Tag Archives: Tokio Marine

Waves of Change in Digital Expectations

In the first of this three-part blog series, titled “Bringing Insurance Distribution Back Into Sync Part 1: What Happened to Insurance Distribution?”, we talked about the seismic shifts that have rocked traditional insurance distribution and about how insurance companies need to adopt a 2D strategy to thrive in this new environment.

There are four fundamental drivers of the seismic changes:

  • New expectations are being set by other industries—the “Amazon effect”;
  • New products are needed to meet new needs, and risks are distributed in new channels;
  • Channel options are expanding;
  • Lines are blurring between insurance and other industries.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss how the final three fundamental drivers have contributed to an environment of challenges and great opportunities. Those who adopt a 2D strategy will be better-prepared to seize the opportunities:

  • First, by optimizing the front end with a digital platform that orchestrates customer engagement across multiple channels
  • Second, by creating an optimized back end that effectively manages the growing array and complexity of multiple distribution channels beyond the traditional agent channel

New Products

Customer expectations, behaviors and risk profiles are evolving thanks to technology, social trends and other changes happening around us. These are driving the need for new insurance solutions and, consequently, new distribution methods, such as:

  • We all know about autonomous cars and increasing car safety technology. Autonomous cars have created questions about where liability lies in the event of an accident involving one of these vehicles. Volvo has laid down a challenge to the auto and insurance industries with its recent announcement that it will assume liability for crashes of its Intellisafe Autopilot cars.
  • The sharing economy—whether it’s for transportation, lodging, labor or “stuff”—has created a multitude of questions regarding coverages. People have realized they don’t need to buy and own cars or pay for hotel rooms when they can use someone else’s stuff for a cheaper price. People who own these items can monetize them when they’re not being used.
  • Cyber risk has been around for a long time, but numerous high-profile hacks have made it a hot topic again.
  • And, finally, the Internet of Things: Connected cars, homes and personal fitness trackers are generating lots of data with tremendous potential to improve pricing and create products and services, while at the same time reducing or eliminating risk.

The seismic impact has resulted in companies developing and offering new products to meet the changing needs, preferences and risks being driven by consumers. There are several relatively new peer-to-peer companies that have entered the market, such as Friendsurance, insPeer, Bought by Many and the recently announced start-up Lemonade. Metromile addresses the sharing economy trend with its product for Uber drivers, and addresses the niche market of low-mileage drivers.

Google Compare, with its focus of “being there when the customer wants it,” has rapidly expanded from credit cards (2013) to auto insurance (early 2015) and now to mortgages (December 2015), all the while expanding to new states and adding product providers to its platform with a new model that leverages customer feedback.

John Hancock is using Fitbits as part of the company’s Vitality program, which started in South Africa and which uses gamification to increase customer engagement and lead to potential discounts. Tokio Marine Nichido is using mobile (in an alliance with NTT Docomo) to distribute “one-time insurance” for auto, travel, golf and sports and leisure. HCC, which was recently acquired by Tokio Marine, has a new online portal for its agents to write artisan ontractors coverage for small artisan contractor customers.

The overarching theme in all these examples is that each company is pioneering ways of distribution, not just new products or coverages. Many companies are direct e-commerce because they are low premium, quick turnaround/short duration and potentially high volume; they are not well-suited for agent distribution.

Expanding Channel Options

Channel options and capabilities for accessing insurance are expanding rapidly. New brands are entering the market, giving customers new ways to shop for, compare and buy insurance.

Comparison sites, online agencies and brokers—such as Bolt Insurance Agency, Insureon, PolicyGenius, CoverHound, Compare.com and the Zebra—are relatively new to the market and are gaining significant market interest and penetration. There are also new brands in the U.S. selling life and commercial direct online, like Haven Life, Assurestart and Hiscox. Berkshire Hathaway will jump into the direct-to-business small commercial market in 2016, a potential game-changing move for the industry.

Finally, there are some intriguing new players that are focusing on specific parts of the insurance value chain.

  • Social Intelligence uses data from social media to develop risk scores that can be used for pricing and underwriting.
  • TROV is a “digital locker” with plans to use the detailed valuation data it collects to create more precise coverage and pricing for personal property.
  • Snapsheet is the technology platform behind many carriers’ mobile claims apps, including USAA, MetLife, National General and Country Financial.

Blurring Lines

The insurance industry is so valuable that outside companies are trying to capture a share. This has created a blurring of industry lines. Companies like Google, Costco and Wal-Mart are familiar brands that have not traditionally been associated with insurance, but they have offered insurance to their customers. The first time most people heard about these companies’ expansions into insurance, it probably struck them as unusual, but now the idea of cross-industry insurance penetration has become normal.

In addition, insurance products are blurring and blending into other products. For example, Zenefits and Intuit are considering bundling workers’ compensation with payroll offerings.

So, what does all of this mean?  There are two key implications from all of this for insurance companies.

First, multiple channels are now available to and are expected by customers. There are many ways for customers to research, shop, buy, pay for and use insurance (as well as almost all other types of products and services). Most customers demand and use multiple channels depending on what they want or need at the time. They are more ends-driven than means-driven and will pick the best channel for the task at hand.

Second, multiple channel options give customers the freedom to interact with companies anywhere, anytime, in just about any way.  But this only works if these channels are aligned and integrated. An organization can’t just add channels as new silos; they must be aligned, or they will do more harm than good.

So, while distribution transformation and digital capabilities promise an easier, better experience for customers, they actually result in increased complexity for insurers. Orchestrating all these channel options is hard work and can’t be done with legacy thinking, processes or systems. This expansion of channels requires insurers to optimize both the front end and the back end of the channel ecosystem.  In my next blog post, we’ll discuss these in more detail.

The Future of Telematics Is… Italy

The black box used for telematics makes it possible for insurers to enrich their auto insurance value proposition by adding services built upon data. These services represent a way of de-commoditizing the car insurance policy and are also a source of income. In the medium/long term, such services will become more and more important as the risks covered by car insurance decrease because of technological progress on security and connected cars. These services also increase the number of interactions with the client, creating a richer connection and improving customer satisfaction. This is true both for Italy and at an international level.

There are three macro categories when it comes to services:

  1. Informational services related to the UBI (usage-based insurance) policy, typically delivered through a smartphone app or a dedicated area on a website. These services concern: quantification of pricing adjustment at the moment of the contract renewal based on previous driving behavior; coaching and advice regarding the style of driving; advice on how to save more while behind the wheel; “gamification” that allows a comparison of one’s own driving style with that of friends. A Canada-based company called Intact and Discovery, which is based in South Africa, can be considered among the most advanced examples that currently use this type of approach. According to recent data made available by a telematics service provider, four out of five clients owning a telematics insurance policy check put their driver score at least once a month. Furthermore, there is evidence that remote coaching programs can lead to concrete results in modifying driving behavior.
  2. Product offers related to the client’s automobile — like Discovery has done in South Africa with the Tires or like Allstate Rewards — or insurance policies sold “on the go” using data collected from the boxes installed on cars (a process known as reverse geocoding). Tokio Marine (Japan-based) and telephone operator NTT Docomo have shown that impulse “cross-selling” of low-value insurance coverage is a valid approach.
  3. Services related to the customer journey in a connected car.

There is a vast array of services that can be developed within the connected car ecosystem, and the technology is moving fast. There are start-ups and innovative business models popping up everywhere around the world. To cite just a recent Italian example, there is WoW — a digital wallet created by CheBanca! — which has integrated a parking payment service called Smarticket.it.

Services could be observed on three stages of the customer journey:

  • While behind the wheel. Services include bad weather alert, speeding alert, dedicated concierge and even an alert that is activated if the car leaves a pre-defined “safe area” (family “control” options for young or old members of the family). Discovery‘s approach in this field is highly relevant and includes an anti-theft service that signals to the client if the driver has a different driving style compared with the usual one;
  • In case of an incident. Here the Italian market is considered to be an international best practice because of how it has perfected the usage of telematics data to manage services. Many companies here have invested in creating a valuable customer experience by involving partners specialized in assistance. The solutions provided in case of an incident start with contacting the client and — depending on the gravity of the event — continue with sending help directly and taking care of all the logistic and case management problems that can arise. Innovation is now focusing more on simplifying the FNOL (first notice of loss) procedure. One such example is Ania, Italian Association of Insurers, which has announced for 2016 the launch of an app for FNOL.
  • While the car is parked. Beyond locating and recovering the car in case of theft, the blackbox can send alerts when the vehicle is moved or damaged in any way. This also allows a driver to locate a parked vehicle. There are three Italian companies – TUA, Cattolica and Cargeas – that have recently launched innovative value propositions for parked cars. One of the best practices is the street sweeping alert by Metromile.

In this new service ecosystem, insurers will find themselves forced to co-compete (that is collaborate and compete) with different actors that are active in the connected car sector.

Italy is at the moment one of the most advanced countries in terms of service development connected to telematics; they have become mainstream, not just a niche. At the end of 2014, telematics represented 15% of motor insurance sales and renewals in Italy, reaching 30% in some regions, as underlined by a recent analysis by IVASS.

This creates the perfect conditions for the consolidation of approaches driven by insurance companies.

3 Problems Solved by Going Digital

Much has been written about the promise of digital technology to change insurance. But what does this mean in practical terms? Can digital technology reshape traditional patterns of engagement between insurers and their customers that have existed for decades (or centuries)? Can technology create a value proposition that avoids a zero sum game and benefits both insureds and insurers simultaneously?

This post identifies three major opportunity areas for insurance and describes what one insurer, Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance, has delivered to make the transition to a digital insurance platform.

Consumer expectations are increasingly being conditioned by the best practices found on sites such as Amazon, PayPal and eBay. Compared with these experiences, the traditional insurance process presents insurers with a number of challenges. Three problematic areas are:

  • Buying is periodic: In the majority of sales, insurance is purchased infrequently. In some lines of business, such as life insurance, it may only be bought once (and used only once!). In personal lines, annual or semiannual renewals are automated, and a customer may never speak with an agent or a representative of an insurer. This lack of contact limits the opportunity for a distributor or an insurance company to establish a significant relationship with a customer and personalize the buying experience.
  • Risk is poorly managed: Sales may be periodic, but risks are continuous. Business conditions and lifestyles change over time, and specific products, limits and coverages should be introduced at strategic times to respond appropriately. Changes in conditions – when a contractor offers a new type of construction, or a commuter in a dense metro area begins working from home and parks his automobile – need to be identified immediately and responded to appropriately. In an ideal insurance scenario, risks are managed on a continuous basis. However, in the current model, active risk management is a high-touch, high-cost service. Low premiums on products such as small business insurance provide little incentive for agents to service the risk management needs of customers appropriately. As a result, too often, insureds unintentionally self-insure. Many a claim submission includes the comment, “I have insurance; I thought I [or my business] was covered!”
  • Payment, not avoidance, is the focus: The best loss is the one that is avoided altogether. However, the core of most traditional insurance products is to compensate an insured financially for a loss caused by a covered peril. This results in an emphasis on paying claims, not avoiding losses. While insurers are very familiar with the typical causes of loss, their customers generally are not aware of how their day-to-day behavior affects their loss exposure. Consumers and business owners do not typically evaluate their behaviors, lifestyles, operations or choices in light of loss potential and, thus, participate in behaviors that expose them to loss. For example, individuals choose to post vacation pictures on public forums such as Facebook, which increases their exposure to theft at their vacant home.

Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance (TMNF) began addressing the periodic sales challenge in 2010 by moving to a more continuous delivery platform. Offering personal lines insurance in the Japanese market, the company found that its traditional products did not allow it to sell to clients on a frequent basis. To change this dynamic, the company combined new technology with updated insurance products to fundamentally change the traditional process of customer engagement. The company developed a series of one-time, short-term insurance solutions that addressed targeted needs such as travel, skiing and one-day automobile insurance. The company partnered with a leading telecommunication provider, NTTdocomo, to sell these on mobile telephones. The buying experience requires very little customer input of information (because the phone company has most of the required demographic information), and payment for the policy is part on the next phone bill.  Over time, the product set has expanded into health coverages and now takes advantage of continuous health tracking technology. These make wellness recommendations to users on a daily basis and has helped TMNF make the transition from a periodic insurance provider to an active participant in its customers’ lives.

Leading insurers are beginning to discover how to innovate with technology and product to change traditional trade-offs and deliver higher-value solutions to their customers. In subsequent posts, some solutions to the challenges of suboptimal risk management and loss avoidance will be detailed.