Digital Insurance: Technologies and Strategies Driving Insurance into the Connected Age

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Mariana Dumont
Head of USA Operations
Insurance Nexus

 

The ability to accurately discern the past and predict the future based on nothing but data points and the experience of actuaries and adjusters has served the industry well up to now. Insurance is, after all, a multi-billion-dollar, truly global industry. While this remains the case, the landscape is now radically different to the past, thanks in part to the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT). The use of these technologies that collect, record and transmit live data has proliferated exponentially over the past decade, and for a data-reliant industry like insurance, the impact has already been profound.

 

They may already seem ubiquitous but estimates of how many IoT devices will connect our cars, homes, communities, medical services and work lives by the year 2020 range from 30 billion[i] to 50 billion[ii]. Whatever the precise number, this will generate (and already is) a huge amount of data to be analyzed and monetized.

 

This increase in the quality and quantity of available data is already producing some significant outcomes; the process of writing policies can now be far better informed by what is known about the risk level of an individual or entity, as opposed to simply what is known about the claims generated by an entire class of risk. Some carriers have already begun this transition; John Hancock, for example, announced in 2018 that all new life insurance policies must henceforth use digital fitness trackers to monitor policyholders[iii]. Using the high-quality, objective data derived from IoT, it is now possible to assess claims more accurately and efficiently, and in some cases, even prevent them from arising entirely.

 

“IoT is already enabling customers to avoid bad things happening to them. Some people call it prevention. I see it as empowerment of customers.” – Nick Ayrdon, Head of Strategy & Development at Aviva

 

In turn, this is changing how insurers interact with customers, both before and after a claim, with one executive predicting that that we are in fact “shifting from a claims-handling business to a claims prevention one”. As the value proposition of exchanging data for value becomes more concrete, it could become a strong pull-factor driving uptake of connected insurance products. And yet, already operating in an environment of squeezed profits, high regulation and low consumer trust, the industry is witnessing something of a perfect storm at present.

 

There is no question as to whether the global insurance industry is going to go digital, and most of the industry understands why it will. The real problem for most is how it should happen and creating an environment in which they can maximize the value of insurance technology. As Michael Lebor states, this is not simply a case of reorganizing a particular department or function: “In my opinion, IoT is not a product, it’s a paradigm shift, a completely different way for technologies to interact with each other. Devices are going to be talking to each other, there are going to be hubs, and we must leverage that throughout the entire lifecycle of our product, whether for distribution, or on-boarding customers, or using it for claims and first notice of claims. It’s not one product, it’s a holistic way of thinking.”

 

Any transformation of this nature will invariably lead to substantive changes in how insurance carriers operate internally and whereas digital insurance projects were generally siloed to innovation departments in the past, executives agree that is starting to change. While the survey found that only 14% of senior management teams were currently affected by the introduction of digital insurance, the most commonly cited reason was that initiatives had not yet reached the point where it had become necessary (the implication being that management will take a more active stance when projects have scaled sufficiently).

 

Similarly, American Family Business Development Manager, Shaun Wilson, suggests “until there are a lot of devices providing a lot of data about specific risks, the carrier is not going to have the insights about whether or not these devices mitigate risks to any level of significance. That’s the promise of this approach, but nobody has enough data yet to validate the hypothesis.” As carriers leverage connected technology more and the impact on the business deepens, however, we can expect to see greater top-down management and involvement from board level stakeholders[iv].

 

To provide a comprehensive overview of the progress and prospects of Connected Insurance, Insurance Nexus have produced the Connected Insurance Report, an in-depth study of the progress of insurance technology globally, today, and in the future.

 

As the industry begins to understand how it can exploit the possibilities of connected and digital insurance, the Connected Insurance Report has crystalized the concerns of those tasked with turning an unprecedented technological revolution into market-ready products. At first glance, one might assume that the ability to learn more about the risks they are insuring should allow both for policies to closely follow the risk over time, and secondly that the ability to gather more information about a claim will discourage fraud. The net result should therefore be greater profit for companies, and lower premiums for their customers.

 

At second glance, it is just as clear that the picture is much more complicated than that. As we talked to more and more executives, it became apparent that the industry is only just beginning to work through the practical problems it faces. Indeed, questions as basic as the best way to install a sensor in a building are still the subject of lively debate. Ultimately, the world of insurance may be next in line for the kind of creative destruction that the tsunami of digitisation had brought to IT, telecoms, media, retail, hospitality, manufacturing, financial and business services.

 

The Connected Insurance Report was researched and produced by Insurance Nexus in collaboration with the IoT Insurance Observatory. It is the first of its kind to conceive of insurance IoT holistically, as a paradigm shift necessitating changes in insurer business models, organisational structures and technology stacks. Insurance Nexus surveyed the experiences of more than 500 insurers and reinsurers to assess where they sit in the connected insurance market and to extract the challenges they face and their stories of success.

 

Along with a panel of 20 industry leaders who have been operating at the sharp end of the IoT revolution, Insurance Nexus looked at these hurdles and opportunities and pulled them apart to provide readers with the case studies with actionable insights to help guide decision-making as the industry tackles its own strategic milestones.

 

 

Tech infographic

 

[i] https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/telecom/internet/popular-internet-of-things-forecast-of-50-billion-devices-by-2020-is-outdated

[ii] https://www.accenture.com/gb-en/insight-insurance-internet-things

[iii] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-45590293

[iv] https://assets.kpmg/content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2019/03/insurtech-trends-2019.pdf

Life Insurance Companies Investing in Insurtech Accelerators

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Why are so many of the biggest players in the life insurance sector investing substantially in their own insurtech accelerators? They know that these tech companies are creating the future that will help traditional life insurers in their own transformation processes. They also know that it is simply a wise financial investment. Insurtech is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy. Given the flexibility inherent in the startup sphere, these companies are also able to look at perennial concerns from a fresh perspective. With a host of new tools at their disposal, they can tackle problems with innovative approaches and often at minimal cost.

 

The life insurance industry as a whole has long struggled with the problem of trying to sell a product that forces people to consider their own mortality, an uncomfortable situation. However, current trends in wearables, data analytics and instant communications have given the industry a tremendous opportunity to focus on fostering wellness and quality of life. Consumers can think of their life insurer as a partner for living, rather than the last thing they want to think about.

 

The growing world of insurtech also allows smaller life insurance companies to punch above their weight. They can bypass clunky traditional systems and implement sleeker, more minimalistic software that takes advantage of new technologies in cloud computing, data analytics, AI and machine learning.  Smaller insurers can also look to insurtech firms to facilitate their adoption of the latest trends in distribution, customer service, pricing, claims and even underwriting, at a fraction of the cost of traditional software solutions.

 

You can learn more about insurtech, and meet the heavy hitters, at InsureTech Connect, September 23rd – 25th, 2019 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Register.

 

InsureTech Connect is the world’s largest insurtech event, offering unparalleled access to the largest and most comprehensive gathering of tech entrepreneurs, investors and insurance industry executives from across the globe. Founded by Jay Weintraub and Caribou Honig, ITC is expecting more than 7,000 attendees from 60+ countries this year. InsureTech Connect 2019, presented by Oliver Wyman, will be held September 23rd – 25th, 2019 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

 

 

Tech-Tock

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Republished from PaperClip Blog

Tech-Tock is a new column where we address the cyber world connection to Life Insurance and the channels. Several Thought Leaders will discuss the latest technology trends and why you should care about mobile/marketing, web/new business, document management/compliance, security/risk and more; basically, technology, its business effect, and its trends. At the end of the day, we want to intrigue you and give you a sense of urgency to integrate with change.

I think the way to start is to identify our players and their technology. Our players are the Millennium and Baby Boom Generations. The Boomers represent the institutions and the Millennials are the new middle management of these same institutions. As Millennials grew up in the digital explosion, the way they learned access to information behavior is so different that it affects the way they approach problem-solving. At age 30, Boomers would have to call a travel agent to book a flight, today Millennials can hold a portal in their hand and in less than 60 seconds do the same. At age 30, Boomers would have to drag their finger in circles listening to clicks to order a pizza, today Millennials holds up their portal and says, “order pizza”. Millennials have different experiences with transactions today and the process of selling and processing life insurance will evolve and integrate with their portal; point being it will be a marketplace app.

Technology thinking has already changed whereby Millennials are all about outsourcing. I’ve seen in my 40 years of technology a cycle of on-premise to outsourcing cycles changing every 10 years. The new generation has adopted outsourcing and it will never change again. The advent of Cloud computing and soon the new Quantum computing, third-party platforms will host all the applications, and internally all the institutions will host are their portal interfaces (mobile, tablet, desktop & IoT devices).

Recently attending the Nexus Insurance Show (Chicago, Nov 2018) the startup companies presenting powerful new applications understand the demand for hosted applications because the Millennials are the buyers. Artificial Intelligence leads the day with every one of the 40 exhibitors talking about their unique application and benefits of AI. One showed how eights pictures of a damaged car could produce a repair estimate in less than a minute. One showed smart home AI whereby water leaks could be detected and turned off saving millions in claims. One showed a Machine Learning process flow application which could display the real-time movement of the company’s workflow and measure their efficiencies. Many of the companies will be acquired and continue to expand the tool bag of larger established vendors which will be the winners. Winners because with so many startups building out a solution to solve a specific problem, integration has always been the challenge. In the past, the institutions supported standard organizations for supply chain integration but this remains labor intensive with ongoing expenses. As larger vendors acquire technology and accept the responsibility of tight integration, only then will they emerge. The last thing to do is ask a Millennial to key information in, over and over again.

Boomers, no matter the size or number of people in your institution, the message is keep your technology fresh, exciting and outsourced. It’s time to turn off that server in the closet and to start finding outsourced tools to help train, sell, process, deliver and store your business all from a portal. Millennials, you need to be patient. I have not seen much change in technology in the life insurance industry over the last 20 years, for example, independent life production comes in on paper 80% of the time even today. The good news is you’re now in charge and I see the change coming very fast. Congratulations! By, Mike Bridges – President of PaperClip Inc. 

There are great Insurtech articles from the TECH-TOK column you must read. Please visit Broker World Magazine.

Distribution Technology

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Distribution technology is a big part of InsurTech for Life Insurance, Annuities and Long Term Care Insurance. There are multiple distribution channels in the space (Independent, Financial Institutions, Direct Marketer, Direct to Consumer, and Captive/Career). The various channels sell similar products in their respective lines of business. The solutions that they use are similar and sometimes quite different. What sets them apart even further is the process from sales to new business and from policy delivery to commissions. For example: An independent agent will more likely fill out a paper annuity application on a fixed annuity and submit it to their Brokerage General Agency (BGA). A financial advisor on the other hand who works for a bank will submit the annuity application using the bank’s independent broker dealer’s clearing firm’s  annuity order entry platform (AOE) like Ebix’s AnnuityNet. The process on the back end is using DTCC for settling money for premium and netting commissions. Another example is when an independent agent writes a term life insurance application using a multi-carrier electronic application platform (eApp) like iPipeline’s iGO accessed on a BGAs website. Depending on the carrier and product selected the process may be very different such as a term ticket with tele-interview fulfillment; an eApp with accelerated underwriting; or a simplified issue with predictive underwriting and eSignature.

 

InsurTech Express is the place to get educated on distribution technology.  If you are looking to invest in distribution technology, you will find information on solutions and solution providers at InsurTech Express. There are key industry documents on the home page and resource links on the footer of the site. You will continue to see more information on distribution technology as InsurTech Express evolves. Many other resources of InsurTech for Life and Annuities is also available on InsurTech Express.

 

By Ken Leibow, ken@insurtechexpress.com