Tag Archives: PolicyGenius

U.S. Healthcare: No Simple Insurtech Fix

I hadn’t worried much about U.S. health insurance in years, eight to be exact. I was interested, but not worried, because while I was living abroad I didn’t need it. Furthermore, I had a health insurance plan that covered me wherever I lived in the world. When I returned to the U.S. this past July, I was faced with buying an individual health insurance plan, which was something I’d never done (all my previous work experience in the U.S. gave me insurance as part of a group plan).

In August, I bought a policy with a carrier and used an agent.

As this is Open Enrollment season and I just purchased my first policy in the post-ACA world, I thought it would be a apt to talk a bit about the U.S. healthcare system and how I think insurtech can help. I will focus on three areas.

First is my experience with Open Enrollment this year (to, I hope, help some who are going through the same experience right now!). Second is areas that need to be considered when looking at U.S. health insurance. Third is a summary and ideas for insurtech startups.

Healthcare, especially U.S. healthcare, is very, very complex.  Hence, I will only dive into a few areas, and as usual, my recommendations at the end will be fundamental and principle-based.

While there are a lot of politics surrounding U.S. healthcare, I will endeavor to not touch on the political aspects (though through the reading you should understand my opinions on the current state of affairs).

Open Enrollment – How Open Is It?  

As of the writing of this article, I am in the final steps of selecting my plan for 2018.  If you are currently going through the Open Enrollment process yourself, I have included some links at the end of the article that are some great guides on the overall process (including one from Oscar for “solopreneurs”).

What follows, is my experience of preparing for Open Enrollment.

A few weeks ago, I received this in the mail:

And about a day later, an email from my agent that said this:

Well, neither one of these were very encouraging.

I started with the Covered CA website and PolicyGenius to do my search to see what carriers/plans were available.

As I went through both sites, I realized that I was going through a modified needs analysis (these questions were a combination of what I went through on both sites):

  1. How much am I willing to spend a month?
  2. How much of a deductible am I willing to have? (These two questions were followed by a lot of math playing between the variables of 1 and 2 on different scenarios.)
  3. Do I want to be able to book my own specialist, or do I care if I have a referral. Plus, do I want to have the ability to go out of network or not? (HMO or PPO?)
  4. Do I have any doctors whom I need to keep in my network? By the same token, which hospitals/doctors do I want in my network?

Regardless of the answers to 1, 2,  and 4, number 3 was the key: Do I want an HMO or PPO? Because I wanted a PPO, I had a whopping TWO carriers available to me.

See also: High-Performance Healthcare Solutions  

In addition to this, I think it’s worth it to mention that (I think) the US is the only developed country in the world that has a 2 month period of time in which one can purchase a health Insurance plan.

So much for ‘Open’ Enrollment…

As I was going through this process, I realized some of the biggest challenges with this whole thing

Some of the points that I mention below may seem like old news to many that have been dealing with US health Insurance since ACA came into effect.  Though, since this is my first time going through it, that is the case.

Hence, I will share what I think is wrong with US health Insurance and subsequently, how Insurtech may be able to help.   As mentioned earlier, this is not meant to be a political stance and I will focus on the fundamentals of Insurance as I go through this.

These are the a few key things wrong with the the current US health Insurance:

  1. It’s mandatory (if you’re not covered by a group plan)
  2. If one buys an individual plan – they may not choose the specific coverage that’s right for them (other than premium and deductible)
  3. There is no underwriting for it (it’s all guaranteed issuance)

While these things aren’t likely to change, it’s important to understand why these three pillars are here, because there are some guiding principles here which are meant to help individuals; namely 1) making it more affordable and 2) making it more accessible. There still may be some opportunities to shape US health Insurance within the current confines of the regulation, which will have to be adhered to as long as the current regulation is in form.

Aside from cost and access, what else needs to be looked at?

Some of the key areas to look at when it comes to health care are:

  1. Participants/Users – how to interact with them?
  2. Provider coverage – which doctors/hospitals will be ‘in network’/accessible to participants?
  3. Claims process – how can this be made easier?
  4. Treatment and monitoring – in addition to 2&3, how will ongoing monitoring be done?

This relates back to the triangle I had a few weeks ago and how all 3 parties needs need to be looked at when looking at the overall Insurance value chain (regardless of line of business):

Before I go into the summary, a quick note on Oscar.

I took a serious look at Oscar a consideration for my health Insurance.

Not only did I read through their policy and network coverages (as they were cheaper than every other network out there), but I did all the research on Oscar that I would do for any other start-up I would consider working with for my work outside of Daily Fintech.

I started with the Coverager Companies tab (especially the News tab, where I like to see to see their past reporting of the company which usually outlines the good, bad and ugly of the company itself).  I also read the Oscar Health Strategy teardown from CB Insights.  I read consumer reviews and even asked my doctors and their receptionists about dealing with Oscar.  I did not do this much research for any other company I was considering (even though there were only 2 PPO providers from my initial search, I still took a quick look at all 6 providers in California…).

Ultimately, I think they are really on to something and I salute them for going after such a big and complex area (both in terms of product line and geographic area of that line!).  I would encourage everyone to read the teardown above to see what some of their strategies are.  Tackling US health Insurance is no easy feat, and they did take a long term view as described below:

While I do like them and some of the things they are doing, the reviews are not up to scratch yet.  My guess is that the long term view somewhat backfired on them, as customer expectation for a product that is so highly despised by many would have to have a real good experience very early on.

I have had real good experience with my current carrier and they are the most well known/biggest in my state.  As such, I’ll likely need to stick with them.  Health Insurance is too important to try something new on in my opinion.

I do think Oscar is very well positioned for the future, and they have outlined their strategy clearly above.  Building of an Insurance company takes time.  Health is a whole other animal.  Health in the US…well, that’s just going right for the gullet.  But, if done right, it can be a big prize (not only monetarily, but also for the sanity and health of US citizens!).  I’ll definitely be keeping en encouraging watchful eye on them.

Summary: It’s Complicated…

As I was preparing for this article, I read a few posts on Daily Fintech last year from Amy Radin, which I encourage you to read in conjunction with this post.  I have included them at the end for easy reference.

In her first post, she mentions four lenses to look at when it comes to US health Insurance: ‘the health of the American people, marketplace trends, the role of regulation, and the players’.

In her second post, she mentions that ‘Incumbent health insurers are pursuing legacy tactics to compete in the ACA world: M&A…; increasing premiums …; and reevaluating participation in the public exchanges…

As well as ‘the root of user pain points can influence how plans are selected and health care is consumed’:

# 1 People don’t see value because they don’t understand what they are buying.

# 2 People are being held accountable for health decisions that they are not equipped to handle.

# 3 People don’t always make rational decisions.

Fast forwarding 15 months since her last posts, other than some slight changes announced earlier this year and the recent subsidy cuts, not much has changed in terms of health of Americans, incumbent tactics and pain points for users.

See also: Healthcare: Need for Transparency  

Currently, CVS and Aetna are working on a merger.  It is rumored that Amazon is trying to expand into pharmaceutical sales as well (not to mention it’s other Insurance aspirations).  It’s also no secret that Apple has been preparing itself for a run at health care too.  Are all of these in the name of helping out the customer or just trying to get a slice of a pie that is so huge that everyone in the tech industry can taste it?

Recommendations for Insurtechs

Given that current regulation is both stringent and has an unknown future, it can be challenging for Insurtech start-ups to know where to start.  However, here are a few areas where I think can help the US health Insurance value chain, irrespective of regulation:

  • Education – I know this seems like something basic, but shopping for health Insurance was a nightmare.  Policy Genius was good, but it didn’t have it all.  Also, since health Insurance is so complex, there needs to be something that makes it really easy for people to understand.  Aside from how the subsidies work, which can be a challenge in it of itself, the specific clauses, terms and coverages for health Insurance is really complex and the majority of the population would likely not understand it.
  • Blockchain – With such a wide variety of illnesses, coverages and benefits, blockchain make a ton of sense for health care.
  • P2P – I wrote a couple weeks ago that I didn’t think P2P could be useful for health Insurance.  As I wrote this article, I do see some benefits, especially with a model like Inspeer, may be able to help.
  • Ecosystems – I’ve been reading more about ecosystems lately as it relates to Insurance/Insurtech, specifically with some of the things being some in China. When it comes to health, look at Ping An and Good Doctor (see below for infographic too). Talk about user experience.  The value proposition (image) below says it all..the more this can be integrated for the user, the better.  Though it doesn’t come without it’s challenges:
    1. Wearables – how much will people trust Insurance companies with all of their ongoing health information?  This is a big debate when it comes to information asymmetry.  Those that are healthy and live healthy lifestyles will be happy to, and others, may not be.
    2. Integration with hospitals/doctors – This will enhance the customer experience greatly, both for ongoing monitoring of the health from their doctors as well as with the claims process.  I recently had a few check ups at various doctors, having to fill out loads of paperwork that asked the same questions, bringing my images with me wherever I went, and having to re-explain my history over and again was a bit cumbersome.  It would be nice if the paperwork process was easier, if all doctors in my network had all the information on me (not just the ones in the same hospital) and the claim processed could be seamless after treatment received.  Integrating all of this is not easy when the infrastructure is not there and legacy systems exist for all parties.

I know the motto of many entrepreneurs/founders out there revolves around solving challenging problems, so, despite my feelings at the moment about US health Insurance, I am confident about the future of it!!

This article was originally published on Daily Fintech.

Insurtechs: 10 Super Agents, Power Brokers

Insurers should aspire to give their agents and brokers superpowers. Superpowers? Think of the impact of speech-to-speech language translators that free you from having to learn foreign languages. Of GPS car navigators helping you find your way without knowing your way. Or of 3-D printers that enable consumers to produce their own products. Those kind of superpowers. Insurers can deploy technology to empower agents and brokers much more, leading to an even better experience and performance. For instance, by combining and integrating robo-adviser systems with human agents and brokers, insurers can deliver better conversations and higher customer satisfaction, which result in better advice and higher conversion rates. A hybrid model. The best of both world.

Connecting online customers with offline brokers and agents

Digitization changed the way people research and purchase products. More and more comparison sites enable customers to check prices and services with just a few clicks. Consequently, agents and brokers need to adapt. Yesterday’s tactics become less and less effective, in particular in view of ever increasing customer expectations. But complex insurance products still need extensive explanation, and trust in the insurer. This is where the human factor comes into play. In Germany, for instance, 59 percent of all insurances are researched online, but purchased offline (ROPO), according to a survey by Google and Zurich in 2016. For high value and complex insurance and finance products like health, mortgage and pension insurances, the ROPO share accounts for more than 75 percent of all sales.

Best of both worlds

The past decade has taught us that insurers need to manage the feelings side of their relationship with customers much better. But with new technologies primarily being used to digitize processes, insurers are in danger to become even less human.

Humans inject emotion, empathy, passion, creativity, they are able to smile and surprise, and can deviate from the procedure if needed, which algorithmic systems are unlikely to do at this stage. They have the ability to be kind, honest, friendly, generous, giving; someone who makes time for me, listens to me, keeps promises, goes the extra mile. These talents are essential parts of successful customer engagement. We believe that insurers should create the best of both worlds. By leveraging the latest technologies insurers can create smarter agents and empowered brokers.

See also: Insurtech: How to Keep Insurance Relevant  

Agent and broker empowerment

In this DIA Summer Read we included six insurtechs that insurers should team up with to revamp this channel. Each of these insurtechs supports the agent or broker in different stages of the primary process:

1. LifeDrip offers state of the art automated marketing tools to agents and brokers.

2. Predictivebid built building an advanced AI platform for online customer acquisition.

3. Finanzen.de created an online marketplace for leads.

4. Virado puts the insurance broker back in the middle with an on-demand offer for millennials.

5. RiskAPP allows agents and brokers to seamlessly collect data for risk analysis.

6. Figlo facilitates the conversation between brokers/agents and customers.

These six insurtechs have in common that they all give superpowers to agents and brokers. They give access to capabilities that used to be exclusive to large corporations. With the solutions offered by these insurtechs agents and brokers can move to a next level.

Next generation brokers

We also notice a new kind of broker emerging that taps into the needs of consumers and insurance carriers alike, leveraging to the max what digital has to offer. We included four of them in this DIA Summer Read:

7. Knip: the personal digital insurance manager.

8. SPIXII: an insurance chatbot designed to speak to consumers just as a person would.

9. Bought By Many: grouping together people with a special similar insurance need.

10. PolicyGenius: reveals the gaps and overlaps in your policies.

DIA Munich

Expect DIA Munich (15 and 16 November) to pay ample attention to insurtechs that make smart agents and power brokers.

Agent and Broker Empowerment

1. LifeDrip: The future of life insurance agent’s sales software

The world is going mobile but most insurance brokers and agents still use ‘old’ marketing methods to generate leads. It is time for something new and something smarter.

LifeDrip, launched by the Seattle based software company Xeddy, is a turnkey, fully automated mobile marketing system exclusively built for the life insurance agent. It provides monthly, custom branded email newsletters and an exclusive agent website for generating client reviews and feedback.

LifeDrip captures the fastest growing form of lead exposure, including Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn. It is done automatically and the contacts and the database are continuously synced. Agents don’t even have to think about it. LifeDrip offers a new way to generate leads at a fraction of the cost. The SEO website is registered with Google and built with responsive code so it is viewable on any mobile device. To maximize Social Media marketing exposure all the required content for Social Media Marketing and Email Newsletters is automatically generated and customized specific to the agent’s sales specialties. The Recommendation Engine generates dozens of powerful and real client recommendations. SplashTriggers notifies instantaneously when a prospect is ready to be contacted for the sale and what to sell them.

Read more: http://bit.ly/2vniEFD
Check demo: http://bit.ly/2irgVOG

2. Predictivebid: the bidding platform of the future for insurance

Predictivebid is a Tel-Aviv based tech company, building the most advanced AI platform for online customer acquisition through Search & Social campaigns based on Life Time Value Measurements. They excel in lead generation campaigns, lead quality analysis and lead potential scoring, thereby optimizing the lead process and helping companies lower their acquisition cost by providing higher quality leads with better life-time-value metrics. Predictivebid bridges the gap between online and offline, helping insurers capture consumers online and then directing them to book a meeting with their nearest and most relevant agents. The AI platform connects and tracks potential customers to the right agent nearest to them, based on their location and needs. A costumer can schedule a meeting with an agent, chat with an agent or even send his details so the agent can call him back.

Read more: http://bit.ly/2vdced1
Check demo: http://bit.ly/2wmpXC7

3. Finanzen.de: the marketplace for leads

Finanzen.de, located in Berlin, Paris, Zurich and Bristol, connects lead generators such as online price comparison sites with lead buyers such as independent financial advisers and insurance companies. More than 800,000 leads are annually traded via its industry leading technology platform, using real time auctions and real time lead delivery. The company also acts as an online broker for P&C insurance products. Thanks to its scalable business model, finanzen.de is ideally positioned to benefit from the digital shift occurring in the European insurance and banking domain and to capture the significant market potential ahead.

Founded in 2004, Finanzen.de is one of the oldest and at the same time one of the most successful InsurTech companies. Finanzen.de generates about one million online leads per year for more than 20,000 insurance experts and financial consultants. Finanzen.de informs consumers about insurance and finance topics and offers interested customers free access to the best possible advice. In the search for suitable offers, visitors can perform neutral tariff comparisons. If they find a suitable offer they can close a contract directly online or receive advice from audited and evaluated experts.

Read more: http://bit.ly/2nZAR9C
Check demo: http://bit.ly/2xrmr6j

4. Virado: One app. 250 niche product insurances for Millennials

German tech startup Virado is successfully creating new sources of income for insurance brokers. By offering 250 insurance products, mainly for niche policies on one platform. Targetting German Millennials. For example, insurance for an apartment share, DJ-equipment, or a travel backpack. These kind of products were not available for the insurance broker due to high connection and transaction costs of the insurer. The Virado all in one app for smartphones and tablet is based on Virado technology. The on-demand platform offers insurance brokers structured access to all insurances. Easy. Fast. Free.

Virado puts the insurance broker back in the middle. Millennials do not use a traditional insurance broker. They go online to find an insurance solution to fit their lifestyle. The on-demand platform Virado puts the insurance broker back in the middle by giving him the opportunity to not only protect but also to create new sources of income by serving the Millennials with insurance products they need. ‘On the spot’ insurance products will significantly increase the customer’s loyalty and customer lifetime. The tech startup offers also digital business expertise and the app is suitable for the insurance brokers homepage and its own social media channels.
Virado is completely free of charge and user-friendly. All the insurance broker needs to do is download the app and register.

Read more: http://bit.ly/2w23mbh
Check demo: http://bit.ly/2wmAGg5

5. RiskAPP: Risk assessment by agents and brokers

RiskAPP is a new Risk Assessment tool created to assist insurers globally. RiskAPP is a unique platform for structured data collection and integrated risk assessment. RiskAPP helps insurers to use captured data from their prospects and clients to sell and underwrite the risks wisely and profitably. The RiskAPP is a complete Risk Assessment tool for the insurer that wants to win his challenges.

RiskAPP delivers the most complete risk assessment possible. Through the platform the insurer can offer the most remunerative coverage program giving safety and peace of mind to insurance clients and the insurance carriers. The sales process is now smooth and seamless.

When the broker has the first meeting with a prospect, the RiskAPP data collection helps the broker to engage the client. The process follows with the technical inspection where the loss preventionist gathers further technical data that clearly describes the company. RiskAPP, thanks to its proprietary algorithm, processes the data collected and elaborates a detailed report included with automated loss protection recommendations. The insurer now has access to the most complete risk profile of the insured. RiskAPP enables analytics, portfolio management and helps in increasing the efficiency of risk selection.

Read more: http://bit.ly/2wDxoon
Check demo: http://bit.ly/2vnQtX4

6. Figlo: facilitating the conversation with customers

AEGON Turkey uses the Figlo platform to facilitate the conversation between brokers/agents and customers. A tablet app guides the complete conversation and gives a quick and tailored overview of the customer’s financial situation to select suitable products based on the client’s risk profile, to cover possible shortfalls. Uğur Tozşekerli, CEO AEGON Turkey: “Customer interaction and involvement as well as the possibilities for illustration and demonstration of the product benefits dramatically increased. From a customer point of view, using the app leads to better and more understandable advice, focus on the real customer needs and on top of that faster service. Straight through processing results in more efficiency and speed of delivery. Apart from a significant improvement of conversion rates the deal size increased between 10 to 45%, depending on the product category. At the same time the operational costs decreased by 18% due to decrease in rework and paperwork. The ROI was already positive in the first year of deployment.”

Quote is from our new book ‘Reinventing Customer Engagement’

Next Generation Brokers

7. Knip: The personal digital insurance manager

Knip is a ‘mobile-first’ digital insurance broker with a simple and transparent solution to insurance; bundling all the customers’ insurance products into one app. Even if these products are from different insurers. An easy-to-understand overview shows existing insurance policies, tariffs and services. One click opens an entire insurance policy. So the important information is always at hand. After an automatic analysis, new customers receive individual recommendations based on their existing insurance portfolio. Upon request, the Knip insurance experts offer professional consulting, analyze tariffs and services and detect individual savings and optimization potential. As the consultants receive a fixed salary and no commission whatsoever, they can provide independent and honest insurance advice. The app is designed to automatically detect individual’s insurance gaps and recommend essential insurance. Knip allows users to change their tariffs, close new insurance contracts and cancel old policies with a simple click.

Read more: http://bit.ly/2wxi65i
Check demo: http://bit.ly/2vXA7YK

See also: What Incumbents Can Teach Insurtechs  

8. SPIXII: Making insurance simple, accessible and personal for everyone

London based startup SPIXII is on a mission to make insurance simple, accessible and personal. It starts by redesigning the way people buy insurance. SPIXII, named after a family of Brazilian parrots that spell out the co-founder’s names, has almost entirely done away with the human component of selling insurance. It is an automated insurance agent, a chatbot accessible via messaging platforms or via a native mobile app. Its app creates a WhatsApp-like chat on a smartphone where a robot will ask simple questions and figure out what the user needs. Built on principles of neuro-economics and the integration of user data with contextual data from multiple sources, SPIXII is an insurance chatbot designed to speak to consumers just as a person would.

Read more: http://bit.ly/2xrFfT9
Check demo: http://bit.ly/2sxsubF

9. Bought By Many: grouping together people with a special similar insurance need

Bought By Many uses a combination of search engine optimization and social media to group together people who have similar insurance needs –such as diabetic travelers, pug owners or homeowners in flood risks areas. They present that group’s requirement to the insurance industry and negotiate on behalf of the group to bring them a better deal than they can get on their own. A better deal might be better pricing, it might be more tailored benefits, or it might be both. Once they bring the offer back to the group, individuals buy directly from the insurer on the better terms that Bought By Many negotiated for them. Creating a win-win for everyone. Insurers only write the risks that they want and members of Bought By Many get a better deal.

The company finds niche groups by looking at Google search data to see which niches have high volumes of search queries. There is also a data entry box on its website letting people submit their own policy ideas. They then validate those segments through social media and engaging with niche blogs, Facebook groups and other stakeholders. The site makes it easy for users to use social media and invite friends to join via Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and the like. Having established the market, the company works out the group’s specific requirements and then approaches the insurance companies to negotiate a deal on a policy.

Bought By Many suggests to insurers to split the usual broker fee in three parts: one third for the Bought By Many members to get a better benefit, one third for Bought By Many and one third for the insurance company, because Bought By Many want you to want to do this business.

Read more: http://bit.ly/2wmz8CB
Check DIA keynote CEO Steven Mendel: http://bit.ly/2v4hvrz

10. PolicyGenius: revealing the gaps and overlaps in policies

PolicyGenius for instance addresses the uncertainty of consumers with regard to gaps and overlaps in the various policies they have purchased over time. PolicyGenius offers a highly tailored insurance check-up platform, where consumers can discover their coverage gaps and review solutions for their exact needs. PolicyGenius’ online store includes solutions from life and long-term disability to pet insurance. Quoting engines offer side-by-side comparisons of tailored policies. PolicyGenius is backed by AXA Strategic Ventures and AEGON’s Transamerica Ventures. What would happen if AXA and AEGON would open up the PolicyGenius platform to all its brokers and agents in all countries she has a presence?

Read more in our new book ‘Reinventing Customer Engagement’.

Big Data? How About Quality Data?

While talking about data has become trendy — with terms like big data, small data, dirty data all good candidates for buzzword bingo — the reality is that, big or small, even if it is clean, data is useless unless it drives actionable insights.

Data is the foundational layer that underpins almost every industry, and it is a survival requirement for business today. Industries like retail, travel and finance have all tapped into the power of data to drive consumerization. And, while the health insurance sector may have fallen behind these industries, it is catching up, as today’s health insurance consumers are demanding actionable information in the form of choice, transparency and simple user experiences.

The good news is that innovators in the space are responding to these consumer demands by creating ground-breaking tools — tools that leverage modern technology, powerful software design and quality data. Today’s health insurance innovators are making waves in the insurtech industry by building products and features that truly solve consumer pain points.

So, who are these innovators? What are they creating? And why is the underlying data so crucial?

Who are the innovators?

According to CB Insights, $1.7 billion was invested in insurtech in 2016. Essentially, the insurtech category encompasses all new technologies, companies, apps and business models that are pushing to revolutionize the insurance industry itself. And, thanks to advances in technology and funding, this category is seeing rapid growth.

See also: Why to Refocus on Data and Analytics 

Jump Capital recently pulled together its view of the movers and shakers that are disrupting the insurance industry. With so many new vendors in the market, it is safe to say that there is definitely a lot of moving and shaking going on in insurtech.

These companies are finding different ways to meet consumer demands and remove the complexity associated with the insurance industry. The companies included in the healthcare segment of this infographic are, for the most part, delivering new ways to help consumers find, buy and receive health insurance. Collectively, health insurtech platforms answer a consumer cry for help. But none of these platforms are functional, let alone useful, without a foundational layer of quality data on which to build.

What are the innovators creating?

Health insurtech innovators are working to answer a variety of consumer demands. They’re creating tools that simplify the health insurance shopping experience. Tools that help doctors find prescription drugs that are covered by a patient’s insurance plan. Tools that help consumers find doctors that are in-network. The problems that these platforms solve are many.

Here are just a few examples of innovative tools and features being created to deliver value to health insurance consumers:

1. Decision Support Tools for the Individual Market

A variety of web-based entities (WBEs) have popped up to help individual consumers find and purchase a health insurance plan that is right for them. PolicyGenius is a good example of an innovative platform doing just that. The company prides itself on delivering simple benefits that are personally designed for the individual. A consumer enters a few bits of information, and PolicyGenius recommends health insurance plans for that individual — all delivered through a seamless digital experience.

2. Analysis Tools for the Small Group Market

Certain broker-facing platforms are starting to build analytical tools that help strengthen group health plan recommendations. These tools allow platforms to compare and contrast different health plans, including each plan’s network, aiding in disruption analysis and delivering value to their employer customers.

3. In-Network Provider Search and Notification Features

Many health insurtech platforms offer customers provider-network search and notification features. Stroll Health, for example, delivers personal recommendations for imaging centers based on a patient’s insurance plan. And some HR and benefits administration platforms now have the ability to notify employees if an employee’s preferred doctor drops out of network. Thoughtful features like these save consumers time and money.

See also: Next Step: Merging Big Data and AI  

Why is the data so crucial?

While data may not be the sexiest element of a tech platform, the data layer enables all features. For example, for those broker-facing analysis tools to be useful, the broker platform must have access to accurate and timely data on the benefits and rates of every health plan they’ll compare. For an HR and benefits administration platform to alert an employee when a doctor drops out of network, the platform must first know when that doctor drops out of network. This means the platform must have access to an accurate and extremely granular database of providers in the specific network being tracked. Quality data is what informs today’s innovators, pushing them to take action and build exciting applications that solve real problems.

Health is a complex space, but there are many brilliant minds working to improve the health insurance industry. Putting the right data into the hands of these innovators allows them to do what they do best — solve problems with creative technology solutions. Continuing to do this will allow today’s innovators to respond to consumer pain points and transform the health insurance industry.

10 Insurtechs for Superb Engagement

We have written about the key challenges that insurance carriers are facing. Winning insurtechs are those that tap into these challenges to accelerate digital transformation. In this post, we’ll focus on the first of seven different flavors of winners in fintech insurance: insurtechs that drive superb customer engagement.

Customer engagement leaves much to be desired

Most insurers still have low Net Promoter Scores. In spite of all the efforts and investments in the last years, customers continue to experience a lot of friction throughout the customer journey. And what is even more challenging, rising consumer expectations are more and more difficult to meet. The frame of reference is set, not by the service offered by other insurers, but by what customers experience when they reach out to other brands, for instance when using their smart phone.

See also: Core Systems and Insurtech (Part 1)  

There are a bunch of reasons why customer engagement is the first flavour we are exploring in this blog series. We believe customer engagement is the key to turning digital transformation efforts into a lasting competitive advantage:

  1. Customer engagement is the key to build trust
    This is what research told us: Trust is built by excelling in the daily provision of services. Touch point performance, the perceived quality of customer-facing employees, the ease of doing day-to-day business are the most important elements in building or reinforcing trust.
  2. Customer engagement offers new points of differentiation
    Because virtually every financial institution is simplifying its product range and individual products, it will become increasingly difficult to differentiate from competitors on a product level.  Consequently, the points of differentiation of financial services will shift to the way the company engages with customers, e.g. in service and customer experience.
  3. Service is becoming a much more important purchase driver
    In the past, you shared your thoughts and experiences with your neighbors over your backyard fence. Nowadays, people exchange their thoughts and experiences also over a virtual fence powered by smart phones and social media. Peer-to-peer information sharing is almost always about the service quality. This has a huge impact on our decision-making. We are less and less choosing solely on price any more; more and more we are — within a certain price bracket — choosing on service. Service is becoming a much more important purchase driver.
  4. Lack of customer engagement results in loss of value
    Every day, thousands of insurance and financial products are purchased that do not completely match the needs of the customer. The cancellation rate in life insurance is proof of this. Sunk costs include billions of euros in intermediation costs and, even more importantly, of course, huge loss of value for customers.
  5. Customer engagement is a primary source of profit
    Ample research shows that customers who have had real positive experiences will drive revenues and profit in a variety of ways. They are more open to other products of that company. They will be less sensitive for offers from competitors. The costs to serve will decrease. And the customers are more likely to advocate your services to friends and family.
  6. New entrants set new standards to engagement
    Not all new entrants will survive, but they will definitely set new standards. Despite the fact that they differ quite a lot in nature, they have one thing in common. Every new entrant is attacking the frictions and complex processes that customers have to deal with when working with financial institutions. Incumbents need to step up to the plate to keep up.
  7. Regulators scrutinize how the industry engages with customers
    During the first couple of years “after Lehman,” the various supervisory authorities have focused on the way money was made, and the quality of financial products. We now see that that focus has widened to just about every aspect of customer engagement: sales, advice, service, even advertising. Regulators are forcing insurers to have a 360-degree view of customer engagement to treat customers fairly.

Address the pain points

The challenge is to close the gap between the insurer and the customer. Moving from transaction to interaction, from one-way communication to a dialogue and from interaction to intimacy, taking the dialogue from exchanging information to actions.

Too often, customer engagement is mistaken for creating a Disney-like experience. We think the opportunities are much closer to home. In our work for insurers, we have learned that customers across the globe more or less experience the same pain points:

  • “They do not really know me. They do not understand my situation.”
  • “I am not convinced they act in my best interest.”
  • “They do not treat me nicely. I don’t think they would walk the extra mile.”
  • “Their information confuses me.”
  • “They don’t make it easy for me.”
  • “I am not sure what I’m covered for and what the overlap with other policies is.”
  • “It is not clear what the status of my claim is.”
  • “I am not sure what I am exactly paying for; it seems very expensive.”
  • “It takes ages to get an answer. And too often I’m not getting any.”
  • “What the call agent says is different from what the broker told me.”
  • “They don’t treat me fairly.”

Just imagine what would be accomplished in terms of customer engagement if all these pain points were solved.

Furthermore, insurance is still about averages, products, one-size-fits-all, paper, brokers and agents – which is not always in sync with changing customer preferences and what technology is able to. In fact, we notice that customer engagement technologies that are widely accepted in other industries are still hardly used in insurance.

Take the use of video. Research shows that only 7% of a conversation is about words, 38% is about tone of voice and 55% is about body language. We have seen quite a few successful WebEx implementations; e.g. bank employees who assist customers in the complex process of purchasing a mortgage, with application-to-proposal conversion rates increasing from 10% to 35%, and proposal-to-signed contract from 50% to 75%.

Another no-brainer is the use of YouTube channels to explain what customers should do when a particular event takes place. These channels are extremely effective to explain more complex consumer electronic products but are hardly used in insurance. Think of the application of social data to simplify the underwriting and onboarding process of new customers and consequently higher conversion rates, or to login to certain information to simplify the customer experience. Or take the poor state of FAQs at many insurers’ websites, while a company such as Zendesk is able to launch a tailored state-of-the-art solution in just a few weeks and at very low costs.

The Tripolis communication platform allows companies to take personalization to a next level, deploying real-time relevant dynamic content in, for instance, email campaigns. Customers receive personalized real-time information and offerings that anticipate their context, the time of day, where they are – not when the email is sent, but at the moment the email is opened. Obviously, this improves the impression of a one-to-one intimate relationship with the brand. While the use of such solutions is increasing fast in other industries; this is hardly the case in insurance.

Fortunately, more and more insurtechs are helping insurers to make a leap in customer engagement, to become much more effective in every step of the customer journey.

And, of course, we also see new entrants that are attacking specific frictions, complex processes and product and pricing imperfections that customers have to deal with when working with insurance companies. Trendwatching.com coined the term Clean Slate Brands: a whole new breed of exceptional new brands living by the rules of business 3.0 — newer, better, faster, cleaner, more open and responsive. Brands that consumers are therefore attracted to, also because they cannot have sinned yet.

See also: Insurtech: Unstoppable Momentum  

A line-up of 10 insurtechs that drive superb customer engagement in various stages of the customer journey:

PolicyGenius addresses the uncertainty of consumers with regard to gaps and overlaps in the various policies they hava purchased over time. PolicyGenius offers a highly tailored insurance check-up platform, where consumers can discover their coverage gaps and review solutions for their exact needs. PolicyGenius’ online store includes solutions from life and long-term disability to pet insurance. Quoting engines offer side-by-side comparisons of tailored policies.

Trov offers customized home insurance by allowing coverage of individual key items rather than a one-size-fits-all coverage set with average amounts. An app-based platform allows customers to discover and track the real-time value of their belonging. They simply upload the items they own to a digital locker, by scanning a product UPC code, entering an auto VIN number or a home address or looking up individual items in an in-app database. Trov (backed by leading fintech VC Anthemis) has partnered with a wide variety of proprietary data sources like Zillow (U.S. real estate), Blackbook (U.S. autos) and Symantics3 (global consumer products).

Erste Digital taps into the fast-growing use of social media and mobile to purchase products and services – quite neglected by traditional insurance companies. Erste Digital is a B2B digital broker platform selling “add on” insurance. The Scan2Insure mobile app allows customers to scan a barcode to instantly get a quote to insure the product. To sell through social media channels, Erste Digital has integrated the platform into YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook.

BIMA offers micro-insurance in 14 emerging markets in Africa, Latam and Asia, using a mobile-delivered model. Traditional insurance companies find it difficult to service those living on less than $10 per day. And that is a shame, because insurance is a powerful tool that can prevent families from falling back into poverty in case of illness and injury. BIMA gives customers access to micro-insurance that is paid for using prepaid mobile credit or postpaid billing. Policies start from $0.23 per month, and BIMA pays out within three days of receiving a claim. Today, BIMA serves more than 18 million customers.

Recently, BIMA decided to enter the health sector. In emerging markets, people need to travel far and spend many hours in waiting rooms to see a physician. BIMA’s mobile health services make it easy, quick and affordable to access medical advice from a qualified doctor via a tele-doctor service. Memberships are available in three, six or 12 month pre-paid packages and include an unlimited number of phone consultations with a qualified doctor for the whole family.

More about BIMA’s fascinating business model in one of our next posts.

Cuvva introduced a mobile app that enables the user to sign up, get a quote and buy coverage in less than 10 minutes. Quite different than what customers have to experience when they apply at the average insurance firm. Basically, a completely digital experience run from a smartphone. What is also addressing a customer need is that Cuvva gets customers covered for only as long as they need it; from a single hour to a whole day – rather than the usual single option of a year.

Another imperfection, at least in the eyes of customers, is the costs of deductibles. insPeer allows users to share insurance deductibles with their friends and family members.

Collision damage waiver and loss damage waiver on rental vehicles are also always expensive. Insuremyrentalcar provides the solution with a package that starts from $5 a day to $93.99 a year.

Embroker says it aims “to revolutionize the way businesses buy, manage and understand insurance.” The company combines the service and expertise of the best-in-class brokers with an innovative technology platform. The 100% online solution allows customers to optimize insurance spending with policy benchmarking tools and provides a real-time interface to track and manage claims, apart from many other beneficial features.

Claim Di and Snapsheet are both all about making the most important moment of truth of a car insurance, when an accident takes place and the claim process that follows, less of a hassle.

The Claim Di mobile app “shake and go” feature facilitates communication and claims between parties in an auto accident and their insurance companies. The drivers can shake the phone near the phone of another party who also uses Claim Di, allowing for an insurance claim without waiting for a surveyor from their respective insurance companies to arrive at the scene (which is common practice in Thailand). Claim Di also includes roadside assistance, a call service for insurance companies and a module to facilitate payment to claimants.

Snapsheet provides insurers the process and technology to optimize virtual claims operations. Claims adjusters get the tools they need to provide a seamless experience; a mobile solution enables customers of insurers to settle a claim completely virtually. The solution simplifies claims adjusting, reduces the cycle time and increases customer satisfaction. Consequently, Snapsheet’s solutions are transforming claims organizations into a customer-first experience and cost-efficient operation.

Bauxy’s offerings takes away hassle and frustrations in a very different way. They enable consumers to file their claims just by taking a photo of the invoice. No more queuing on the phone to talk with insurance company call agents, asking when the money will be reimbursed and getting frustrated in the process. Bauxy submits the claim on the consumer’s behalf.

What these insurtechs have in common is that they cut two ways. On the one hand they solve frictions and dramatically improve customer engagement. On the other hand, they simultaneously improve operational efficiency. In our view, this is what makes an insurtech a winner.

In our next post we will focus on the second flavor of winners in fintech insurance; insurtech solutions for dramatic cost savings. So stay tuned!

The New Insurance Is No Insurance

Insurers are aware that technology will help to reduce claims drastically and therefore finally run premiums down to unsustainable levels.

Time to move on

“Insurance is a cornerstone of modern life. Without insurance, many aspects of today’s society and economy could not function. The insurance industry provides the cover for economic, climatic, technological, political and demographic risks that enables individuals to go about their daily life and companies to operate, innovate and develop.” Source: Insurance Europe

I fully support this, but the way this cornerstone fits into modern life needs attention. It’s time to move on.

See also: Insurance Coverage Porn  

The Third Wave

Twenty years ago, I set up the first digital insurance. Ten years ago, I set up (again the first) mobile insurance Now we’re heading for the third wave: connected insurance.

Real connected insurance with the new opportunities that technology brings is what I (with a few former colleagues) believe in and have been working on for some time now.

Of course: “IoT,” “data science,” “AI,” “customer-centric” and “on-demand” are the buzzwords. But let me add two: “holistic” and “transversal.”

“Holistic” refers to the complete modern household with a connected lifestyle and “transversal” to the consumer who is completely not interested in our industry verticals.

Insurance has to stay but with an overall and fresh approach. Hundreds of insurtech initiatives are currently taking pieces and add sometimes compelling features. See the Sherpa-Neos-Interpolis-Trov-CBien-Metromile-Vitality-Clark-Knip-PolicyGenius-Lemonade-Inshared-like initiatives.

The real challenge is to bring it all together to a compelling, simple, transparent and engaging full service offer to the customer.

Focus on prevention

The new insurance is no insurance — meaning the focus should not be on pushing insurance products but on offering prevention services.

For this we developed an international concept for smart protection called InConnect, with the household as hub connecting all smart devices, vehicles and wearables and with technology and data used to improve prevention.

Safety and Peace of Mind

Unbiased personal risk management tools (Primes) help reduce insurance to what is really needed in one universal personalized policy without redundancies and gaps, dynamically adjusted to the actual situation and needs with:

  • On-demand add-ons
  • Built-in loyalty and reward system
  • Ready connections for sharing cars, rides and homes
  • Easy combining or splitting households
  • Privacy and cyber risk recognized

and backed with a one of a kind insurance and claims IT platform.

Startup

The overall concept is quite ambitious. Although we’ve successfully done ambitious businesses before and have qualified people and technology on our side, we’ll start on a controllable scale. A startup will kick off in three European countries with home, motor and travel.

As soon as we’ve completed our search for the right partners, we’ll start proving the concept, do the learning and keep you posted. Of course we’re always looking for enthusiastic and good individuals. Feel free to give me a buzz.

See also: The Insurance Model in 2035?  

Finally

Insurers are experts in risk and capital management, and that is what they should keep doing, but in a different perspective. Deploy that expertise in the new environment of connected lifestyles.