatives into just the right blend to make each company successful, today and in the future. This is the new balancing act that executives must tackle – and some may feel like they are teetering on a high wire.

SMA has been tracking the evolution of insurers’ strategic initiatives for many years. The changes in these initiatives paint a picture of an industry in transformation and are highlighted in a new SMA e-book, “Strategic Initiatives in Insurance, 2018 and Beyond.” The e-book covers the different paths that property/casualty and life/annuity insurers are taking and identifies how companies are prioritizing 12 strategic initiatives (five traditional, six new world and innovation, which spans the old and new).

Several interesting phenomena are occurring. For one thing, more and more executives consider their companies to be in transformation mode, actively trying to redesign and reshape the company for higher growth in the digital age. In addition, both innovation and digital have swept over the industry like a tsunami. About 90% of insurers have significant initiatives for digital transformation and corporate-wide innovation. CEOs feature their digital strategies and investments in their letters to shareholders and earnings calls with Wall Street financial analysts. Chief digital officers are a hot commodity in the industry. Regarding innovation, more insurers are trying to move beyond the early stages to create a broad-based culture of innovation that is sustainable and organic.

One other interesting development is the clear recognition that core systems must be modern to support the demands of a digital, connected world. Modern policy, billing and claim systems are the essential enablers that allow insurers to capitalize on the opportunities for new products, new channel partners, new business models and significant operational improvements.

See also: Strategies to Combat Barriers to Insurtech  

Finally, it is fascinating to observe the industry as it engages with insurtech and emerging technologies. Not that long ago, technologies like mobile and analytics were considered “emerging.” Now they are table stakes and supportive of a new class of technologies like artificial intelligence, drones, the Internet of Things and many more. The insurtech movement has exploded onto the scene, with well over a thousand startups relevant to the industry. The industry is increasingly engaging with insurtechs and exploring emerging tech, with each company prioritizing based on their lines of business and business models. This year – 2018 – is likely to be an exciting one for the industry as the transformation continues. Stay tuned for interesting developments as insurers execute on their strategic initiatives.

Click here for more information on SMA’s recent e-book, Strategic Initiatives in Insurance, 2018 and Beyond.

3 Great Apps for Insurance Agents

Insurance agents know that selling insurance is unlike selling anything else. Selling insurance means selling trust, selling promises and selling ideas. As an insurance agent, you know your clients trust your expertise and expect you to have their best interests at heart.

But even the best agents need something to make their jobs easier. That something, a lot of insurance professionals find, can be mobile applications. Here are three that have proven very popular:

1. DocuSign

The insurance industry still relies on a lot of paperwork. And it requires both insurance professionals and clients to sign a lot of documents. This is why the DocuSign app deserves a place on this list. It’s an e-signature app that you can use to sign documents online with your mobile device.

Statistics also show that a large number of insurance companies use e-signatures to sell their products. So, an app that makes this possible ought to be pretty useful for insurance professionals like yourself.

Here are some benefits of this app:

Sign legal documents immediately:  Any online documents can be signed and delivered in minutes instead of days.

Go completely paperless: With this app, you can send documents to be signed any time without having to rely on manual means to do so.

Available for different mobile platforms: The DocuSign app can be downloaded for free on iPad, iPhone, Windows and Android devices.

See also: Will Policies Break Down Into Apps?  

2. Go

For an insurance agent to succeed, he needs to know more than his clients do. In the case of car insurance, this can be information about legalities or current deals that are available for clients based on their current situations.

However, comparing insurance is a hassle that even the most experienced insurance agent want to skip. This is why the Go car insurance app on iTunes deserves a place on this list.

This app can help agents like yourself find the best car insurance for clients in seconds 60 seconds. The best part is that it can help you find packages that can actually save your clients money.

Here are other benefits:

Chat with a seasoned expert: Even insurance agents who go solo need advice from professionals who have been in the industry for a while. With the Go app, you can chat with agents who can give you tips on getting cheaper rates for your clients.

Why you should get it: The Go app was developed for the iPhone 6 Plus, SE, iOS 9 and even the Apple Watch. Reviews rave about the app’s easy-to-use interface.

3. CamScanner

Looking for the right financial packages and drafting agreements sometimes requires insurance agents to pore over countless technical and legal documents. With this app in your smartphone, you can capture images of documents like insurance agreements, policies and any other documents. You can:

Scan on the go: Think of CamScanner like a mini scanner that you can carry around with you and use whenever you come across an interesting document that can help you service your clients.

Convert images to PDF files: To email documents, you have to scan them first. And the whole process becomes incredibly tedious if you have to scan several documents at once or do so countless times.

Just take a picture of the document you want to scan, use auto cropping to remove unused edges and use the auto enhancing feature to make the image sharper. Then convert into a PDF file and share the file with clients or colleagues.

Get crystal-clear documents: The app takes pretty clear and crisp images that don’t blur even when you zoom into them. It has five enhancement modes that you can use to customize your scans and make them look more professional.

With this app, the scanning process is reduced to a few taps on your smartphone. It has options that allow users to send scanned documents via email and social media and to even upload them on third-party cloud services.

See also: 5 Insurance Apps to Download Today  

The proliferation of mobile tools is having a huge impact on business, and these three apps will help.

Reshaping Insurance Via ‘Convergence’

The world is at an inflection point, with emerging technologies poised to change every aspect of our lives and businesses. Exactly how each industry will be transformed and how insurance will be affected is difficult to predict. However, a number of key trends are gaining prominence, and the implications for insurance are so significant that they bear close watching. SMA’s recently released research report, 2017 Emerging Tech Landscape: Implications for Insurance, identifies those key trends and discusses the developments in eight emerging technologies that have big repercussions for insurance. Two trends, in particular, warrant special consideration:

Objects are moving from smart to intelligent.

The initial phases of “smart” saw many objects becoming smart and connected, such that their activity and the environment around them could be monitored and measured. Now, more things of the IoT are leveraging artificial intelligence to make recommendations and even to make decisions and take actions autonomously. This is true of vehicles, homes/buildings, wearables and many other areas.

Convergence: Insurance in 2017  

Convergence drives value.

The combination, or convergence, of multiple technologies, both new and old, is now underway in a quest to create new value for customers. Technologies such as the IoT, AI, mobile and cloud are being integrated in new ways to provide solutions to the problems of individuals and businesses.

Many emerging technologies are advancing so rapidly that keeping track of them all is a full-time job. The sheer number of companies, products and solutions based on emerging tech that are materializing every day is staggering.

These advancements and announcements will affect insurance in one of three primary ways. Some will enable operational efficiencies and processes, such as artificial intelligence, drones and blockchain. Others will offer new options for rethinking the customer’s experience. Wearables, the IoT and new payment technologies are examples of tech with important implications for customers.

The third manner in which emerging tech will alter insurance will be to change the very nature of risk. Many of these new technologies have great potential to reduce risks of all types for all lines of business. Alternatively, new risks are being introduced, some of which are visible and predictable, while others will be unexpected. Autonomous vehicles come to mind as an area with tremendous promise to reduce accidents. Robotics and wearables can also help remove individuals from unsafe environments or allow for rapid reaction when disaster strikes.

See also: The Great AI Race in Insurance Innovation

The insurance industry is not sitting idly by and watching these changes unfold. Insurers are investing, partnering, piloting, reorganizing and launching initiatives at a pace that is unprecedented in the industry. For example, 41% of insurers say they are actively pursuing partnerships outside the traditional industry boundaries. Innovation initiatives are widespread and have almost become table stakes. The industry is at the front edge of a major transformation, and emerging technologies are a big factor in driving and shaping the change that is underway.