Tag Archives: trov

The Industry’s New Dynamic Duo

Insurers are full of economy-speak these days. We have the gig economy, the digital economy, the data economy and the sharing economy. There is the economy of one, the economy of the many, the service economy and, of course, the experience economy. These concepts are all real and vital considerations for insurers, yet most deal with the implications of external impact, asking, “How will the world affect our business?”

In one striking case, however, we are faced with an alternative question: How will our operations affect our world? We are in the midst of the digital age race where survival and winning will require rapid adaptability and innovation. The digital age represents a seismic shift in the insurance industry, pushing a sometimes slow-to-adapt industry by challenging the traditional business models and assumptions of the past 30-50 years. The business models of the past will not meet the needs or expectations of the future for digital insurance. So insurers will be drawing upon the strengths of a new type of economy that will provide internal energy to the organization and competitive drive to the industry.

This economy is the platform economy.

Cloud platforms are the future because they are the core of revolutionized business models. They are proven. They are intelligent. They combine sought-after technologies. Best of all, they fit an industry that has been trying to become consumer-centric.

Of course, there is an issue. The cloud-based, digital-ready platforms within the platform economy are easiest to plant in uncultivated environments. Most established insurers are in the thick of modernization of a different type and scale. When faced with the options, many will choose digital answers that are painted over modernized frameworks. At the same time, they will be flirting with the idea that a real platform shift may represent a hyper-jump into insurance’s agile future.

The Rise of the Platform Economy

In our new thought leadership, Cloud Business Platform: The Path to Digital Insurance 2.0, we note that the use of big data, artificial intelligence and cloud computing is changing the nature of work and the structure of the economy. Companies such as Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Google, Salesforce and Uber are creating online structures that enable a wide range of activities. They have opened the doors to radical changes in how we work, socialize, create value in the economy and compete for profits. This is why a digital platform economy is emerging.

See also: Busting Myths on the Cloud (Part 2)  

Cloud business platforms represent a new era of impact and industry upheaval. A cloud business platform is one that can run key business applications and services to match the reality and requirements of the current business environment. That environment is characterized by constant disruption, heavy competition and growing market demands. Insurtech entrants are embarking upon business and technology initiatives that exploit untapped markets and address under- or un-met needs. Incumbents with outdated technologies are at a huge disadvantage because they are unable to respond with the flexibility, agility and speed that has become the hallmark of companies that are digital natives.

With investments in this market subset being tracked at just under $16 billion since 2010, insurers need to immediately take notice. Successful companies across all industries leverage technologies such as mobile, social and cloud to make better decisions, automate processes, strengthen their connection with customers/partners/channels and pursue innovation. They do all of this at an increasingly rapid pace, positioning them as “digital first” companies. The acceleration in the uptake of digital technologies and cloud foundations is a crucial first step to entering into the platform world and the shift to a new era of insurance we call Digital Insurance 2.0.

The implication from all this is that the digital age economy is powered by the platform revolution.

Digital Insurance 2.0

Traditional insurers must have digital daydreams now and then. What if we could have started like Amazon instead of like a traditional insurer? What if we had a digital native architecture like Netflix? Why couldn’t we have turned an app into a multi-billion-dollar business as Uber did? Google was disruptive because its framework and model were created to meet the future head on. How do we do what they have done while we are shackled to the constraints of insurance? The advantages these companies enjoy compared to the challenges faced by insurers can make digitalization of insurance seem like an impossible task. The reality is, however, that insurers now have every opportunity for freedom within traditional insurer constraints utilizing a Digital Insurance 2.0 framework.

What are the attributes of Digital Insurance 2.0? In every aspect, digital platforms are driving toward business models with fewer barriers and greater data access with improved flow. Digital insurance  platforms share these traits:

  • Maximized effectiveness across the entire customer journey with deeper, personalized engagement;
  • Process digitization that improves operational efficiencies and customer experience;
  • The ingestion and use of digital data-driven insights for better decision-making and to actively identify customer needs;
  • The ability to rapidly roll out new products and capabilities while expanding into new markets or geographies; and
  • Quick adaptation to rapid changes.

The crucial technology underpinning digital insurance platforms is cloud-based. The idea that a 10-year old technology like cloud computing could provide new opportunities for insurers seems far-fetched.

Cloud platforms, however, have become the option of choice for Greenfield or startup operations that are offering digitally-enabled traditional insurance products — like Lemonade, Slice and TROV. Cloud platforms are the basis of a new generation of core systems based on a micro-services architecture that is needed for innovative new insurance products like on-demand and micro-insurance offerings.

Shifting from Products to Platforms

Since the beginning of automation, the insurance industry has seen fundamental design, architecture and technology shifts in insurance core software solutions. First, we had the monolithic solutions running on the mainframe from the 1960s to early 2000s. This was followed with the best of breed components in early 2000s for policy, billing and claims based on J2EE and service-oriented architecture — but with each still using different business, data and technology architectures. Next, beginning in the early 2010s, came the loosely coupled “suites,” inclusive of the policy, billing and claims components but with a consistent and common business, data and technology architecture.

Yet, through these transitions, they maintained a product-focused business architecture view, emphasizing policy and billing and claims capabilities and with implementation primarily on-premise or in a private hosted environment, often a “pseudo cloud environment.”

Today’s digital shift will require cloud-based platforms that provide a great promise to address new challenges and opportunities that enable insurers to disrupt their markets before they are disrupted. This requires a new thinking of our solutions… one that makes the transition from products to platforms and is underpinned by three key attributes: ecosystem-friendly, centered on customer experience and enabled by cloud computing.

Unfortunately, too many insurers are taking a page from their old business transformation playbooks and are expecting it to work in today’s digital age. They are forging a new path by “paving the old cow paths,” which is simply creating greater complexity while moving in a direction that will not serve them well in the future. Instead, insurers need to look outside their companies to a new cadre of digital leaders and imagine the art of the possible. What can insurers do now that they could not do before because of technology, customer and market boundary changes?  Today’s emerging new competitors are answering these questions ahead of traditional insurers, positioning themselves as the new generation of market leaders in a time of significant disruption and change.

See also: ‘Core in the Cloud’ Reaches Tipping Point  

Fundamentally, to succeed in the digital age, an insurer’s strategy must focus on the following attributes:

  • Customer experience and engagement is priority No. 1 (People)
  • Business innovation is mandatory (Technology)
  • Ecosystems extend value (Market Boundaries)
  • Speed-to-value is the differentiator

For an effective digital transformation, it is important that core, data and digital capabilities are broken out into micro-services. They are then integrated back into the platform to provide a digital experience. Innovative, “digital-first” companies like Google, Amazon, Salesforce, Workday, Uber, Airbnb and Netflix have successfully used this architecture and technology that is disrupting industries. In the case of insurance, digital experiences are enabled by cloud economies of scale — an advantage that many digital-first companies do not have.

Why is this important? Because it will allow insurance companies to more rapidly position themselves in the digital era of Insurance 2.0 and enable them to:

  • Accelerate digital transformation to become digital era market leaders;
  • Accelerate innovation with new business models and products;
  • Accelerate ecosystem opportunities and value; and
  • Avert disruption or extinction by new competition within and outside the industry.

At the heart of this disruption is a shift from Insurance 1.0 to Digital Insurance 2.0 and a growing gap where innovative insurtech or existing insurers are taking advantage of a new generation of buyers with new needs and expectations and are capturing the opportunity to be the next market leaders in the digital age.

The path to a cloud business platform will evolve differently for each insurer undertaking it. Being open to operationalize around the cloud platform’s promise as a new business model paradigm acknowledges the role innovation will continue to play as insurers encounter future insurance ecosystems. The time for plans, preparation and execution is now — recognizing that the gap is widening and the timeframe to respond is closing.

Will established insurers suffer at the hands of tech-savvy, culture-savvy competition, or will they turn their digital daydreams into dynamic realities?

In a rapidly changing insurance market, new competitors do not play by the traditional rules. Insurers need to be a part of rewriting the rules, because there is less risk when you write the new rules.

10 Insurtechs for Superb Engagement

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

Customer engagement leaves much to be desired

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

See also: Core Systems and Insurtech (Part 1)  

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

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

Address the pain points

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also: Insurtech: Unstoppable Momentum  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Insurtech: How to Keep Insurance Relevant

In the age of the fourth industrial revolution, risks are changing. The advent of technology has made digital assets more valuable than physical ones.

In this scenario, the insurance sector has been increasingly left to deal with technological change and disruption and is having to reconsider the way it defines itself. Having had the opportunity to discuss this transformation in more than 15 countries, I have seen that insurtech is helping to redefine the way the insurance industry is perceived.

Insurance is about providing protection for people in life and in employment. It is about providing a contract where someone promises to indemnify another against loss or damage from an uncertain event, as long as a premium is paid to obtain this coverage – the concept has been around since 1347.

It’s unthinkable for an insurer today not to ask how to evolve its business architecture by thinking which modules within the value chain should be transformed or reinvented via technology and data usage. I believe all the players in the insurance arena will be insurtech – that is, organizations where technology will prevail as the key enabler for the achievement of the strategic goals.

See also: Core Systems and Insurtech (Part 1)  

Insurtech startups have received more than $18 billion in funding to date, according to Venture Scanner data. Fantastic teams and interesting new insurance cases have been grabbing the attention of analysts.

Full-stack insurtech startups are generating a lot of excitement in the investor community and attracting relevant funds, and some have achieved stellar valuations, with Oscar, Lemonade, Sonnet, Alan, Element, Zhong An some of the most fascinating players. It looks like the aim of disrupting the status quo, combined with a skepticism about the incumbents’ ability to innovate, is focusing the attention on players to create new insurance products.

A business model adopted by more and more players is the MGA/MGU approach (Managing General Agents/Managing General Underwriter), a way to satisfy investor appetite for players covering a large part of the activities in the insurance value chain and partnering only with an incumbent for receiving underwriting capacity. Trov, Slice, so-sure, Insure the Box, Root, Bought By Many and Prima are some examples of this approach.

I am positive about the ability of the incumbents to innovate, and about the potential for incumbents and insurtech startups to collaborate. This view is based, for example, on the impressive international success of players such as Guidewire and Octo Telematics. I believe service providers for the insurance sector will be more successful in scaling at an international level than the other models described above. This kind of collaboration is leveraging on the incumbents’ technical knowledge and their customers’ trust, which has frequently been underestimated by insurtech enthusiasts. The most relevant opportunity is the collaboration between incumbents and specialized tech players capable of enabling the incumbents’ innovation in the different steps of the business model.

Denim for the awareness, Digital Fineprint for the choice, Neosurance for the purchase, MotionCloud for the claims, Pypestream for the policy management – these are a few players innovating on each step of the customer journey, based on my map to classify the insurtech initiatives.

For insurtech startups to outperform traditional insurance companies, they need to have their business models concentrated in what I call the four axes (4 Ps): productivity, profitability, proximity and persistency.

An excellent example is Discovery Holding, with its Vitality wellbeing program. This has been replicated in different business lines and countries with different business models – they are carriers in some countries, operate joint ventures with local insurers in other regions and are a service provider in other nations. They are using state-of-the-art technologies such as wearables and telematics to create a model based on value creation outperforming on all the four Ps, enabling them to share value with their customers through incentives and discounts.

See also: What’s Your Game Plan for Insurtech?  

Insurtech adoption will make the insurance sector stronger and in that way more able to achieve its strategic goal: to protect the way people’s lives and organizations work.

How to Move to the Post-Digital Age?

We are in the midst of the shift from the information age to the digital age, which is realigning fundamental elements of business that require major adjustments to thrive, let alone survive.

As we noted in our new report, Greenfields, Startups and InsurTech: Accelerating Digital Age Business Modelsnew greenfield and startup competitors are rising from within and outside of every industry, including insurance, to capture the post-digital age business opportunities of the next generation of buyers. By shifting to meet the forces of change, these companies are positioning themselves to be the market leaders in the post-digital age. Those that do not make the shift risk not only the loss of customers but also market share and relevance in the coming new age of insurance.

See also: 6 Charts on Startups, Greenfields, Incubators  

Sometimes, the next big thing isn’t easy to spot. The disruption of the insurance industry is in the early days, so predictions are difficult. Will the new greenfields and startups become the next market leaders? If history is a guide, the answer is yes … some will. Just consider Progressive and how many dismissed it early on. Now it is a top 10 insurer in the U.S. Or consider what has happened in other industries with companies that are defunct because they missed the shift:

  • Streaming video: Blockbuster failed to see this trend. It filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and Netflix is now worth more than $61 billion.
  • Mobile games: In 2011, the president of Nintendo North America suggested that mobile game apps were disposable from a consumer perspective. Today, Pokemon Go has 65 million users. Is that disposable?
  • Apple iPhone: Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer reportedly commented that the first Apple iPhone would not appeal to business customers because it did not have a keyboard and would not be a good email machine. Apple iPhone single-handedly disrupted and redefined multiple industries and continues to do so.
  • Autonomous vehicles: In 2015, Jaguar’s head of R&D stated that autonomous vehicles didn’t consider customers’ cargo. Since then, Jaguar Land Rover has invested $25 million in Lyft to join the autonomous trend.
  • On-premise enterprise software vs. cloud-based SaaS platforms: In 2003, Thomas Siebel of Siebel Systems said Microsoft would roll over Salesforce in the CRM market. In 2005, Oracle acquired Siebel Systems for $5.85 billion. Salesforce’s market cap, in contrast, is more than $60 billion.

Insurance Industry Change and Disruption

At no time in the history of insurance can we find as many game-changing events and a rapid pace of advancement occurring at the same time. At the forefront is the increased momentum for insurtech, and the greenfields and startups within, creating high levels of activity, excitement and concern on the promise and potential of insurance disruption and reinvention.

When you add it all up, the insurance industry has many characteristics that make it an attractive target for aggressive investments in innovation. First, its size is enormous – based on industry data, it is estimated that premiums written are more than $4.7 trillion globally. Second, it faces multiple challenges that offer opportunities for exploitation by nimble, efficient and innovative competitors.

Insurtech advancements and the forces of change see no significant slowdown. The momentum for change that has been building is unstoppable. Industry advancements, cultural trends and IT reactions are gaining speed as they gain strength and a framework for stability and growth. It is pushing a sometimes slow-to-adapt industry by challenging the traditional business assumptions, operations, processes and products, highlighting two distinctively different business models: 1) a pre-digital age model of the past 50-plus years based on the business assumptions, products, processes and channels of the Silent and Baby Boomer generations and 2) a post-digital age model focused on the next generation including the Millennials and Gen Z, as well as many in Gen X.

Greenfields and Startups Make the Boardroom Agenda

The market landscape is rapidly changing. During 2016, Lemonade launched. Metromile decided to become a full-stack insurer, leaving its MGA days behind. New MGAs entered the picture, including Slice, TROV, Quilt, Hippo and Figo Pet Insurance, to name a few.  Existing insurers made market debuts with new startups including Shelter’s Say Insurance with auto insurance for millennials, biBerk from Berkshire Hathaway for direct small commercial lines and Sonnet Insurance as the digital brand from Economical Insurance in Canada, among others.

Add to this the projected shrinking of insurable risk pools due to the emergence of autonomous vehicles, connected homes and wearables and the domino effect of these on other industries, and it’s not hard to imagine a future with traditional carriers fighting over a much smaller pool of customers where only the most efficient, effective and innovative will survive.

As a result, discussion surrounding greenfields, startups and insurtech moved into the board room of every insurer and reinsurer trying to understand how to leverage the shift to the digital age and develop strategies and plans to respond. Yet some insurers have a blind spot in recognizing the competition both from outside and within the industry, and the critical need to begin planning a new post-digital age business model. The result is a growing gap between knowing, planning and doing among leaders and fast followers or laggards, which is rapidly becoming insurmountable due to the pace of change.

Closing the Gap with Greenfield and Startup Business Models

Assuming that most insurers grasp the need for a greenfield and startup mentality to grow, what remains is to aim all efforts toward accomplishing an organizational shift. How do you move your company from the pre-digital age to the post-digital age and close the gap?

It requires leadership to build consensus. It requires vision to aim in the most market-ready direction. And it requires a new business paradigm that will allow for change. We must redefine and re-envision insurance to enable growth and remain competitive.

While many have made progress in replacing legacy systems and traditional business processes, this is not enough. These systems, while modern, were built around pre-digital age business assumptions and models, not to support the range of needs in a post-digital age model driven by a new generation of customers. Like other industries, today’s insurance startups and greenfields need and want options that do not require investment in significant infrastructure or upfront costs and therefore seek a cloud business platform solution to maximize options and minimize costs and capital outlay.

See also: How to Plant in the Greenfields  

A modern cloud business platform provides an advantage for greenfields and startups, breaking down traditional boundaries, IT constraints and age-old business assumptions about doing business, while building up the ability to rapidly develop and launch new products and services. The platform is a robust set of technology, mobile, digital, data and core capabilities in the cloud with an ecosystem of innovative partners (many insurtech technology startups) that provides the ability to launch and grow a business rapidly and cost effectively.

Will established insurers suffer at the hands of tech-savvy, culture-savvy competition? Some may, but only if they allow themselves to. There will be constant pressure from greenfields and startups to outdo each other in the race to better meet the needs and demands of a new generation of buyers in a post-digital age for insurance.

For traditional insurance companies, the need to re-invent and transform the business is no longer a matter of if, but of when.  Insurance leaders should ask themselves: Do we have a strategy that considers transformation of both the legacy business and creation of a new business for the future? Who are our future customers and what will they demand? Who are our emerging new competitors? Where are we focusing our resources…on the business or on the infrastructure?

A new generation of insurance buyers with new needs and expectations creates both a challenge and an opportunity that a greenfield and startup business model can capitalize on to incubate, launch and grow. The time for plans, preparation and execution is now — recognizing that the gap is widening and the timeframe to respond is closing.

What Industry Gets Wrong on Big Data

Recently, I wrote about a startup called Aviva. (My comments were based on an article I read.) Aviva’s CEO said, “What’s our long-term goal? To go from ask-it-once to ask-it-never — so customers don’t have to answer any questions at all.”

How can coverage be booked without asking ANY questions? Why, using big data, of course.

Wouldn’t a better goal be to first ask the necessary questions to assist consumers in identifying their unique exposures to loss, then match those exposures (where possible) with the proper insurance package to minimize the likelihood that a consumer will experience a serious or catastrophic financial loss?

At my semi-annual checkups, my doctor asks me a lot of questions. Would it be an improvement if he didn’t ask me any questions? Maybe for his bottom line, but not for mine. Who can’t spare an hour once a year to prevent financial ruin?

See also: Forget Big Data; You Need Fast Data  

In another blog post, I wrote about the startup Slice, which apparently plans to write on-demand home-sharing and ride-sharing insurance without an application. How? Presumably by using big data, of course. In still another blog post, I wrote about Lemonade, which writes homeowners insurance using a phone app without a lot of pesky questions that are designed to identify exposure gaps of individuals and families. Lemonade, too, seems to be relying on black-box algorithms and our friend big data.

Let’s take Slice. It claims:

“All the information that insurance carriers ask you is all publicly available. So instead of taking up your time to give us this info, we use our clever SliceBots to collect it.”

So, ALL of the information that Slice needs to properly insure all of your unique exposures to loss is publicly available?

At one time, I saw a Zillow logo on a startup’s web site. Is that where, for example, homeowners’ information might be obtained? Or might such a startup go directly to tax and other records where this information is obtained? How reliable is this “big data”? Is it vetted at all if customers are not asked any questions?

Still another startup is Hippo. Backed by a number of investors, including Trulia, this is how Hippo’s big data approach works, according to an article from Forbes:

“According to the company, with Hippo, consumers can go from quote to purchase in minutes, as quotes are delivered in 60 seconds after answering three simple questions. Customers can get a personalized Hippo quote online, by phone or even through Facebook Messenger. The company leverages technology and data from multiple sources (such as property records, permit filings and aerial photography of roof conditions) to streamline the application process and provide ongoing risk monitoring. By leveraging data, Hippo saves customers time, while also garnering more accurate information that cannot be provided from subjective human answers alone. By cutting out the middleman, more accurately assessing risk and increasing technology efficiencies, Hippo is able to pass savings on to consumers.”

There happens to be a home for sale in my neighborhood. Out of curiosity, I checked it out on both Zillow and Trulia. Zillow says it’s a 1-story home, Trulia says it has two stories. Zillow says two-and-a-half baths, Trulia says three-and-a-quarter baths. Zillow says the lot is 1.6 acres, Trulia says it’s 0.48 acres. Zillow says the home is 2,968 sq. ft., Trulia says it’s 3,891 sq. ft.

Just in the replacement cost valuation of the home alone, think these discrepancies might make a difference in coverage limits?

See also: Healthcare Needs a Data Checkup  

In my case, I owned a home that was 1,000 sq. ft. larger than the country tax records showed. Over the course of 30-plus years, attic space had been converted to living space, but the records from which “big data” might be drawn were never updated. When discussing this issue in an online forum, one of the participants said Zillow showed his home being 2,400 sq. ft. (the same size in the tax rolls), whereas it’s actually 4,683 sq. ft.

Big data is one thing. Big, BAD data is another. Who is vetting the information, bots and algorithms? Certainly not regulators, given the open-arms welcome one startup got from a state insurance department.

Is anyone listening?

Does anyone care?