Tag Archives: usage-based insurance

End of the Road for OBD in UBI Plans?

I recently attended a telematics event in Brussels and had an interesting discussion about the future of on-board diagnostics (OBD) in auto insurance. I have been in the European telematics usage-based insurance (UBI) space for a long time and have seen all sorts of solutions adopted by insurers when launching programs to consumers: hidden black boxes, windscreen devices, battery-mounted devices and tags, all with different types of success.

I have rarely seen OBDs succeed. In theory, there are benefits from reading vehicle data and being connected to the car, but the reality has proven massively different.

First of all, OBDs prove to be inconvenient for consumers. Each vehicle has a different position for the port, and unless consumers are carefully guided they simply won’t find it. If they do, the ports can be in inconvenient places, which either makes the device an eyesore in the car or annoying because it can detach when the driver gets into and out of the car. Some less-expensive OBD models, without GPS and GSM, can be paired with phones, but even this experience has never been straightforward due to different Bluetooth standards. So the promise of self-installing really did not work out.

Car manufacturers don’t help the situation. They continuously update their vehicle software, which can cause compatibility problems for OBD makers every time a new model comes to market. Guess who discovers this first? Consumers.

OBDs proved to be inconvenient for insurers. When insurers launch a new UBI program, they want to make sure the data is standardized across all available vehicles. But with all their issues with compatibility and installation, OBDs in Europe have never been able to deliver the standardization that make the driving data interesting for insurers on a large scale.

See also: Advanced Telematics and AI

OBDs have had some success in countries like the U.S., mainly due to different OBD data standards, bigger cars and more consumer awareness. But even in the U.S., insurers are abandoning OBDs for smartphones, which can provide better customer experiences and adoption rates.

But perhaps most damaging of all, car makers are starting to limit access to the OBD port to protect consumers from hackers and bad experiences. Ultimately, the port has been created for diagnostics purposes years ago but lately used by hardware providers for different purposes. Organizations interested in accessing vehicle data will probably be driven by OEMs directly to access driving data from the cloud with highly secure access systems – not from the vehicle itself.

This is why we won’t see many insurers launching new OBD-based UBI programs.

4 Insurers’ Great Customer Experiences

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

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

1. Slice – Creating insurance products for new realities.

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

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

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

See also: Who Controls Your Customer Experience?  

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

2. Lemonade – Practicing the golden rule.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also: Smart Things and the Customer Experience  

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

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

UBI Has Failed, but Telematics…Wow!

Insurance telematics has been out there for more than 20 years. Many insurers have tried to play with the technology, but few have succeeded in using the data available from connected telematics devices. The potential of this technology was misunderstood, and best practices have remained almost unknown, as it was not common in the insurance sector to look for innovation in other geographies, such as Italy, where progress has been made.

But the insurance sector is being overtaken by a desire to change, and it’s becoming more common to see innovation scouting taking place on an international level. In the last two years, billions of dollars have been invested in insurance startups; innovation labs and accelerators have popped up; and many insurance carriers have created internal innovation units.

On the other hand, I’m starting to hear a new wave of disillusion about the lack of traction of insurtech initiatives, the failure of some of them, or insurtech startups radically changing from their original business models.

In a world that tends toward hyperconnectivity and the infiltration of technology into all aspects of society, I’m firmly convinced all insurance players will be insurtech—meaning they all will be organizations where technology will prevail as the key enabler for the achievement of strategic goals.

See also: Telematics Has 2 Key Lessons for Insurtechs  

Starting from this premise, I’d like to focus on two main points:

  1. The ability of the insurance sector to innovate is incredibly higher than the image commonly perceived.
  2. While not all insurtech innovations will work, a few of them will change the sector.

In support of the first point, consider the trajectory of digital insurance distribution. The German Post Office first experimented with remote insurance sales at the beginning of the 1980s in Berlin and Düsseldorf using Bildschirmtext (data transmitted through the telephone network and the content displayed on a television set). Almost 60% of auto insurance coverage is now sold online in the U.K., and comparison websites are the “normal” way to purchase an auto insurance policy. In few other sectors is one able to see comparable penetration of digital distribution.

In the health insurance sector, the South African insurer Discovery demonstrates incredible innovation, as well. Over the last 20 years, the insurer has introduced new ways to improve policyholders’ lives using connected fitness devices to track healthy behaviors, generate discounts and deliver incentives for activities supporting wellness and even healthy food purchases. Discovery has been able to replicate this “Vitality” model in different geographies and different business lines and to exploit more and more usage of connected devices in its model each month. Vitalitydrive by Discovery rewards drivers for driving knowledge, driving course attendance and behavior on the road with as much as 50% back on fuel purchases at certain stations.

More than 12 months ago, I published my four Ps approach for selecting the most interesting initiatives within the crowded insurtech space. I believe initiatives will have a better chance to win if they can improve:

  • Productivity (generate more sales).
  • Profitability (improve loss or cost ratios).
  • Proximity (improve customer relationships through numerous customer touchpoints).
  • Persistency (account retention, renewal rate increase).

Those insurtech initiatives will make the insurance sector stronger and more able to achieve its strategic goal: to protect the way people live.

One trend able to generate a concrete impact on all four Ps is connected insurance. This is a broad set of solutions based on sensors for collecting data on the state of an insured risk and on telematics for remote transmission and management of the collected data.

In a survey of ACORD members by the North American Connected Insurance Observatory, 93% of respondents stated this trend will be relevant for the North American insurance sector. It’s easy to understand why. We live in a time of connected cars, connected homes and connected health. Today, there is more than one connected device per person in the world, and by some estimates the figure will reach seven devices per person by 2020. (Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group, “The Internet of Things: How the Next Evolution of The Internet Is Changing Everything,” April 2011, estimates seven per person; AIG/CEA, 2015, estimates five per person.) Others put the number at 50 devices for a family of four by 2022, up from 10 in 2014. The insurance sector cannot stop this trend; it can only figure out how to deal with it.

Moving to the concrete insurance usage of connected devices, the common perception of UBI is not positive at all. This is the current mood after years of exploring the usage of dongles within customer acquisition use cases, where the customer installs a piece of hardware in the car for a few months and the insurer proposes a discount based on the analysis of trips. This partially (only for a few months) connected car approach is based on the usage of data to identify good drivers, with the aim of keeping them as clients through a competitive price offer. In 2015, around 3.3 million cars in the U.S. sent in data to an insurance company in some way, representing less than 1.5% of the market.

In contrast, another market used telematics in a completely different way—and it succeeded. Almost 20% of auto insurance policies sold and renewed in the last quarter of 2016 in Italy had a telematics device provided by an insurer based on the IVASS data. The European Connected Insurance Observatory—the European chapter of the insurance think tank I created, consisting of more than 30 European insurers, reinsurers and tech players with an active presence in the discussion from their Italian branches—estimated that 6.3 million Italian customers had a telematics policy at the end of 2016.

Some insurers in this market were able to use the telematics data to create value and share it with customers. The most successful product with the largest traction is based on three elements:

  • A hardware device provided by the insurer with auto liability coverage, self-installed by the customer on the battery under the car’s hood.
  • A 20% upfront flat discount on annual auto liability premium.
  • A suite of services that goes beyond support in the case of a crash to many other different use cases—stolen vehicle recovery, car finder, weather alerts—with a service fee around €50 charged to the customer.

This approach is not introducing any usage-based insurance elements but is an approach clearly able to satisfy the most relevant needs of a customer:

  • Saving money on a compulsory product. Research shows that pricing is relevant in customer choice.
  • Receiving support and convenience at the moment of truth—the claims moment. Insurers are providing a better customer experience after a crash using the telematics data. Just think of how much information can be gathered directly from telematics data without having to question the client.
  • Receiving services other than insurance. That’s something roughly 60% of insurance customers look forward to and value, according to Bain’s research on net promoter scores published last year.

Let’s analyze this approach from an economic perspective:

  • The fee to the customer is close to the annual technology cost for the hardware and services. The €50 mentioned above represents more than 5% of the insurance premium for the risky clients paying an annual premium higher than €1,000. This cluster represents less than 5% of the Italian telematics market. The fee is more than 10% of the premium for the customers paying less than €400. This cluster represents more than 40% of the Italian telematics market.
  • The product is a constant, daily presence in the car, with the driver, with no possibility of turning it off. While the product ensures support in case of a crash, it is also a tremendous deterrent for anyone tempted to make a fraudulent claim, as well as for drivers engaging in risky behavior otherwise hidden from the insurer.
  • The telematics portfolio has shown on average 20% lower claims frequency on a risk-adjusted basis than the non-telematics portfolio, based on the analysis done by the Italian Association of Insurers.
  • Insurer best practices have achieved additional savings on the average cost of claims by introducing a claims management approach as soon as a crash happens and by using the objective reconstruction of the crash dynamic to support the claim handler’s decisions.
  • A suite of telematics services is delivered to the customer, along with a 25% upfront discount on the auto liability premium.

So, best practices allowed carriers to maximize return on investment in telematics technology by using the same data coming from the black box to activate three different value creation levers: value-added services paid for by the customer, risk selection and loss control. The value created was shared with the customer through the upfront discount. The successful players obtained a telematics penetration larger than 20% and experienced continuous growth of their telematics portfolios.

See also: Telematics: Moving Out of the Dark Ages?  

These insurers were able to orchestrate an ecosystem of partners to deliver a “customer-centric” auto insurance value proposition, satisfying the three main needs of customers—or at least those of “good” customers. Compared with many approaches currently being experimented with in different business lines around the world, where the insurance value proposition is simply enlarged by adding some services, this insurtech approach is also leveraging the insurers’ unique competitive advantage—the insurance technical P&L—to create a virtuous value-sharing mechanism based on the telematics data.

The story of the Italian auto telematics market shows how insurtech adoption will make the insurance sector stronger and better able to achieve its strategic goals: to protect the ways in which people live and organizations work

This article originally appeared on Carrier Management.

Rethinking the Case for UBI in Auto

Several well-meaning experts in this space have written about the unsustainability of usage-based insurance (UBI) programs due to high costs and low returns. They argue that, when you add up all of the acquisition, technology and administrative expenses, as well as premium discounts or other incentives, insurers would need to see a significant (read, unrealistic) decrease in loss ratios just to “break even.” I’ve seen figures as high as 25%.

This line of thinking assumes that insurers are evaluating their UBI programs with the same criteria they use to evaluate any new business initiative, which is some variation of a return-on-investment (ROI) formula using future cash flow analysis and managing to a minimum required threshold set by the chief financial officer. Sound familiar? Optimally, the decrease in loss ratio will be supplemented by an increase in policyholder retention and market-share growth, which in time would allow you to manage to your ROI objective.

However, by evaluating and measuring opportunity cost and leveraging other progressive metrics such as policyholder engagement, insurers struggling to grow their UBI programs should be able to get the continued support they need from executives to see their programs through to success.

See also: Insurtech: How to Keep Insurance Relevant

Setting UBI Up for Success

The challenge with UBI is in building a large enough base of active policyholders over a long time (say, 3-plus years) to allow for meaningful measurement of the impact of loss ratio improvement.

To offer perspective on this, I’m reminded of a well-made and still highly applicable argument made by Clayton Christensen nearly 10 years ago in the Harvard Business Review. His aptly titled 2008 article, “Innovation Killers: How Financial Tools Destroy Your Capacity to Do New Things,” argues that one of the most misapplied paradigms of financial decision-making relates to fixed and sunk costs. In most companies, managers are biased toward leveraging existing resources that are likely to become obsolete quickly, and therein lies the rub – the strategy group is often split from finance, when in fact the two should be fully intertwined and moving forward with the goal of ensuring the long-term competitiveness of the business.

Because that’s not likely to happen any time soon in most organizations, what’s the next best alternative when you’re being challenged by your management team for continued justification of your UBI program spending? I’m going to give you a couple of ideas.

First, measure the opportunity cost of not continuing to innovate and present market-validated data to back your case. You can accomplish this by researching and compiling data on future projections of declining auto premiums, shrinking demographics of traditional car buyers and rapidly increasing severity loss costs. CCC’s 2017 Crash Course report, for example, provides in-depth analysis of repair costs, telematics, casualty trends and myriad other factors that contribute to the performance of the industry. Other research you can leverage includes the success stories of national UBI market players via their annual reports, as well as recent research from analyst firms and reinsurers on the proven business impacts of telematics over time.

To quote Christensen again in the above-mentioned article: “The projected value of an innovation must be assessed against a range of scenarios, the most realistic of which is often a deteriorating competitive and financial future.” I think that pretty much speaks for itself in terms of the potential value of moving your UBI program into high gear. It took less than 10 years for 95% of insurers to adopt credit-based rating variables, and there is no reason to think that the adoption of driving behavior variables via telematics should be any different.

Second, focus on a shorter-term performance metric that is easy to measure and highly important on one or more long-term traditional metrics. A good candidate for this is customer engagement, measured simply as the number of times a UBI participant interacts with your mobile app or web dashboard on a monthly or weekly basis. This metric has been proven to have a direct correlation to higher retention and increased customer lifetime revenue. In fact, CCC’s case studies with its telematics customers have shown an average increase of 30% in retention rates for UBI policyholders vs. non-UBI policyholders, with consumers interacting an average of 2.4 times per month via mobile.

See also: Is Usage-Based Insurance a Bubble?  

To ensure continuing success in your program, you’ll want to determine which high-impact motivators are most successful in driving customer engagement. The ability to do A/B and multivariate testing in pilots or soft launches is key in helping you rapidly and effectively find which motivators are most effective for the segments you are targeting. Open telematics platforms that allow you to easily set up and administrate these types of tests via a user-friendly web interface is critical here. Furthermore, having the flexibility to rapidly test market sentiment among your agents across various segments of your business can yield greater insight and allow you to maximize your participation rates and Net Promoter Scores.

By seeking out and finding valuable metrics to support traditional innovation business cases, you can help win the internal support you need to continue to scale and grow your UBI program. At the end of the day, you simply can’t afford to be anything but a  first-string player in this high-stakes game.

It’s Time to Accelerate Digital Change

For global insurers, digital transformation and disruptive innovation have gone from being vague futuristic concepts to immediate action items on senior leaders’ strategic agendas. New competitive threats, continuing cost pressures, aging technology, increasing regulatory requirements and generally lackluster financial performance are among the forces that demand significant change and entirely new business models.

Other external developments — the steady progress toward driverless cars, the rapid emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) and profound demographic shifts — are placing further pressure on insurers. A common fear is that new market entrants will do to insurance what Uber has done to ride hailing, Amazon has done to retail and robo advisers are doing to investment and wealth management.

Yes, “digital transformation” has become an overused term beloved by industry analysts, consultants and pundits in the business press. Yes, it can mean different things to different companies. However, nearly every insurer on the planet — no matter its size, structure or particular circumstances — should undertake digital transformation immediately. This is true because of ever-rising consumer expectations and the insurance sector’s lagging position in terms of embracing digital.

The good news is that many early adopters and fast followers have already demonstrated the potential to generate value by embedding digital capabilities deeply and directly into their business models. Even successful pilot programs have been of limited scope. By addressing narrowly defined problems or one specific part of the business, they have delivered limited value. Formidable cultural barriers also remain; most insurers are simply not accustomed or equipped to move at the speed of digital. Similarly, few, if any, insurers have the talent or workforce they need to thrive in the industry’s next era.

Because the value proposition for digital transformation programs reaches every dimension of the business, it can drive breakthrough performance both internally (through increased efficiency and process automation) and externally (through increased speed to market and richer consumer and agent experiences). Therefore, insurers must move boldly to devise enterprise-scale digital strategies (even if they are composed of many linked functional processes and applications) and “industrialize” their digital capabilities — that is, deploy them at scale across the business.

This paper will explore a range of specific use cases that can produce the breakthrough performance gains and ROI insurers need.

From core transformation to digital transformation

Recognizing the need to innovate and the limitations of existing technology, many insurers undertook core transformation programs. These investments were meant to help insurers set foot in the digital age, yet represented a very first step or foundation so insurers could use basic digital communications, paperless documents, online data entry, mobile apps and the like. These were necessary steps, as the latest EY insurance consumer research shows that more than 80% of customers are willing to use digital and remote contact channels (including web chat, email, mobile apps, video or phone) in place of interacting with insurers via agents or brokers.

More advanced technologies, which can enable major efficiency gains and cost improvements for basic service tasks, also require stronger and more flexible core systems. Chatbot technology, for instance, can deliver considerable value in stand-alone deployments (i.e., without being fully integrated with core claims platforms). However, the full ROI cannot be achieved without integration.

For many insurers, core transformation programs are still underway, even as insurers recognize a need to do more. Linking digital transformation programs to core transformation can help insurers use resources more effectively and strengthen the business case. Waiting for core transformation programs to be completed and then taking up the digital transformation would likely result in many missed performance improvement and innovation opportunities, as well as higher implementation costs.

One key challenge is the industry’s lack of standardized methodologies and metrics to assess digital maturity. With unclear visibility, insurance leaders will have a difficult time knowing where to prioritize investments or recognizing the most compelling parts of the business case for digital transformation.

But, because digital transformation is a long journey, most insurers are best served by a phased or progressive approach. This is not to suggest that culturally risk-averse insurers be even more cautious. Rather, it is to acknowledge that complete digital transformation at one go can’t be managed; there are simply too many contingencies, dependencies and risks that must be accounted for.

See also: The Key to Digital Innovation Success  

Insurers must be focused and bold within their progressive approach to digital transformation, as it is the way to generate quick wins and create near-term value that can be invested in the next steps. Each step along the digital maturity curve enables future gains. Rather than waiting to be disrupted, truly digital insurers move boldly, testing and learning in pursuit of innovation and redesigning operations, engaging customers in new ways and seeking out new partners.

Digital transformation across the insurance value chain: a path to maturity and value creation

Digital transformation delivers tangible and intangible value across the insurance value chain, with specific benefits in six key areas:

It’s important to emphasize speed and agility as essential attributes of the digital insurer. Even the most innovative firms must move quickly if they are to fully capitalize on their innovations — a concept that applies across the entire value chain. The idea is to launch microservices faster and embrace modernized technology where possible. For instance, deploying cloud infrastructures will enable some parts of the business to scale up and scale down faster, without disrupting other parts of the business with “big dig” implementations.

The dependencies and limitations of legacy technology are also worth reiterating. Insurers that can integrate process innovations and new tools with existing systems — and do so efficiently and without introducing operational risk — will gain a sustainable competitive advantage.

The following digital transformation scorecards reflect how the benefits apply to different technologies and initiatives.

Omni-channel

Today’s consumers are naturally omni-channel, researching products online, recommending and talking about them with friends and contacts on social media and then buying them via mobile apps or at brick-and-mortar retail locations. Basically, they want a wide range of options — text, email, web chat, phone and sometimes in-person. A better omni-channel environment may also enable insurers to place new products in front of potential customers sooner and more directly than in the past.

Insurers must look beyond merely supporting multiple channels and find the means to allow customers to move seamlessly between channels, or even within channels (such as when they move from chatting with a bot to chatting with a human agent). It is difficult to overstate how challenging it is to create the capabilities (both technological and organizational) to recognize customers and what they are seeking to do, without forcing them to re-enter their passwords or repeat their questions.

There are many other subtleties to master, including context. For example, a customer trying to connect via social media to voice concerns is not likely to respond well to a default ad or up-sell offering. Omni-channel is increasingly a baseline capability that insurers must establish to achieve digital maturity.

Big data analytics

The application of advanced analytical techniques to large and ever-expanding data sets is also foundational for digital insurers. For instance, predictive analytics can identify suitable products for customers in particular regions and demographic cohorts that go far beyond the rudimentary cross-selling and up-selling approaches used by many insurers. Big data analytics also hold the key for creating personalized user experiences.

Analytics that “listen” to customer inputs and recognize patterns can identify opportunities for new products that can be launched quickly to seize market openings. Deep analysis of the customer base may make clear which distribution channels (including individual agents and brokers) are the best fit for certain types of leads, leading to increased sales productivity.

The back-office value proposition for big data analytics can also be built on superior recognition of fraudulent claims, which are estimated to be around 10% of all submitted claims, with an impact of approximately $40 billion in the U.S. alone. Reducing that number is an example of how digital transformation efforts can be self-funding. Plus, the analytics capabilities established in anti-fraud units can be extended into other areas of the business.

Big data is also reshaping the risk and compliance space in important ways. As insurers move toward more precise risk evaluations (including the use of data from social channels), they must also be cognizant of shifting regulations regarding data security and consumer privacy. It won’t be easy ground to navigate.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The onset of smart homes gives insurers a unique opportunity to adopt more advanced and effective risk mitigation techniques. For instance, intelligent sensors can monitor the flow of water running through pipes to protect against losses caused by a broken water pipe. Similar technology can be used to monitor for fire or flood conditions or break-ins at both private homes and commercial properties.

The IoT clearly illustrates the new competitive fronts and partnership opportunities for insurers; leading technology and consumer electronics providers have a head start in engaging consumers via smart appliances and thermostats. Consumers, therefore, may not wish to share the same or additional data with their insurers. Insurers may also be confronted by the data capture and management challenges related to IoT and other connected devices.

Telematics

Sometimes grouped with IoT, data from sensors and telematics devices have applications across the full range of insurance lines:

  • Real-time driver behavior data for automotive insurance
  • Smart appliances — including thermostats and security alarms — within homeowners insurance
  • Fitness trackers for life and health insurance
  • Warehouse monitors and fleet management in commercial insurance

The data streams from these devices are invaluable for more precise underwriting and more responsive claims management, as well as product innovation. Telematics data provides the foundation for usage-based insurance (UBI), which is sometimes called “pay-as-you-drive” or “pay-as-you-live.” Premium pricing could be based on actual usage and driving habits, with discounts linked to miles driven, slow or moderate speeds and safe braking patterns, for instance.

Consider, too, how in-vehicle devices enable a fully automated claims process:

  • Telematics data registers an automobile accident and automatically triggers a first notice of loss (FNOL) entry.
  • Claims information is updated through text-based interactions with drivers or fleet managers.
  • Claimants could be offered the opportunity to close claims in 60 minutes or less.

Such data could also be used to combat claims fraud, with analysis of the links between severity of the medical condition and the impact of the accident. Some insurers are already realizing the benefits of safe driving discounts and more effective fraud prevention. These telematics-driven processes will likely become standard operating procedure for all insurers in the near future.

Voice biometrics and analysis

Audio and voice data may be the most unstructured data of all, but it too offers considerable potential value to those insurers that can learn to harness it. A first step is to use voice biometrics to identify customers when they call into contact centers, saving customers the inconvenience of entering policy numbers and passwords, information that may not be readily at hand.

Other insurers seeking to better understand their customers may convert analog voice data from call center interactions into digital formats that can be scanned and analyzed to identify customer emotions and adjust service delivery or renewal and cross-selling offers accordingly. The manual quality control process checks for less than 1% of the recordings, which is insufficient. Through automation, the entire recording can be assessed to identify improvement areas.

See also: 4 Rules for Digital Transformation  

Drones and satellites

Early-adopting insurers are already using drones and satellites to handle critical tasks in underwriting and claims. In commercial insurance, for instance, drones can conduct site inspections, capturing thermal imagery of facilities or work sites. Their reviews can be as specific as looking for roof cracks, old or damaged boilers and other physical plan defects that can pose claims risks.

Within homeowners lines, satellites can capture data to analyze roofs, chimneys and surrounding terrain so that insurers can determine which homeowner they want to add to underwrite, as well as calculate competitive and profitable premiums. When linked to digital communications tools, drone and satellite data can even trigger notifications to customers of new price options or policy adjustments.

Within claims, drones and satellites can handle many tasks previously handled by human adjustors across all lines of business. Such remote assessments can reduce claims processing time by a considerable degree. This method is particularly effective in situations such as after floods, fires and natural disasters, where direct assessment is not possible.

While many transformation programs that use drones and satellites remain in the experimental stages due to operational challenges, it is possible that they can improve the efficiency and accuracy of underwriting and claims information gathering by 40%.

Blockchain

Blockchain provides a foundation for entirely new business models and product offerings, such as peer-to-peer insurance, thanks to its ability to provide virtual assistance for quoting, claims handling and other tasks. It also provides a new level of information transparency, accuracy and currency, with easier access for all parties and stakeholders in an insurance contract. With higher levels of autonomy and attribution, blockchain’s architectural properties provide a strong digital foundation to drive use of mobile-to-mobile transactions and swifter, secure payment models, improved data transparency and reduced risk of duplication or exposure management.

Insurance companies are interested in converting selected policies from an existing book to a peer-to-peer market. A blockchain network is developed as a mechanism for integrating this peer-to-peer market with a distributed transaction ledger, transparent auditability and “smart” executable policy.

E-aggregators are another emerging business model that is likely to gain traction, because it is appealing to both insurers and the customers. Insurers can offer better pricing due to reduced commissions compared with a traditional agent-based distribution model, while customers gain freedom to compare different policies based on better information. Of course, e-aggregators (whether fully independent or built through an existing technology platform) will require a sophisticated and robust digital platform for gathering information from different insurance companies to present it to consumers in the context of a clear, intuitive experience. It is also important for insurance companies to transfer information to e-aggregators rapidly; otherwise, there is the risk they will miss out on sales opportunities. This is why blockchain is the right technology for connecting e-aggregators and insurers.

To see the full report from EY, click here.