Participating in ITC2021 was a blast! It was great to see so many people in person for the first time in a couple of years. But aside from the joy everyone was experiencing in just being together, there was a serious undercurrent to the event. In fact, as I polled individuals on their impressions of the event, many discussed how the participants came with a mission... a purpose… intention… and were serious about fulfilling their individual missions by capitalizing on the convergence of so many innovative companies and thought leaders.
If nothing else, ITC2021 demonstrated that innovation is alive and well in insurance, and the transformation of the industry is accelerating.
In his keynote, Evan Greenberg from Chubb stressed that all the technology advances do not change the fundamental nature of the insurance business – it is still about “the art and science of taking risk.” I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I have made similar statements myself.
Looking at the P&C industry, one of the overarching trends is the move to more and more specialization. This translates into a deeper understanding of the risks faced by individual and business customers – not just in the large pool but at a micro-segmentation level, as well. The insights and experiences about those risks translate into new products and coverages; enhanced loss control engineering and safety advice; and specialist firms to distribute, underwrite and service the products. This is not to say that the multi-line, general purpose companies will falter. On the contrary, they are participating in this general trend in each of the segments they serve.
Wait – I was supposed to be talking about the cool technology solutions and the innovations that are changing the industry, right? How did I get off track? As I see it, the amazing advances in technology, the innovative applications of technology by insurtechs and others, and the emergence of startups are actually quite consistent with and supportive of the increasing focus on risk expertise (and the value of insurance professionals). We are not going to automate away the roles of agents, underwriters, adjusters and others.
See also: Tomorrow’s Insurance Is Connected
There is no question that I was very excited to learn about the evolution and success of many insurtechs, discover new entrants with interesting propositions and track the innovations that incumbent players are incorporating into their solutions. They are catalysts for industry transformation. And they do offer great potential to automate tasks and workflows, provide new insights to improve decision making and provide opportunities for insurers to create new value propositions for customers.
But in the end, this industry is all about the people. Technologies will augment human expertise to improve efficiencies, enable new products and design better ways to sell and service insurance. But the strengths of the industry have always been its people and its passion for helping individuals and businesses to address the risks inherent in their lives and business operations. That passion was evident in the many serious and purposeful discussions that took place over the three days in Las Vegas.