digital insurance summit
Editor's Choice Europe Event Analysis Insurtech

Digital Insurance Summit Europe Day 1 Highlights

The world of insurance was present in Fulham at the Hurlingham Club in February as the two-day Digital Insurance Summit set out to tackle some of the biggest hurdles in the industry.  

The common denominator throughout the Digital Insurance Summit was understanding your customer, in turn allowing you to provide them with the best possible experience without compromising risk or cost. The event had over 150 attendees hear from industry experts exploring how to set up product development teams for success, how to completely uproot and revolutionise legacy tech, how to leverage new technologies and more.

A variety of panels and discussions took place throughout the day covering what was needed to build the best customer-centric experience, how to grow digital partnerships, and more. Here are a few of our highlights from the day.

The Digital Insurance Summit began with an opening keynote by David Clamp, founder and chair of the Camelot Network who welcomed everyone to the event. Having set the scene for what the following two days would have in store, Clamp was joined on stage by Steven Zuanella, group chief digital and innovation officer at Generali Group. On stage, he highlighted the variety of new digital capabilities and how an innovative culture can drive operational efficiencies.Digital Insurance Summit

Delivering a customer-centric experience 

Zuanella highlighted the importance of the customer in the insurance cycle: “Never has it been more important in my view to have the customer at the heart of everything you do and that’s not always an easy way of working in large organisations with lots of priorities – particularly on efficiency and investment. It’s about finding a balance between genuine customer centricity and everything else that drives change.”

The conversation between Clamp and Zuanella turned to customer experience vs cost efficiency. Despite a desire for a focus on the customer experience, Zuanella admitted “in the short term cost efficiency will always win [the funding].” He explained that customer experience investments can take a couple of years before a positive, worthwhile outcome can be seen. Due to cost pressures everyone is under, it is no surprise firms are looking towards short term cost efficiency first and foremost.

Although the idea of a digital world has spread like wildfire, Clamp aimed to strip it back to its true meaning, asking Zuanella what digital meant. The group chief digital and innovation officer responded by saying: “Digital is what your business strategy looks like today. It can be short-term automation, CRM, customer propositions or digital distribution channels – all these are digital.

“The best way to find out what is digital for your company is by asking your customers and employees. We do this every year and what we’ve seen is people want the business simplified, with the bureaucracy taken out. It’s a lot easier said than done.”

The duo then discussed the digital tools firms use, with Generali as an example. “Automation is a really big area of opportunity because you can access the sweet spots to improve customer experience and cost efficiency at the same time. For me, that’s a win-win,” concluded Zuanella.

A buzzing environment 

The optimistic nature of the conversations had at the Digital Insurance Summit Europe was reflected in the audience’s response throughout the event. Tables were constantly encouraged to discuss topics being presented, contributing their responses to the greater discussion with the panellists. Laughs were had by not only the audience but the panellists too as audience responses took jabs at the slow nature of incumbents and the uncertain future of budding insurtechs.

While there was an air of lightheartedness across the event, the responses the panellists gave to the questions were in-depth and insightful. What made conversations even more engaging was the diversity of opinions.

Evolve or innovate?

The first panel of the day, titled Differentiating your products: How can you create and launch new products that add value for tour customers and capture more market share, featured Richard Boyd, head of product – digital claims, Lloyds; Christopher Moore, head of ibott, Apollo; John Pyall, head of underwriting and product, Great Lakes Insurance SE and was moderated by David Clamp, founder and chair, The Camelot Network. 

Following an introduction, Clamp proposed the question “what is new product innovation?” Having heard Moore’s response about how differentiating costs can lead to innovation for customers, Pyall said: “I’m beginning to hate the word innovation. We’ve been saying that at conferences I’ve been to for the last six/seven years. What I want to see evolved policies – not just a massive internal project.

“Let’s use our culture to evolve properly.” Moore defended innovation, understanding evolution was a needed phase. However, he explained that innovation must be embedded into company culture as even the smallest tweaks could result in massive growth. “I still count that as innovation,” he concluded.

Barriers remain

Boyd was brought into the conversation and hit on a common theme in the insurance sector: “Legacy tech is holding us back.” He further added that 85 per cent of tech capacity grows on maintaining systems rather than changing them completely. “If you get the infrastructure and culture set up, then you can move to an evolution model and make change happen quickly. This is instead of having to do a massive innovation project.”

The conversation turned towards customer-centricity with Pyall noting how regulators influence organisations’ decisions more than consumers. Looking at UK Consumer Duty he said: “Wonderful idea in concept right? But we actually stopped worrying what the actual customers wanted out of consumer duty and looked at what regulators required.”

A culture of innovation was one of the most important ways products could be differentiated according to Boyd. Finding one that fits within your existing operations, rather than coming up with a crazy idea off to the side or putting innovation on a pedestal is the best way significantly deliver value to customers.”

Digital Insurance Summit

Collaboration vs competition 

Another notable panel from the event was Moving from competition to collaboration: How can you establish the right insurtech partnerships to bridge your CX gaps, drive efficiency gains and achieve agility?

Bessem Ayari, head of innovation strategy and scoutingERGO Group AG; Ed Gaze, CEO and co-founderInnovative Risk Labs; Elliot Gradwell, commercial directorAssurant Europe; Rosie Denée – head of Lloyd’s Lab AcceleratorLloyds all took part on the panel with Tony Tarquini – director of strategy5189 Limited, moderating.

Tarquini set the scene, establishing insurtech to be the number one destination for venture capital funding in the world. As a result, he posed the question to the panel: why is investing in insurtechs so important?

“We don’t have to do everything on our own,” said Ayari. “Ultimately we need to find a balance between the agility that insurtechs can provide and the reliability and trustworthiness of incumbents in the sector.”

“The innovative minds of insurtech really challenge the box mindset of traditional insurers,” said Denée. She further highlighted the importance of having the right attitude when looking for an insurtech partner. “You need to be thinking five years into the future, not just months. You need to future-proof your organisation and this can’t be done by someone who has a BAU attitude.”

Gaze then noted that many people in insurance don’t want to take risks due to the possibility of failure. He explained the culture of procrastination and consulting which takes place which prevents any meaningful change from taking place.

Digital Insurance Summit


  • Francis is a journalist and our lead LatAm correspondent, with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

Related posts

Research Finds Digital Acceleration Has Not Eliminated the Need for Bank Branches.

Polly Jean Harrison

West Midlands Leads UK Fintech Innovation With Appointment to the Fintech National Network

Tyler Pathe

Scammers gonna scam: Covid-19 and cybercrime

Manisha Patel