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How AI Is Redefining Insurance Industry

The insurance industry has operated with great consistency and clear processes for many years. People may not always like or agree with how things work, but nearly everyone from the consumer to the provider essentially goes with it — no uprisings to drive change, no big shakeups. That is until recently. Seemingly all of a sudden, artificial intelligence (AI) is infiltrating the insurance industry, which may be a bit scary to those devoted to long-established practices.

In reality, we are witnessing relatively quick developments and sparks of innovation, considering the overall life cycle of the insurance industry. And what AI offers — now and promises to in the future — is anything but scary. It’s actually quite exciting as the industry enters a truly transformative period that will result in greater efficiency, significant cost savings, and far better service and care.

What Constitutes AI

AI has become one of the biggest buzzwords in the tech landscape, so I want to define what it really means, particularly as it pertains to the insurance industry. AI is a computerized system that exhibits behavior that is commonly thought of as requiring human intelligence. Taking this a step further, it essentially translates to machines acquiring a certain level of “human-ness” so that interactions with software become more like interactions with real people. It also mandates that a system has the ability to learn and improve on its own.

Advances in AI come because of a number of factors, but, undoubtedly, consumer-based technologies have led the charge. Voice, machine learning, computer vision and deep learning have been refined in consumer products, services and platforms, but they are now being combined to create really powerful automated solutions for some of the biggest issues organizations face.

See also: 4 Ways Machine Learning Can Help  

Specific to the insurance industry, novel AI-based applications can shift the workforce and advance what companies are able to assess and offer as well as how quickly they can do it. And this is just over the short term. McKinsey predicts that AI “has the potential to live up to its promise of mimicking the perception, reasoning, learning and problem solving of the human mind. In this evolution, insurance will shift from its current state of ‘detect and repair’ to ‘predict and prevent,’ transforming every aspect of the industry in the process.”

The Rise of Insurtech

This may sound a bit abstract and futuristic, but AI advances have already led to a whole new market segment: insurtech. A slew of new companies have popped up, showcasing strong growth by bringing AI and machine learning to market with the industry’s very specific and nuanced needs in mind. For example, Cyence, which was acquired by Guidewire Software, developed a platform to ascertain the financial impact of cyber risk and management of risk portfolios; and Cape Analytics provides a service to property insurers that combines AI and geospatial imagery to analyze property and streamline the underwriting process — and these are just two examples. Other AI-based companies have emerged to reduce costs in claims operations, identify various insurance protection options, and transform mobile and social media marketing for insurance companies.

The insurtech segment is not defined by new players alone. Several incumbents have also dipped their toes into the AI waters to develop innovative applications. State Farm developed Distracted Driver Detection that uses dashboard camera images. Allstate has ABIE, a virtual assistant to help agents with information regarding Allstate’s commercial products, and Progressive now applies machine learning on top of data collected from client drivers through the “Snapshot” mobile app.

What Does It All Mean?

First and foremost, the rise of insurtech indicates that the insurance industry is changing profoundly as it modernizes. The ability to analyze countless data points in mere seconds opens ways to assess and predict that humans simply cannot hope to accomplish. This does not mean that humans are no longer needed in the industry. Quite the contrary. People still possess higher-level thinking skills that machines are not equipped to gain. The capacity to factor in intangibles, to make judgment calls, to see and interpret what lies beyond the screen — these are human skills that will always be in demand.

See also: Key Challenges on AI, Machine Learning 

In this light, AI and machine learning applications should be leveraged to streamline and better inform the decisions that humans must make. When this happens, workers are freed to focus on the facets of their jobs that matter the most. In addition to benefits to workers, organizations experience multiples of improvement in cost savings by increased efficiency, accuracy and better predictions generally. Simultaneously, customer service and patient care improve by providing answers and resources tailored to their specific case in a fraction of the time.

Perhaps the most exciting impact of insurtech, however, will be the new business models that arise. The notion of how we administer care will change, as will the way we construct policies for individuals and companies. Essentially, what has never been possible before is suddenly on the table. The options may appear overwhelming or even threatening to the existing way of life, but AI and insurtech have arrived. The advancements that will occur over the next decade will be extraordinary for all constituents. Pay attention and embrace the innovation long needed in the insurance industry.

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.

Does Amazon Threaten Home Insurers?

Amazon has made no secret of its intent to disrupt virtually every industry on the planet, most recently announcing a partnership with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway to create an independent healthcare company. Reportedly, the retail giant has also begun to explore the idea of setting up an insurance price comparison site in the U.K.

The formula is now clear. Amazon and other consumer-first digital disruptors like Google set their sights on a conventional industry with aging distribution and marketing channels, then things start to change rapidly. With an insurtech revolution already starting to brew in the home insurance marketplace, how long will it be before the likes of Amazon and Google enter the market in a serious way? And, if they do, will customers welcome them?

While industry incumbents like State Farm, Allstate and Progressive have begun to speculate on potential scenarios for this kind of digital disruption, J.D. Power’s P&C insurance industry practice went right to the source – the consumer – to ask how real home insurance customers would feel about the presence of tech companies in this space.

Following were the key findings from the J.D. Power Pulse Survey:

20% of Consumers Would Use Amazon or Google for Home Insurance

The data revealed that 20% of consumers would use an Amazon or Google for their home insurance. Millennials showed even higher interest at 33% for Amazon and 23% for Google. Of those who indicated that they would be willing to switch, 80% currently have insurance with a large national carrier.

See also: What if Amazon Entered Insurance?  

75% of Consumers Interested in Home Telematics

While most of the media’s attention has focused on the future of automation technology in automobiles, the disruption to your home experience – and by extension your home insurance – through smart home technologies is likely to have an equal or greater impact.

Smart home technologies are revolutionizing many areas of the home, from simple comfort features that can now turn lights on and off or access in-home entertainment by control of your phone to home security and emergency support with automatic shutoffs and alerts.

The insurance industry wants in on the action. Insurers see smart home technologies as an opportunity to deepen their relationships with customers, while improving home coverage options and underwriting. While leading home insurance carriers have begun to venture into these areas, not much research has been done to understand the consumer’s demand as these features become available. Based on the J.D. Power Pulse Survey, following are insights into the current consumer appetite for this type of technology:

  • Top areas for insurtech disruption: Among consumers polled, following are the top area of their relationship with their home insurance provider that needs the greatest improvement:
    • Product Options/Coverages – 20%
    • Underwriting Sophistication – 15%
    • Claims – 14%
  • Top insurtech technologies: Among consumers polled, following are the top technologies consumers are most excited about coming to the insurance industry:
    • Cybersecurity – 36%
    • Blockchain – 25%
    • Internet of Things (IoT) – 24%
  • 75% of consumers are interested in home telematics. While the bulk of talk on telematics has been focused in the automotive space, home insurance customers are overwhelmingly interested in getting discounts on their homeowners insurance for proper home maintenance and security.
  • 46% of consumers would be willing to allow their home insurance company access to smart home sensor technology in appliances, such as refrigerators and air conditioners to help prevent loss and malfunction (smart tech loss prevention). 56% of consumers who currently have “smart” tech in their home would allow access

See also: 5 Misunderstandings on Home Insurance  

  • 34% of consumers would likely switch to a home insurance company that offered smart home technology loss and protection options:
    • 57% of millennials would likely switch
    • 40% of consumers who currently have “smart” tech in their home would be likely to switch (64% of consumers reported having some sort of smart tech in their home, such as a smart thermostat, doorbell, etc.)

New Power Shift in P&C Insurance

P&C insurance carriers have witnessed a lot of changes in the past decade, but few have been as surprising as the shift of power currently taking place across the industry.

According to Dennis Chookaszian, the former CEO and chair of CNA, carriers maintain only 40% of profits today, representing a drop of 20 to 25 points from the 1960s. An equal share now goes to the distribution system, as carriers line up to acquire and maintain more customers.

What’s behind this shift in profitability can’t be summed up in a single word, but increasing competition, new market entrants, improving technology, changing customer expectations and continued consumer price sensitivity all play a role.

To remain competitive, carriers will need to gain more control over distribution, a goal that even Chookaszian admits will not be easy to achieve.

Why the Power-Shift Toward Distribution

In the mid-part of the last decade, insurance carriers required two primary competencies to operate: data and capital. Because neither was easy to acquire, competition was less robust, and incumbent carriers found greater profitability, taking in roughly two-thirds of insurance transaction profits.

Today, data is everywhere, and through the use of analytics, simpler than ever to understand and use. Capital is also easier to acquire, as is evidenced by the growing number of insurtech players in the industry. According to Willis Towers Watson, $2.3 billion was invested in new insurance tech companies in 2017.

According to Chookaszian, the core competency for insurers now lies in distribution and control of the customer.

“It’s become so competitive that the carriers basically are always out looking for new accounts,” Chookaszian says.

That means higher commissions are paid to agents as carriers battle it out for market share, resulting in shrinking margins.

“Given the shift in profitability to distribution, the carriers that will be better off will try to regain some control over distribution,” Chookaszian says.

Admittedly, that is not an easy thing to do. The agent enterprise is part and parcel of most insurance operations. Directly selling insurance to consumers will require insurers to set up their own distribution systems, while still supporting their vast networks of independent or captive agent forces.

See also: The Future of P&C Distribution  

Distribution Goes Digital

When Benjamin Franklin started the first successful U.S.-based insurance company in 1752, he was dealing with a localized Philadelphia population, but, by the end of the 18th century, citizens were moving westward, making it necessary for insurers to expand their distribution networks.

The Hartford made the first foray into direct distribution by offering insurance through the mail, but few consumers of the time were willing to give up the personal services of an agent when it came to purchasing something as critical as insurance. Carriers of the time faced a similar dilemma as carriers do today: how to acquire customers in a changing marketplace.

According to the J.D. Power 2018 US. Insurance Shopping Study, insurers are aggressively courting customers with new options and amenities as auto insurance rates remain stagnant and the number of consumers seeking coverage declines.

“We’re entering an era of consumer-centric insurance that will likely be marked by a surge in new digital offerings and serious efforts by insurers to improve the auto insurance shopping experience,” says Tom Super, director of the property and casualty insurance practice at J.D. Power.

This shift is happening across all lines of coverage, even small commercial.

While citizens on the new 17th-century frontier may have been hesitant to buy coverage without the guidance of an agent, many 21st-century buyers have no such qualms. Nearly half of consumers responding to a survey conducted by Clearsurance said that they would purchase an insurance policy online, while 65% believe this will be the primary channel for purchasing coverage within the next five years.

According to research conducted by Accenture, consumers are open to a number of new possibilities when it comes to buying the policies they need:

Power in the form of profits may have shifted to distribution, but consumers are making a power play of their own, demanding greater service and amenities and taking their business to the carrier most capable of meeting preferences and price points. In a world of shifting power, creating an active, online distribution channel puts more of the profit back into the carrier’s bottom line and allows it to attract more customers in three distinct ways.

Cutting Transaction Costs

According to a report from the Geneva Association, the leading international insurance think tank for strategically important insurance and risk management issues, 40% of P&C premiums are absorbed by transaction costs, leading to inflated policy pricing that drives away potential customers. PwC pegs distribution as a heavy culprit, reporting that 30% of the cost of an insurance product is eaten up in distribution.

On the other hand, Bain predicts that insurers could cut the cost of acquisition by as much as 43% through digitalization. Underwriting expenses could drop as much as 53%.

Reducing these costs allows insurers to present a more attractively priced product to consumers, an important consideration given that 50% of customers base their loyalty with an insurer on price.

To understand how costs are reduced through digital distribution, it helps to understand how a leading digital distribution platform works to raise efficiency. According to PwC, up to 80% of the underwriting process can be consumed by administrative tasks that require manual workarounds, such as re-entering information into multiple systems.

Much of this re-inputting of data is due to the siloed nature of insurers’ administration systems. Digital distribution platforms create a layer between the front-end online storefront, where customers enter application data, and the back-end systems used to store information.

As consumers enter their personal details into the online application, all back-end systems are populated automatically, eliminating the need for manual work-arounds. Everyone across the organization has the same view of the customer and access to any information that has been provided.

Digital platforms are also masters of straight-through processing, automating the quote-to-issue lifecycle and reducing the need for manual underwriting. By automatically quoting, binding and issuing routine policies, insurers reduce costs and also provide a more “informed basis for pricing and loss evaluation,” according to PwC.

As costs drop, insurers are also able to more competitively price insurance coverage. Lower prices win more customers allowing insurers to take back some of the profitability of distribution.

Improving Customer Experiences

When it comes to insurer-insured relationships, there is a gap between what consumers want and what insurers provide. Consumers rate the following points as very important aspects of the insurance buying experience:

  • Clear and easy information on policies
  • Access to information whenever it is needed
  • Ability to compare rates and switch plans
  • A wide range of services

But few consumers agree their insurer is meeting these expectations:

27% see clear and easy information on policies

29% report access to information whenever they need it

21% say there is the ability to compare rates and switch plans

24% see a wide range of services

The customer experience is becoming a key differentiator across the insurance industry. McKinsey reports two to four times higher growth and 30% higher profitability for insurers that provide best-in-class customer service, but here’s the rub. Only the top quartile of carriers fall into this category.

Becoming a customer experience leader requires insurers to understand that the separate functions associated with policy sales and distribution appear as a single journey to consumers. They expect to quote, bind and issue multiple policies through a single application, using as many channels as they feel necessary to get the job done.

While 80% of consumers touch a digital channel at least once during an insurance transaction, 45% of auto insurance shoppers use multiple channels when making a purchase. They expect to be recognized across these channels, picking up in one where they left off in another.

The multiple back-end systems employed by most insurers present a strategic dilemma here, as well as in the area of cost containment. Without transparency between channels, consumers are forced to restart a transaction every time they change their engagement method.

“It amounts to a great deal of frustration for the consumer,” says Tom Hammond, president U.S. operations, BOLT. “You start an application online and then call the customer-facing call center, and they can’t see what you did through the online storefront.”

Hammond explains that digital distribution needs to be omni-channel distribution, seamlessly integrated with a single view of the customer. It’s the only way to meet consumer experience expectations now and into the future.

Thanks to advances in analytics and artificial intelligence, the amount of data that is available to carriers has grown significantly, and consumers expect that information to be leveraged for their benefit. Eighty percent of consumers want personalized offers and pricing from their insurers.

Progressive is one of the 22% of carriers currently making strides to offer personalized, real-time digital services, having recently released HomeQuote Explorer. From an app or computer, consumers can enter information once and receive side-by-side comparisons from multiple homeowners insurance providers. According to the company, they leverage a network of home insurers to make sure customers can find the coverage they need at a comfortable price.

Oliver Lauer, head of architecture/head of IT innovation at Zurich, believes these collaborative networks are an integral part of the digital future of insurance.

“Digital innovation means you have to develop your insurance company to an open and digitally enabled platform that can interface with everybody every time in real time – from customers to brokers, to other insurers, but also to fintechs and insurtechs,” Lauer says.

Using a digitally enabled market network, insurers can fill product gaps and even meet customer needs when they don’t have an appetite for the risk. The premise is simple. By offering coverage from other insurers, they maintain the customer relationship and reap the rewards of loyalty.

As society changes and consumer needs evolve, the ability to personalize bundled coverage to the needs of the individual will become increasingly important. Consumers are now looking for coverage to mitigate risk in previously unheard-of areas, such as cyber security, identity theft and even activities related to legalized marijuana.

When an insurer is unable to provide the coverage a customer needs, it risks forfeiting that relationship, and any other policies bundled with it, to another carrier. But when the carrier takes part in a market network, it can bundle the appropriate coverage from another insurer with its own products, personalizing the coverage to better fit the needs of the customer.

See also: Key Strategic Initiatives in P&C  

Digital platforms offering market networks also set the stage for insurers to offer ancillary services, such as roadside assistance, that make their insurance products more attractive to consumers. We see this happening with increasing frequency as carriers seek to improve the customer experience and lift their acquisition efforts.

DMC Insurance, a provider of commercial transportation insurance solutions, recently announced a partnership with BlackBerry Radar. The venture would provide transportation companies with real-time data on vehicle location, as well as cargo-related information, such as temperature, humidity, door status and load state. Information like this will help companies better manage risk.

In the personal lines market, insurers are partnering to offer services that enhance the life of their customers. Allstate’s partnership with OpenBay allows consumers to review repair shops and schedule an appointment from an app. Allianz is helping home owners safeguard properties by partnering with Panasonic on sensors that monitor home functions and report issues. Customers can even schedule repairs through the service.

Digital Distribution Benefits All

J.D. Power reveals that digital insurers are winning the intense battle for market share in the insurance industry, starting a shift that could help level the profitability field between distributors and carriers. In a recent insurance shopper survey, overall satisfaction was six points higher for digital insurers over those that sell through independent agents. This lead grows to 12 points when compared with carriers with exclusive agents.

According to research by IDC, digital succeeds on the strength of its data. The ability to collect and analyze the vast stores of data available through these interactions, including such variables as the time of day the consumer shopped for coverage, the channel the consumer used, and stores of information collected from third-parties as part of the automated application process, provides the key to improved customer service.

“By analyzing this data, insurers can understand each customer’s lifestyle, behaviors and preferences in order to engage with them at the right time and place, offer personalized service and offers and more,” says Andy Hirst, vice president of banking solutions, SAP Banking Industry Business Unit.

As insurers create omni-channel engagement, they’re strengthening distribution from every angle, giving consumers the option to quote coverage online when it’s most convenient for them, and then buy it right then and there or to seamlessly call an agent to discuss their options and their risk.

Customer experience is rapidly becoming the foundation of success in the industry, and digital distribution provides the first link in building that base of core customer satisfaction. By providing consumers with multiple channels of engagement and the ability to meet more of their needs at any time, day or night, carriers are taking back the lead on profitability.

4 Insurers’ Great Customer Experiences

McKinsey research has found that insurance companies with better customer experiences grow faster and more profitably. In 2016, 85% of insurers reported customer engagement and experience as a top strategic initiative for their companies. Yet the insurance industry continues to lag behind other industries when it comes to meeting customer expectations, inhibited by complicated regulatory requirements and deeply entrenched cultures of “business as usual.”

Some companies–many of them startups–are setting the gold standard when it comes to customer experience in insurance, and are paving the way for the industry’s biggest insurers to either fall in line, or risk losing out to smaller competitors with better experiences. Through a combination of new business models, clever uses of emerging technology and deep understanding of customer journeys, these four companies are leading the pack when it comes to delivering on fantastic experiences:

1. Slice – Creating insurance products for new realities.

Slice launched earlier this year and is currently operating in 13 states. The business model is based on the understanding that, in the new sharing economy, the needs of the insured have changed dramatically and that traditional homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policies don’t suffice for people using sites like AirBnB or HomeAway to rent out their homes.

According to Emily Kosick, Slice’s managing director of marketing, many home-share hosts don’t realize that, when renting out their homes, traditional insurance policies don’t cover them. When something happens, they are frustrated, angry and despondent when they realize they are not covered. Slice’s MO is to create awareness around this issue, then offer a simple solution. In doing so, Slice can establish trust with consumers while giving them something they want and need.

Slice provides home-share hosts the ability to easily purchase insurance for their property, as they need it. Policies run as little as $4 a night! The on-demand model allows hosts renting out their homes on AirBnB or elsewhere to automatically (or at the tap of a button) add an insurance policy to the rental that will cover the length of time–up to the minute–that their home is being rented. The policy is paid for once Slice receives payment from the renter, ensuring a frictionless transaction that requires very little effort on the part of the customer.

See also: Who Controls Your Customer Experience?  

Slice’s approach to insurance provides an excellent example of how insurers can strive to become more agile and develop capacities to launch unique products that rapidly respond to changes in the market and in customer behavior. Had large insurance companies that were already providing homeowners’ and renters’ insurance been more agile and customer-focused, paying attention to this need and responding rapidly with a new product, the need for companies like Slice to emerge would have never have arisen in the first place.

2. Lemonade – Practicing the golden rule.

In a recent interview, Lemonade’s Chief Behavior Officer Dan Ariely remarked that, “If you tried to create a system to bring about the worst in humans, it would look a lot like the insurance of today.”

Lemonade wants to fix the insurance industry, and in doing so has built a business model on a behavioral premise supported by scientific research: that if people feel as if they are trusted, they are more like to behave honestly. In an industry where 24% of people say it’s okay to pad an insurance claim, this premise is revolutionary.

So how does Lemonade get its customers to trust it? First, by offering low premiums–as little as $5 a month–and providing complete transparency around how those premiums are generated. Lemonade can also bind a policy for a customer in less than a minute. Furthermore, Lemonade has a policy of paying claims quickly–in as little as three seconds–a far cry from how most insurance companies operate today. When claims are not resolved immediately, they can typically be resolved easily via the company’s chatbot, Maya, or through a customer service representative. But perhaps the most significant way that Lemonade is generating trust with its customers is through its business model. Unlike other insurance companies, which keep the difference between premiums and claims for themselves, Lemonade takes any money that is not used for claims (after taking 20% of the premium for expenses and profit) is donated to a charity of the customer’s choosing. Lemonade just made its first donation of $53,174.

Lemonade’s approach to insurance is, unlike so many insurers out there, fundamentally customer-centric. But CEO Daniel Schreiber is also quick to point out that, although Lemonade donates a portion of its revenues to charities, its giveback is not about generosity, it is about business. If Lemonade has anything to teach the industry, it is this: that the golden rule of treating others as you want to be treated, holds true, even in business.

3. State Farm – Anticipating trends and investing in cutting-edge technology.

The auto insurance industry has been one of the fastest to adapt to the new customer experience landscape, being early adopters of IoT (internet of things), using telematics to pave the path toward usage-based insurance (UBI) models that we now see startups like Metromile taking advantage of. While Progressive was the first to launch a wireless telematics device, State Farm is now the leading auto insurer, its telematics device being tied to monetary rewards that give drivers financial incentives to drive more safely. The company also has a driver feedback app, which, as the name suggests, provides drivers feedback on their driving performance, with the intent of helping drivers become safer drivers, which for State  Farm, equals money.

By anticipating a trend, and understanding the importance of the connected car and IoT early on, State Farm has been able to keep pace with startups and has reserved a seat at the top–above popular auto insurers like Progressive and Geico–at least for now. If nothing else, unlike most traditional insurers, auto insurance companies like State Farm and Progressive have been paving the way for the startups when it comes to innovation, rather than the other way around. For now, this investment in customer experience is paying off. J.D Powers 2017 U.S Auto Insurance Study shows that, even as premiums increased for customers in 2017, overall customer satisfaction has skyrocketed.

4. Next Insurance – Automating for people, and for profit.

Next Insurance believes that a disconnect between the carrier and the customer is at the heart of the insurance industry’s digital transformation problem. In essence, it’s a communication problem, according to Sofya Pogreb, Next Insurance CEO. The people making decisions in insurance don’t have contact with the end customer. So while they are smart, experienced people, they are not necessarily making decisions based on the actual customer needs.

Next Insurance sells insurance policies to small-business owners, and the goal is to do something that Next believes no other insurer is doing–using AI and machine learning to create “nuanced” and “targeted” policies to meet specific needs.

An important aspect of what makes the approach unusual is that, instead of trying to replace agents altogether, Next is more interested in automating certain aspects of what agents do, to free their expertise to be put to better use:

“I would love to see agents leveraged for their expertise rather than as manual workers,” Pogreb told Insurance Business Magazine. “Today, in many cases, the agent is passing paperwork around. There are other ways to do that – let’s do that online, let’s do that in an automated way. And then where expertise is truly wanted by the customer, let’s make an agent available.”

See also: Smart Things and the Customer Experience  

While innovative business models and cutting-edge technology will both be important to the insurance industry of the future, creating fantastic customer experiences ultimately requires one thing: the ability for insurance companies–executives, agents and everyone in between–to put themselves in their customers’ shoes. It’s is a simple solution, but accomplishing it is easier said than done. For larger companies, to do so requires both cultural and structural change that can be difficult to implement on a large scale, but will be absolutely necessary to their success in the future. Paying attention to how innovative companies are already doing so is a first step; finding ways to bring about this kind of change from within is an ambitious next step but should be the aim of every insurance company looking to advance into the industry of the future.

This article first appeared on the Cake & Arrow website, here. To learn more about how you can bring about the kind of cultural and institutional change needed to deliver true value to your customers, download our recent white paper: A Step-by-Step Guide to Transforming Digital Culture and Making Your Organization Truly Customer Focused.