In a 2011 article in Insurance and Technology, Kathy Burger enumerated several big technological changes in the insurance industry since 2001, including the rise of big data, the ubiquitous nature of cell phones and social media and an increased emphasis on data security and privacy.
Seven years later, these once-big innovations are par for the course. P&C insurers and insurtech companies are now positioned to use these tools — which scarcely existed in 2001 and which were only beginning to be broadly embraced in 2011 — as the foundation for the next wave of major changes in the insurance industry.
Now, let’s look at some of the biggest rising insurtech trends today to get an idea of where they’re likely to take us 10 years from now.
In July 2015, Jayleen R. Heft published an article at PropertyCasualty360 with the provocative title, “Will the auto insurance industry be obsolete in 20 years?”
Heft cited the work of Deutsche Bank research analyst Joshua Shanker, who argued that by 2030 self-driving cars and ride-sharing services would occupy so much of the automotive market that setting rates based on driving data would no longer be necessary. Instead, the companies behind these vehicles and services would simply “insure their cars like any other product,” Heft said.
While self-driving cars and ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are already shaking up the auto industry, predicting the demise of auto insurance by 2030 — or by 2028, even — may be premature. Pay-per-mile auto insurance is gaining popularity. Spearheaded by companies like Metromile and Esurance, the pay-per-mile model charges a base rate, plus a specified rate for each mile driven.
“Each mile usually costs a few cents,” Craig Casazza explains in an article for ValuePenguin. “So if you drive 200 miles per month at a rate of five cents per mile, you would be charged $10.” In addition, Metromile only charges drivers for the first 250 miles driven in any given day in most states.
Tracking Mileage With Telemetrics
Both Metromile and Esurance use telemetrics to track miles driven to calculate each month’s rate. Metromile calls its program the “Metromile Pulse,” and it uses the car’s OBD-II port to track mileage.
Other insurance companies have experimented with telemetrics for a number of years but haven’t connected rates directly to miles driven. Instead, they use the vehicle’s data to adjust rates in a more complex, less transparent manner, Casazza says.
The pay-per-mile model is increasingly popular with younger drivers, who often have the option to abandon their cars entirely for the convenience of Uber or public transportation, but who are happy to keep the freedom of their own vehicle when they feel they can more directly control its costs. For these drivers, who include a growing number of those currently under age 40, auto insurance may survive into the 2030s — although it may operate in a very different way.
Shanker’s prediction that auto insurance will fade into product liability insurance over the next decade, however, may be prescient. In an October 2017 article in Business Insider, Danielle Muoio explored Tesla’s partnership with Liberty Mutual to sell insurance as part of the purchase price of the company’s vehicles. The plan, called InsureMyTesla, factors in the car’s autopilot feature while setting rates and comes up with a lower cost than other insurance plans as a result, Muoio reports.
Insuring Shared Rides
Similarly, while ride-sharing company Uber currently requires drivers to carry their own auto insurance coverage while also providing supplementary insurance, the company may switch to providing all insurance coverage on its cars as it continues to move into the self-driving vehicle market.
Given Uber’s bumpy ride in producing self-driving vehicles, however, the company’s total abandonment of conventional auto insurance expectations for human drivers may be more than 10 years out, Tech Radar’s Leif Johnson and Michelle Fitzsimmons said in May 2018.
Adding Value and Processing Claims
“Digital technology destroys value,” warned a March 2017 article by Tanguy Catlin, Johannes-Tobias Lorenz, Christopher Morrison, and Holger Wilms at McKinsey & Co. According to the authors, “although digital technology propels some companies to become clear market winners, for many more its impact depletes corporate earnings and the overall value of an industry. Consumers, not companies, are often the ultimate winners.”
To stay relevant, the authors said, insurance companies must “meet customers’ expectations, which have been transformed by digital technology.”
In 2018, insurance companies seeking to stay ahead of the curve often accomplish this task by breaking down their own silos and presenting a quick, clean digital interface that makes it easy for customers to interact with the company and for staff to understand customers’ needs and provide clear, consistent answers.
Bridging Human and Automated Workflows
By 2028, companies are likely to have struck a balance between automation and human intervention — a balance that many insurers are currently struggling to find, Rick Huckstep writes in an article in The Digital Insurer. Automation offers both the opportunity to improve claims response and the challenge of providing the “human touch” that customers also demand, as Roger Peverelli and Reggy De Feniks put it in a December 2017 piece for Insurance Thought Leadership.
The goal will be to use automation in a way that doesn’t feel automated. As AI technology continues to develop, this goal may be fully realized within 10 years.
The automation of many of the current day-to-day tasks faced by insurance agents will, in turn, change agents’ jobs. Some commentators are already predicting that today’s field agents will be obsolete by 2023, replaced by “bionic agents” who have fully integrated digital tools, including AI and machine learning, into their work.
How Automation Influences Customer Expectations
Customers are already demanding the knowledge and flexibility a bionic agent exemplifies. As Jason Walker writes at PropertyCasualty360, “Consumers today want the ability to conduct insurance business anytime, anywhere for simple transactions, while at the same time be able to have a relationship with a professional to discuss complex policy questions or walk them through the claims process.” As this option becomes ever more normalized for customers, the demand for the same experience in insurance will rise. as well.
The result? By 2028, “digital natives” won’t only be insurance customers — they’ll also be insurance agents who leverage technology not only to serve customers but to demonstrate real value in the insurance process.
Field agents aren’t the only insurance industry professionals who will see their work change dramatically by 2028. The ways insurance companies process claims will change, as well, driven in large part by customer expectations.
For instance, Ben Rossi writes at Information Age that about a fifth of young adult customers (ages 18–24) expect insurance companies to use drone technology to survey property damage and gather information for claims.
This idea “would have been unthinkable as recently as a couple of years ago,” Rossi says. Ten years from now, sending a drone to a damaged building or factory site may be as commonplace as sending a human adjuster has been for the past 10 years.
For many of us, 2008 feels like it was yesterday. In 2028, our memories of 2018 will feel the same — yet the insurance industry is poised to be eons ahead of where it currently stands, and insurtech will lead the way.
December is the perfect month to predict the key insurtech trends for the year to come and to think of New Year’s resolutions: what specific trends to tap into to enhance the digital strategies. We believe these trends should relate to what an insurance carrier would like to accomplish, to what a winning insurance firm of the future would look like. We believe that that such winning insurance firms will have four essential elements.
1: They are always part of their customers’ lives
Fast-changing customer behavior and new market dynamics make it essential for insurance carriers to increase the contact frequency and provide more value in these contacts. Fortunately, all sorts of connected devices offer an unprecedented entry into customers’ daily life.
2: They continuously build contextual ecosystems
Adding value is about solving the real problem. People don’t want a mortgage; they want a nice house to live in. Insurance is usually just part of a solution, but rarely the entire solution to the real problem a customer is facing. To help solving the real problem insurers need to become more part of the context, and of the ecosystem of companies and organisations that play a part in that context.
3: They act ‘simply human’
With all sorts of new technologies being applied to digitise processes insurers run the risk of neglecting the feelings side of customer engagement. People crave for organisations that are human. The solution is to create ‘the best of both worlds’; to leverage technology to empower front liners.
4: They strive for operational excellence
Digital transformation to improve operational excellence will continue to be top of the agenda in the years to come. And rightfully so. Yet, at the end of the day, digitalised processes and a lower cost base are table stakes. It is simply not enough to stay in sync with fast changing customer behaviour and new market dynamics. Operational excellence is essential, but it also a qualifier, not a winner. Engagement innovation needs to be built on top. This is where the previous three essential elements kick in.
It is these four essential elements that drive our Top 10 Insurtech Trends for 2018; the key trends that set the Digital Insurance Agenda. We’ll illustrated each trend with insurtech solutions that featured at the 2017 DIA editions.
Key words? Platforms and partnerships. Obviously, we’ll pay ample attention to this at DIA Amsterdam 2018 (May 16-17).
Trend 1. Data-driven Services
In order to really become part of customers’ daily lives new data streams from e.g. connected devices need to be turned into new insights and these new insights need to be turned into new propositions and services. This is where insurance carriers need to explore opportunities beyond their traditional primary process to really help solving the real problem that customers are facing. Many insurtechs are dedicated to supporting incumbents in these efforts.
DIAmond Award winner The Floow (Sheffield, UK) designs telematics systems to make vehicles safer and cheaper for all. Their GoWithFloow (GWF) is a platform for car sharing. It is sort of the Airbnb in cars, including rating the owner or borrower of the car. But where the platform differs from other examples of car sharing and vehicle lending is the addition of The Floow telematics engine and scoring system which is integrated into the software. This means that when a driver borrows a car their behavior can be tracked using the smartphone-as-a-sensor capabilities. The Floow use this information to develop a score for the driver to help lenders decide who to lend their car to. The Floow is engaging with insurance companies to bring the proposition to market. This sort of capability will help meet changing mobility demands by creating a marketplace of vehicles.
HeartShield (Vienna, Austria) developed an artificial intelligence platform that uses patient data to recognize risk factors and determine whether someone is a potential candidate for a heart attack or heart failure in time. Instead of using 19th/20th century statistics, they allow computers to learn warnings signs autonomously using data from all sorts of devices that can measure heart rate; including smartphones, smart watches and clinical or portable ECGs. Peer-reviewed scientific papers show that the algorithms behind HeartShield outperform the best heart rate variability predictors in detecting heart disease, and is more reliable than blood test based risk scores in recognizing coronary artery disease.
Trend 2. Invisible Insurance
In banking we notice that more and more payments are becoming invisible. Think of machine to machine payments, of what Amazon is doing with Dash, and how you pay for a ride with Uber and for a song at iTunes. We see the same thing happening also in insurance. You purchase a product and there is already an insurance embedded in that.
Customers purchasing the BMW i3 or the i8 are entitled to a seven-day free-of-charge, comprehensive car insurance from BMW Car Insurance. This is simply activated over the phone by the customer. Customers are then provided with an overview of insurance options available to them after their seven-day free policy has expired; all designed and backed by Allianz.
DIAmond Award winner Qover (Brussels, Belgium) have built an ‘Insurance as a Service’ platform to change the way insurance is designed, managed and distributed. Qover is a cover holder of Lloyd’s of London and acts as a digital wholesaler of proprietary white label insurance. They target among others large non-insurance distributors; basically any business, from automotive brands and utility companies to ecommerce merchants and traditional retailers, to seamlessly integrate insurance into their products via open API’s.
Push strategies are becoming less and less effective. Pull is the name of the game. Pull is about understanding and solving the need behind the insurance solution and being present in that context. Insurers need to move upstream and be present in the context of specific life events and decisions, big and small.
Ping An has adopted the strategy of the synergistic development of traditional and non-traditional businesses. Pinganfang.com for instance, is the largest real estate e-commerce platform in China and part of Ping An Group. Its business model integrates ‘real estate + internet + finance’ and seamlessly includes a wide range of financing services in the customer journey of buying a new home. Richard Sheng, director of branding & corporate communications Ping An Group in our book Reinventing Customer Engagement: “We are creating all sorts of portals in non-traditional domains such as home, health, car, but also food and entertainment. Each and every one of them are new business lines that create new value for themselves, as well as for Ping An. All these platforms have large numbers of users and interactions, and advanced data mining and precision marketing capabilities. When relevant, and at a logical moment, customers are brought into contact with Ping An’s traditional banking and insurance activities. The new business lines are not only increasing their own value; by enlarging the total customer base and by allowing new synergies they also increase the value of the entire ecosystem of Ping An enterprises.”
Abracar (Munich, Germany) was developed in 2016 as part of the Accelerator program of Allianz X and is the first spin-off of the incubator. The startup is Germany’s first professional car broker. They help car consumers to sell their car at the highest price without any effort. Abracar takes care of all steps of the selling process starting by creating a professional expert’s report, over 50 pictures, writing an attractive listing, filtering the potential buyers, negotiating the final price and preparing the contract. The car buyer benefits from the expert’s report, an Allianz warranty, financing solutions and competent consulting.
Trend 4. Bancassurance Revival
PSD2 is the new payment services directive by the EU. This directive makes it obligatory for banks to open up customer data to third parties. Originally, the intention was to increase the competition between banks to improve payment products, but it effectively creates opportunities to all sorts of third parties to provide new opt-in services to these customers. Although this is hardly on the radar screen of insurance carriers, we believe this will revamp the bancassurance model. Moving from bank partnerships for just distribution and using bank data in the marketing and underwriting processes to really being much closer to customers. When we interviewed Markus Pertlwieser, chief digital officer Deutsche Bank, at DIA Munich 2017 he agreed that the right PSD2 applications offer great opportunities to link insurance to a certain payment, making insurance much more individual and much more real time.
Also at DIA Munich 2017, Vikas Chhariya, global head of digital partnerships AXA Group, mentioned Aadhaar, India’s national biometrics identity program, as an interesting platform. Banks need to comply, so that fingerprints will give hundreds of millions Indians access to financial services, including insurance.
Strands is a leading provider of Personal Financial Management solutions (PFM) for banks such as Barclays, BBVA and Deutsche Bank. PFM uses payments and other data to help bank customers understand their financial situation, give some tips how to better manage finances and prevent overdrafts, and improve wiser financial decision-making. PFM drives engagement between banks and their customers. Strands is actually a fintech rather than an insurtech. In the last few years the company has been investing a lot in the development of smart recommendation engines (using AI and Machine Learning) that continuously learn about the user financial behaviour and then proactively make contextual recommendations of financial products, including insurance. Let’s say you are 40 years old and you have no pension plan in place. Through a Siri-like PFM medium, the Strands PFM will intuitively decide to offer you a pension solution.
Munich Re’s Life Financial Solutions Business has developed a new variable annuity product concept called SaveUp. It’s the first attempt to revolutionize the savings life insurance space in Europe, through new product offerings and an entirely new distribution channel via a smartphone app but it also supports distribution via banks. SaveUp is a simplified savings product suitable for online self-service sales and management via web and smartphones. It is packaged for young consumers as a guaranteed savings and investment offering, allowing them to participate in investment markets while maintaining the security of their chosen guaranteed amount.
Trend 5. Innovation Multiplied
In a recent study DIA academic partners Alexander Braun and Florian Schreiber (University of St. Gallen) argue that real innovations require more than just new technological improvements to unlock new economic value. It is about combinations of innovative new models. Now think about insurtechs working closely together, combining their ideas to come up with something that is even more innovative. Innovation multiplied. And that’s exactly what we already see taking place in the DIA community.
KASKO + Picsure
KASKO (London, UK) supports insurance companies by offering an API-powered agile insurance product platform that sits in between digital customer touchpoints and your legacy IT, taking internal IT off the critical path to product launch. Picsure (Munich, Germany) creates smart AI solutions for the insurance industry, in particular for object recognition, fraud detection and identity checking. KASKO and Picsure teamed up to create an innovative watch insurance product for Swiss insurer Baloise.
Sentiance + Sureify
Sentiance (Antwerp, Belgium) is a data science company turning IOT sensor data into rich insights about people’s behavior and real-time context. These insights enable insurance companies to understand how customers go through their everyday lives, discover and anticipate the moments that matter most, and adapt their engagement to real-world behavior and real-time context. Sureify Labs (Silicon Valley, USA) created a platform that engages a customer over their lifetime. Their Lifetime Platform is a set of cloud-based software applications that allow insurers to digitally engage with their policyholders via web, mobile and various personal health and device data sources. The platform drives customer loyalty, brand recognition and better customer experience. After winning the DIAmond Award earlier this year Sentiance won again at DIA Munich through their collaboration with Sureify. They demonstrated the wizardry of the Sentiance technology that extrapolates behavior insights from a diversity of mobile-user data, and then showed the full circle that Sureify provides by turning these insights into buying signals and engagement opportunities.
Trend 6. Competitors Cooperate
Innovation beyond digitising the current processes and thoroughly exploring the opportunities that insurtechs around the world have to offer require a certain scale. Only the few carriers have sufficient size and presence to do this all by themselves.
Teaming up with other insurers is the solution. The ultimate in cooperation can be found in Germany. Twelve insurers, ranging from multinationals such as Allianz, Generali and Munich Re, to domestic players like Versicherungskammer Bayern, LV1871 and Nürnberger Versicherung, have all put money into WERK1; an incubator that already supports ten insurtechs, located in an old cookie factory in Munich. And because these insurers are convinced that it is about continuously developing a stronger ecosystem, they have launched Insurtech Hub Munich in July 2017. The Insurtech Hub Munich initiative is unprecedented, in terms that twelve insurance carriers, big and small, are working closely together with leading universities and research institutions, with the State of Bavaria and the City of Munich as well as with blue chip corporates from adjacent industries such as automotive, health care and cybersecurity.
Our DIA database shows that 180 insurtechs have ties with Munich. To put that into perspective: California, where Silicon Valley is situated, host 160, according to Braun and Schreiber’s survey. In our view, that makes Munich the de facto insurtech capital of the world. The activities of Insurtech Hub Munich will strengthen that position even further.
Trend 7. Network Effects
Scale economies get an extra meaning. Scale benefits are not just about ever-growing efficiency in processes within the business. It’s also about ever-growing added value through network effects. Network effects can for instance be created by leveraging the growth and activity of estLibraryablished allied platforms. PayPal, for instance, grew on top of eBay.
Zhong An teamed up with Alibaba’s online shop Tao-Bao to create a shipping return policy seamlessly integrated into every transaction. They’re selling hundreds of millions policies.
AXA Group engaged in partnerships with companies such as Alibaba, Uber and car sharing platform BlaBlaCar. Clearly a clever choice to profit from network effects. They’re all fast growing digital players; so AXA’s business with them will almost automatically grow as well.
We mentioned in trend 2 that Qover is targeting large non-insurance distributors to seamlessly integrate insurance into their products via open API’s. Also a perfect example of ‘how to create scale through network effects’.
With insurtech becoming mainstream, the challenge is adoption at scale. Leveraging network effects is a great way to achieve this.
Trend 8. Empathy Empowered
According to many headlines algorithms are displacing human advisers, saving costs. We believe there is ample opportunity to create the best of both worlds by combining new digital technologies with human skills. To relate to their customers, financial institutions need to secure the feelings side. Humans inject emotion, empathy, passion, creativity, and can deviate from the procedure if needed. Deploying technology to empower human front liners such as brokers and agents results in better conversations, higher conversion and finally, greater solutions for customers.
SaleMove (New York City, USA) provides solutions for delivering a high-touch, in-person customer experience online. SaleMove enables for instance life insurance brokers to interact with their online customers in real-time through voice, video and collaborative browsing – leading to better conversations, higher customer satisfaction and increased conversions.
DIAmond Award winner Wefox (Berlin, Germany) combines the personal advice of a traditional insurance business with modern app technology, thereby bringing together the evolved needs and expectations of customers, insurance brokers and insurance companies. Wefox’s long term vision is to pull the entire insurance industry, in particular brokers, into the digital age, leveraging to the max what digital has to offer. They are very successful with already more than 150.000 end customers and over 600 brokers in 3 countries.
The ongoing success of South African health insurer Discovery’s Vitality program is creating more and more awareness for intelligent combinations of data and behavioural economics. Adrian Gore, founder and CEO of Discovery, in our book Reinventing Customer Engagement: “If you promote healthier behaviour, you can offer more sustainable insurance. Behavioural science says that people need incentives to change. The Vitality program is a complete wellness system that tracks everything from physical activity to nutrition over the course of a person’s life. It combines engaging policyholders through personalized and regular interaction, motivating and incentivizing them to manage their wellness, live better and to make healthier choices through tailored programs.”
Lemonade (New York City, USA) offers homeowners and renters insurance. We like Lemonade so much because it is fully powered by artificial intelligence and behavioral economics. By replacing brokers and bureaucracy with bots and machine learning, Lemonade promises zero paperwork, instant everything and killer prices. Lemonade’s chief behavioral officer Dan Ariely helped designing systems and processes that ensure that the interests of the insurer and the insured are aligned. But also how behavioural economics reflects in Lemonade’s daily customer experience. When we interviewed CEO Daniel Schreiber on the occasion of Lemonade’s first anniversary he shared: “Not just our business model but also the whole product flow is informed by behavioural economics. For example, we ask people to sign on the top of the form, not at the bottom. Behavioural research shows that asking people to pledge honesty first, results in forms that are actually more accurate.” Insurers could benefit much more from psychology and social sciences.
Consumer engagement is becoming more and more important in the health insurance industry. Dacadoo (Zurich, Switzerland) has developed a mobile health engagement solution enabling individuals to track, manage and benchmark their health and well being in an easy and fun way on their smartphones. The Health Score indicator moves up or down in real-time, depending on how body values, emotional wellbeing and activities change (exercise, nutrition, stress and sleep). To help individuals remain engaged, motivation techniques from behavioral science are used such as online gaming, social and collaborative features from social networks, and personalized feedback.
Trend 10. Purpose Reboot
New digital technologies are not only critical in repositioning the industry along customer-centric models but also offer insurance carriers the opportunity to reboot themselves as a force for good in the communities in which they operate. More and more insurers leverage insurtech to tackle important global challenges today and in the future. Connected devices and advanced algorithms are already improving patient care while simultaneously decreasing costs. Micro-insurance solutions are offering protection to low income populations that were previously considered uninsurable. Insurtechs strike the right chord among millennials that are dangerously under-insured. And insurtech innovation is helping to offset the damage caused by natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods.
Allm (Tokyo, Japan) is dedicated to reshaping healthcare by developing HealthTech medical communications platforms for healthcare professionals and the medical industry, using cloud technologies and smart devices. A more efficient communication and new innovative technologies help to improve decision making and can save more lives and reduce costs while improving customer experiences.
Understory (Minnesota, USA) is a smart weather hardware and analytics company that creates unprecedented details of how weather affects people and businesses. The data applications for Understory’s sensors are enormous, as US$ 485 billion of the US economy fluctuates with weather. With Understory’s white-labeled weather and home safety insurers can easily help their customers know what to do to prevent potential property damage.
Incumbents have difficulty connecting to millennials. As a result this segment of the future is hardly aware of the importance and necessity of insurance, with a high number of under-insured as a result. The average attention span of people is getting lower and lower and our daily lives seem to be made up of micro moments related to the use of smartphones. Neosurance (Milan, Italy) provides micro-insurance solutions for insurance carriers that want to address the ‘connected generation’. By gathering contextual data, the Neosurance is capable of identifying a potential specific insurance need for that customer and send a notification on the smartphone. The user can choose to activate the cover with 4 easy taps on the screen. A great way to get a whole new generation more familiar with the benefits of insurance.
DIAmond Award winner BIMA (Stockholm, Sweden) provides insurance and underwriting to millions of low-income people via innovative partnerships with major mobile network operators and financial services businesses. They offer a range of affordable life, personal accident and health micro insurance products. BIMA partners with leading telecoms players such as Telefonica, Orange and Axiata Group. Consumers can pay for insurance via deduction of prepaid airtime credit. In just six years, the BIMA model has transformed the insurance landscape in the countries where they operate, proving that it is possible to reach consumers at the bottom of the pyramid at scale. BIMA has over 24 million registered customers in 14 countries across 3 continents, 93% living on less than $10 per day.
Check out www.digitalinsuranceagenda.com for more info on DIA Amsterdam (16 and 17 May 2018).
Many insurance carriers love insurtech because it can help them become more operationally excellent. A growing number realize that this is not sufficient and that they should deploy insurtech to reinvent the way they engage with customers, as well. Leveraging what insurtech enables and combining even more operational excellence with a next level of consumer engagement is not a gradual development; it requires insurance carriers to develop new talents. Leveraging insurtech is basically a new competence to most organizations. Furthermore, it is not easy. It transcends channels, products and departments. It is about working methods but also about changing decades of routines, beliefs and company culture. And last but not least, to know how to deliver it is the real challenge. To quote Morpheus, the character in “The Matrix,” “There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.”
Here, we will distinguish 10 talents that are more important than ever to leverage insurtech for new ways of customer engagement.
1. Hang out with your customers
A different level of customer obsession is required. Because new technologies redefine behavior, we need to know a lot more. All sorts of connected devices offer insurance carriers unprecedented entry in the lives of customers and all sorts of possibilities to help them on all kinds of occasions.
To capture this opportunity, insurers have to have much better knowledge of the wishes, expectations and behavior of consumers regarding financial services. Insurers have to understand even better what requirements new customer engagement strategies have to meet. Which ways are best to maintain a dialogue with the customers, increase the contact frequency, be of value all the time, develop pull platforms and stay interesting over time? Which events or themes cause customers to go looking for content? In what way can banks and insurers best help them with that? What part can banks and insurers play in customers’ lives? Which role will be accepted by the customer?
Insurers have to know better than they do now what customers expect from them when it comes to the use of data. Insurers need to be aware of how customers weigh privacy against convenience and added value as well as what reciprocity is expected, where the absolute limits are and insurers can familiarize customers with the use of data.
This is not about briefing a customer research agency. Insurers need to immerse in the life of customers. Hang out with them and observe them.
2. Develop leading-edge data analytics skills and turn data into winning propositions
A key challenge for insurance carriers is building new capabilities to take full advantage of the data they collect from connected devices, pull platforms and smart phones. Unfortunately, the enormous amount of data that insurers preserve makes them think there is a lot of knowledge. But all too often it’s just a lot of data used for risk assessment, pricing and targeted marketing. In reality, most insurers have not yet succeeded in translating all that data into new customer propositions with new advantages. All these new data streams only become interesting when new, innovative propositions and revenue streams can be based on them — and by translating the data into actionable insights/new offerings and getting these new products and services to market quickly and efficiently.
Most insurers are simply not creative or enterprising enough to get the most from their data; neither for the customer nor the company itself. Insurers need to step up the plate.
3. Build relations where the value proposition is alive and personal
Building relationships — with customers, insurtechs and partners that are part of the same ecosystem is a core competence.
Developing customer relationships is a something most insurers have outsourced in the last 100 years to brokers and other distribution partners. These talents have to be restored and be translated to digital. Insurers have to think about a few things regarding relationships: With whom do we want a relationship? Who would we pass on? What kind of relationship? How do we develop that relationship? How do we give our best?
Insurers have to deal with several new aspects. They have to live up to what consumers have grown accustomed to in the mobile world: perpetual updates and improvement, new functionalities and capabilities. Products and services must now be alive and personal. New products and services should take that into account from the conceptual stage on — and there should be longevity. Any concept should be able to sense how consumer needs are changing over time and be able to adapt seamlessly. There should be a constant stream of upgrades and iterations that anticipate the endless consumer desire for continuous product renewal and innovation that will keep motivating customers over a longer period of time.
Apart from relationships with customers, other relationships have to be developed and maintained — with all kinds of parties that play a part in the ecosystem or in the customer’s context and with insurtechs that innovate a part of servicing for a insurer, insurtechs that come up with new ideas based on the data and infrastructure of the insurance carrier, etc.
Building relationships is a core competence.
4. Keep an open mind and leave room for unsupervised learning
New entrants venture to question industry conventions. Established insurance carriers should do that, too. As a colleague Eduard de Wilde (VODW) puts it, “If you want to play the game, you need to change the rules.” It’s all about questioning eroded conventions regarding customer expectations and positioning the business model, the products and services, the role of the broker and the importance of channels. Don’t start out conforming to conventions, look for ways to break them. Keep an open mind.
The high rate of the developments demands that we have to deal with uncertainty. You have to let it happen. That is against insurers’ nature. This is where we can learn from adjacent and similar industries such as banking. MobilePay, Danske Bank’s mobile payment solution, is now used by almost every Dane. But Mark Wraa-Hansen (Danske Bank) says, “If you listen to the MobilePay success story, you may think we had it all figured out, but we definitely didn’t. Of course we had made a business case, but it didn’t stick at all. We outperformed on a lot of parameters, but, at first, we did not make any money. However, with MobilePay we created a huge user base and it enabled us to build an ecosystem. And there is a lot of money in that ecosystem. The business case is quite different to when we started. It is actually better looking ahead than what we thought initially. There is just a lot of stuff that you cannot foresee. It turns out that MobilePay is ‘first reach, then rich’. For a bank, this sounds very risky.”
Remember your empathy, flexibility and improvisational skills. There should also be some open ending — room for unsupervised learning — to use whatever is derived from the data and learning experiences to take the next step and continuously match changing needs. We are shifting from product to constantly evolving services.
5. Be agile and improve the time-to-decisions
This is where we need to distinguish agility in adapting to change and an agile way of working within organizations. They are related yet very different. An often-heard reason for digital transformation is that it speeds up the time to market. That’s true, of course. Time to market of small banks is six months. Large banks need twice this time. By the way, that is not unique for financial institutions. It takes fast-mover Proctor & Gamble about 300 days to go from a new product idea to a supermarket shelf.
But in many large organizations, the time-to-decisions is the main problem. Decision-making takes ages, and it’s losing possible profit opportunities because a possible profit is bigger when you can bring it to market earlier and benefit from it longer. This way, you lose momentum. The longer you wait, the less relevant the idea will become.
Agility will become the standard. Who would have thought that Spotify would eventually be more renowned as an organization model than as a music service?
6. When experimentation is perfect, it’s too late
Fostering opportunities that new technologies offer requires experimentation. We never could have guessed all the things that the internet has made possible, let alone what smart phones have made possible. It’s just as hard to foresee what can be done with, for instance, connected devices. Insurers need to use techniques such as the lean methodology to experiment with new ideas and processes and constantly tweak these with fast feedback loops. Of course, that is also a culture issue. The challenge is to get people to be more ambitious. Again, insurers can learn from the banking sector. At DBS Bank, they have changed the word “no” to the phrase “let’s experiment.” But it definitely can be done, even on a massive scale.
Part of agile working and experimentation is thinking in terms of minimal viable products and improving these on the go. Mark Wraa-Hansen (Danske Bank) says, “We actually launched MobilePay before it was finished. People told us ‘Don’t launch this until you have solved this or that.’ Of course it made us insecure. But we just didn’t want to lose the first-mover advantage. We’re building a plane while it flies. But when it’s perfect, it’s too late.”
7. Be creative and hire strange animals
Collecting and modeling data is one thing; translating it to new concepts, ideas for features in pull platforms, dialogues with customers or added value is quite another. In building advanced data analytics skills, financial institutions suffer from some sort of anemia when it comes to this particular kind of creativity. Put customer experience design in the hands of design experts, not in the hands of workers who have been working in insurance carrier for ages. Hire strange animals who feel comfortable asking the questions nobody else dares to ask, people with completely different backgrounds (from the gaming, e-retail and online gambling industries, for example).
8. Regarding orchestration: Respect all nodes, cooperate and compromise
Orchestration is required at different levels to get the most out of agile teams, break down silos and create an ecosystem where every party has added value. Terms such as “ecosystems” and “marketplaces” suggest that these are more or less autonomous. That is not quite the case. Theo Bouts (Allianz) says, “A key function in smart ecosystems is orchestration. And the most important factor for success in orchestration is a genuine belief in the significance of connectivity — and you must be prepared to live by it. There is a shift in roles between insurer, consumer and distribution partner. That means that you have to understand and respect the needs of all nodes in the network and that you keep granting access to nodes that may not be of value to you but are valuable to the ecosystem as a whole.
This part of orchestration requires a certain level of maturity and a different mindset. If all is well, parties in an ecosystem are all convinced that value is added for the network and for each of the parties. Because of that, there can be no room for practices such as hard selling techniques. Orchestration requires specific talents: content, people and process skills. When you think of a network, you may conclude that process skills are the most important in establishing an ecosystem and continuing to give it new impulses. I think that the other two — content and people — are much more important. If you want to successfully play the part of an orchestrator, you have to master content 100%. Cooperation and, if necessary, compromise, have to be in your blood.
9. Gather the right people and change your DNA
The previous eight talents make clear that leveraging insurtech to the max is perhaps one of the most difficult challenges a company faces, primarily because it often requires the company to change deeply rooted corporate cultures. It’s not about drawing up a new organigram but gathering people around you that feel comfortable with. People who are agile, dare to take responsibility, are willing to keep an open mind, have the right skills (for instance, data creativity), can handle a certain level of uncertainty, enjoy developing relationships with other parties and are obsessed with customers.
Often, people with these talents are already inside the company — they only have to be found and empowered. But it’s not like the traits we just summed up are present in the genes of every financial institution. It has taken quite some time before insurers invested substantial amounts of money in innovation. Peter Maas, professor of insurance management at Sankt Gallen University in Switzerland, argues that this is caused by the DNA of the whole insurance industry. The core of the business model of insurance is to look backward at risk figures. It is not about painting future horizons, customer obsession and building relationships. Innovation and customer engagement is unnatural.
10. Get in the trenches to instill change
The people at the top are the most important agents of change. So to really get the most out of what insurtechs have to offer, you must have motivated board members who love customers. Furthermore, you need a vision that sees new engagement strategies, informed by new technologies, as the primary source of differentiation and profit.
The IT infrastructure is often an important hindrance in renewing and challenging the existing business. But, in our experience, the management culture may be an even larger barrier. The more management layers, the more bureaucratic processes there are and the more that politics come into play. More agile working calls for resistance, especially by the most powerful part of the organization: the middle management.
Everything stands or falls with the C-level having sufficient strength and power to break this — all while getting the remaining management layers to give the vision their unconditional support. To really bring about change, leaders must make time to get into the trenches to instill change.
Interested to read more?
Check our latest book “Reinventing Customer Engagement: The next level of digital transformation for banks and insurers” (LID Publishing, 2017) here or here.
Blockchain technology is being hyped as ‘internet’s superlative’. Some even think that blockchain promises to be a new infrastructure for financial services by 2020. The essence is that it facilitates peer-to-peer exchange of value, that is without the intervention of a third party, and that indeed renders the possibilities endless. Applications include identity validation, risk reduction, dramatic process improvement (on speed, accuracy, transparency and cost efficiency), fraud prevention, effective and efficient compliance and a lot more we can’t possibly know about at this point. In this blogpost we listed our favorite blockchain showcases.
All five have been selected for DIA editions in Barcelona or Amsterdam. All five match our key criteria; they significantly contribute to operational excellence and customer engagement innovation.
1. Tradle: KYC on blockchain
New York-based Tradle is using the blockchain to build a ‘know your customer’ (KYC) requirements network to secure both intrabank and external transfers. Current technology has moved little beyond pen and paper but the blockchain provides a secure digital infrastructure. Tradle’s system, ensures the transfer of data is verifiable. It’s about transferring trust, not assets. With KYC on blockchain, Tradle is building a global trust provisioning network to give retail, wealth, SME and institutional customers of financial institutions faster access to capital and risk allocation. Tradle helps financial institutions to turn the pain of compliance into commercial opportunity. Read more … Check demo …
Everledger is a digital, permanent, global ledger that tracks and protects items of value by using the Bitcoin blockchain as a platform for provenance and combating insurance fraud. The London start-up is starting with diamonds, with a view to expanding into other luxury goods – high value items – whose provenance relies on paper certificates and receipts that can easily be lost or tampered with. With Everledger, the record is tamper-free; it’s immutable and can therefore be trusted. It also provides a Smart Contracts platform to facilitate the transfer of ownership of diamonds to assist insurers in the recovery of items reported as lost and/or stolen. Smart Contracts will also enable a fundamental change in the diamond marketplace and the way they’re financed. Diamonds are a global problem in terms of document tampering and fraud. In London it’s a 2 billion USD problem, meaning it is realistic to generate revenue with a blockchain-based diamond fraud detection system. Read more … Check the keynote of Everledger CEO Leanne Kemp …
3. Eris Industries: The smart contract application platform to solve big problems
The London start-up Eris Industries has built a universal platform for smart contracts and legal applications of blockchain technology. This platform is the first that allows the full potential of blockchain-based technologies to be realized in business. By combining blockchains and systems of smart contracts, businesses can take any data-driven human relationship and reduce it to code – guaranteeing accurate and consistent execution of functions that hitherto required human discretion to manage. The free software allows anyone to build secure, low-cost data infrastructure with run-anywhere applications. By using permissionable, smart contracts’ capable blockchains developers can easily solve commercial data driven problems. Read more … Check demo …
4. Guardtime: the world’s largest blockchain company
Guardtime is a cyber-security provider that uses blockchain systems to ensure the integrity of data. The company has its roots in US defense systems and expertise in state-level digital security (Estonia). Guardtime uses Keyless Signature Infrastructure (KSI), a blockchain technology that provides massive-scale data authentication without reliance on centralized trust authorities. Unlike traditional approaches that depend on asymmetric key cryptography, KSI uses only hash-function cryptography, allowing verification to rely only on the security of hash functions and the availability of a public ledger. In this way, Guardtime guarantees data integrity without the need to keep secrets. In short, instead of putting all of the data up in the blockchain, they only take fingerprints of the data. Read more … Check demo …
5. Kevinsured: blockchain powered chatbot insurance for sharing economy
Kevin, Traity’s new chatbot, provides micro-insurance for online P2P transactions. Created in collaboration with Australia’s financial services conglomerate, Suncorp, Kevin protects buyers on online marketplaces such as Gumtree, Facebook and Craigslist. From buying football tickets to renting a bicycle, Kevin insures any P2P transactions against theft, fraud, scams, etc. Anything. Millions of transactions happen between strangers every day. Most of them work out really well, but the small percentage of scams make people fear strangers. Kevin brings trust to people buying, selling and renting from one another, Kevin ‘insures the use of internet’. To help stop scammers, startup chatbot Kevinsured is here to support online buyers. For any transaction under $100, Kevin validates the integrity of parties to insure the transaction between the buyer and seller. Once a purchase is made and Kevinsured is notified of it, the chatbot reaches out to both the buyer and seller to verify everything is legitimate. $100 may not sound like much, but it covers most of the transactions online. Furthermore, at Kevinsured they think that this is not just about insurance but about prevention. Users who buy and sell through Kevin will be subject to a reputation check, and scammers will simply try to avoid it, so they are likely to see a low level of scams, because scammers prefer to be anonymous.
Lemonade is currently the most talked-about disruptor. That’s why we’re pleased that, for the first time in Europe, Lemonade will present at DIA Munich what the pioneering concept is all about in a keynote presentation. As a special DIA Munich appetizer, we spoke to Lemonade CEO and co-founder Daniel Schreiber recently, exactly one year after the company launched.
DIA: Daniel, congratulations on Lemonade’s first anniversary. It must have been a roller coaster ride. Thanks for being willing to share some of the experiences and learnings. Did the first year meet your expectations?
Daniel: “Yes, it has been quite a ride. But it is great to see that we’re striking the right chord. We already sold ten thousands of policies. Our portfolio doubles every 10 weeks.”
DIA: If you had to name just one thing, what would you say is the key success factor so far?
Daniel: “Our renters insurance is 80% cheaper than what competitors offer and takes less than 90 seconds to purchase.”
DIA: 80% cheaper is almost unbelievable …
Daniel: “Many industry insiders think so, too. [They think that] at least 40% of what insurance carriers receive in premiums is paid out in claims. So if Lemonade is 80% cheaper it must lose money on every policy. That is not true. Renters insurance covers personal property, not real estate. The expected loss is therefore significantly lower and so should the corresponding premium be. Unfortunately, the enormous overheads incumbents have make low-premium products impossible. Their minimum premium reflects their high costs rather than your low claims.”
See also: Lemonade’s New Push: Zero Everything
DIA: We can imagine that such a price difference attracts a specific segment …
Daniel: “Yes, indeed. We offer a good price, especially at entry levels. No less than 87% of our customers are first-time buyers. Lemonade is the preferred insurance brand among first-time insurance buyers. In the state of New York, where we first launched Lemonade, we now have a market share of 27% among first-time buyers.”
DIA: Was this the target segment you planned to focus on initially?
Daniel: “Not really, at least not to this extent. This was definitely not planned or expected. It appears our proposition is attracting people who did not think of such an insurance before; because it was too expensive, too much hassle, or because they had little trust in the added value. So it turns out we actually opened up an underserved, untapped market. This was really a surprise for us, as well. It just shows that with really new propositions there is only so much that you can plan.”
DIA: This suggests the Lemonade concept is about solving frictions that customers experience when dealing with a traditional insurance incumbent. Aren’t you selling yourself short here?
Daniel: “True. It is not just about solving frictions; being faster, better or cheaper. That wouldn’t be sufficient in the long run. When we started conceiving Lemonade, we immediately realized there is no way you can beat insurers at their own game. We needed to think beyond that. We decided to foster trust, not suspicion. Our business model is built on two very distinctive pillars: behavioral economics and artificial intelligence.”
DIA: The pillar that is often highlighted is behavioral economics, one of the reasons we like Lemonade so much. Insurers could benefit much more from psychology and social sciences.
Daniel: “The vast knowledge and experience of our Chief Behavioral Officer Dan Ariely (professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University) is instrumental in this. We apply behavioral economics to neutralize the adversarial relationship, the conflict of interest, between customers and their insurance provider. We take 20%, and the rest (80%) goes to paying claims, and this includes our reinsurance. If less than the 80% is used to pay out claims, for instance 75%, the 5% unclaimed money is donated to charities chosen by customers. The maximum amount that can be given back is 40%. Lemonade gains nothing by refusing a claim. This way we are reinventing insurance from a necessary evil to a social good.”
DIA: Can you explain how behavioral economics reflects in Lemonade’s daily customer experience?
Daniel: “Not just our business model but also the whole product flow is informed by behavioral economics. For example, we ask people to sign on the top of the form, not at the bottom. Behavioral research shows that asking people to pledge honesty first results in forms that are actually more accurate.”
DIA: How does this affect the combined ratio?
Daniel: “Multiple ways. For example, we also apply behavioral economics to reduce fraud. In the onboarding process, customers are asked which charity they want the money that is not used for claims to go to, let’s say the Red Cross. Now, when at some point in time a customer files a claim, we first remind the customer of the charity he or she selected before diving into the claim. We do that on purpose. To many people, insurance fraud is considered a victimless crime; you’re not really hurting someone, at least that is the perception. Research shows that 24% say it’s okay to pad an insurance claim. We’re changing that by immediately creating the presence of a victim. Making it crystal clear that a claim harms a charity someone cares about inhibits misuse.”
DIA: Do you already have proof points that using behavioral economics this way works at a larger scale?
Daniel: “Obviously we’re a young company, so the amount of claims that we receive are still limited. But we already have early indications that this really works. In the last two months, we actually had six customers who claimed and got paid, but later on returned the money. Someone, for instance, thought his laptop was stolen, claimed and got paid. A few weeks later, it turned out he had left the laptop with his mother-in-law. He then decided to return the money, probably because he didn’t want to harm the charity he selected. I would really love to know how many customers of traditional insurers are returning their money.”
DIA: Insurers need to manage the feelings side of financial services much better than they do today. Quite a few tend to forget that when they are going digital. Others are building hybrid solutions of, for instance, chatbots and human experts. How do you secure the human side in a pure play such as Lemonade?
Daniel: “Behavioral economics is one pillar of our business model; artificial intelligence is the other. Thanks to AI, we don’t have to rely on brokers and paperwork. Underwriting and claims handling are taken care of by AI, as well. This makes it even more important to secure that we are recognized as living, breathing people who really care. My co-founder Shai Wininger has a rare talent to marry technology with customer understanding. Our bot has a name. It talks in an approachable manner. It doesn’t say, ‘I don’t understand.’ We know its limits and anticipate the direction in which the conversation is going. Next-level questions are seamlessly moved to our, human, support staff.”
DIA: We quite often see that traditional insurance carriers have a strong immune system when it comes to embracing insurtechs. Apparently, different cultures are difficult to match. Sometimes we even see organ rejection. We noticed that the Lemonade team not only incudes tech veterans like yourself but also former executives from AIG and ACE. How do you make that work?
Daniel: “When we started thinking about a new concept in insurance, we just had a rudimental understanding of insurance. We had the advantage of being ignorant. We had no preconceived notion. This helped us to question the basic principles of the industry, such as the conflict of interest.
“Coming from the outside helped us to rethink, reconceptualize in a fundamental way, from scratch, what Lemonade should be about.
“Now, it is only so far you can take that. As soon as you move to execution, you really need to have deeply entrenched insurance knowledge on board. Think of the regulatory maze we have to go through. Then it comes to finding the right people, which was not that easy. We soon realized that we were looking for ‘insiders’ who were ‘outsiders’ at the same time. In our recruitment ad, we actually said it was a requirement to be in the throes of a midlife crisis; not feeling happy in the corner office anymore. They had to buy into our vision.”
DIA: We noticed that your fast growth in an market segment that is so difficult to reach by incumbents has led companies such as GEICO and Liberty Mutual to use “lemonade” in their marketing and promotion activities …
Daniel: “Ha ha, yes, we’ve noticed that as well, of course. GEICO even introduced a ‘lemonade’ TV commercial at the same time as we launched the company. Liberty Mutual, in fact, introduced a new brand, Lulo, and paraphrased everything, from logo to pricing.
“We take it as a compliment that such renowned brands are looking at us, and try to learn and use our ideas. But the examples also show that it is not that easy. Lemonade is more than a logo. You really need to understand the two pillars of our model: behavioral economics and artificial intelligence and how that reflects in the way we operate. And you need to understand that we are really a different kind of company. Obviously, we have duties to our customers, employees and investors. But we’re also a B-Corp, which makes us legally committed to social impact. Our customer base is therefore more like a community of people around a cause – which in turn results in more trust and less fraud. It is about aligning customers and insurer, and giving up underwriting profits. We’re rebranding the insurance sector.”