March at The Fintech Times is all about insurtech and its many facets. With the industry making leaps and bounds over the past few years, insurtechs are providing the much-needed disruption of the traditionally viewed, and sometimes outdated insurance industry. From innovations in technology and applications to key industries like property, auto and energy, this month we’ll be taking a look at some of the key topics in the sector and how insurance really is the one to watch.
With this in mind, we have spoken to some of the leading players in the industry to uncover how Insurtech is evolving into an experience-based industry, and learn more about the rise of tailored insurance solutions.
Mike Vostrizansky, Principal at FTV Capital, a growth equity investment firm, said:
“We see an exciting opportunity to create a more delightful and seamless customer experience and increase pull-through for insurance companies. Traditional insurers have struggled to efficiently and profitably write more specialised lines of coverage despite some of the technological advancements and disruption that have taken place in the industry over the past several years, and there is still a continued reliance on legacy policy administration and claims management software solutions. A shift in insurance distribution toward direct digital acquisition, improvements in underwriting derived from RPA and AI/ML, and the emergence of new product verticals (cyber, wearables, pet, etc.) are all tailwinds driving an accelerated product and technology replacement cycle within both the personal and commercial insurance sectors. For example, Embroker is a digitally-native specialty insurance company serving SMBs, offering an Amazon-like buying process backed by automated underwriting: helping businesses get the right coverage at a lower cost.
“At FTV, we’ve had a long history of investing in businesses across the insurance value chain with investments such as Embroker, Bought By Many/ManyPets and Presidio, amongst others. In particular, right now we see promise for vertical-specific and horizontal product and software solutions that will not only better serve insurance carriers and agents, but also their end-consumers. Data companies are improving the underwriting and claims processes, enabling them to more effectively price risk. Insurance markets have always slowly evolved, but with the emergence of new products and solutions, insurtech will continue to accelerate shifts in distribution, underwriting, claims management and more to reshape the insurance of the future.”
Shaking up the archaic industry
Marty Schafer, chief distribution officer, Ethos, said that “the pandemic played a significant role in propelling protective life-planning to the forefront of Americans’ minds.”
He continued: “In the life insurance sector, growth in demand expedited the need for insurtech firms to shake up the archaic industry, using digitisation and machine learning to offer simple, tailored solutions for consumers. What was previously a tedious and confusing process is now a personalised, customer-first experience that meets the needs of modern consumers (for some vendors, at least).”
When it comes to the differences between B2B and B2C, he added: “Serving both a direct-to-consumer and business audience can be difficult for one company – but not if they tailor their approach to each group’s experience. In the B2B space, insurtechs should focus on providing all the resources agents who provide customers with policies need to be successful, all in one place. If people are selling on your behalf, it’s essential to make their jobs as easy as possible – which is why we created our new Agent Portal with UX in mind. The portal provides agents and brokers with a one-stop shop for feedback and resources. This includes a transparent log of quotes between Ethos and agents, tracking of the agent’s total earnings, and a resource centre to support agent success.
“Separately, to serve the B2C audience, insurtechs will succeed when they gather as much data as possible about their customers to tailor policies and experiences to reflect their individual needs. It is critical to stay agile and provide exceptional customer service, offering swift response and resolution times when addressing customer feedback while also proactively contacting customers throughout the year, as opposed to just at policy renewal times. This serves as a critical opportunity to nurture customer relationships and build loyalty while providing value.”
Alfredo Rubina, VP of financial services at SoftServe believes that insurtechs need to offer a vast variety of omnichannel experiences to get new customers.
He said: “Insurtechs are increasingly offering digital add-on services based on industry platforms and ecosystems, with the aim of facilitating insurers’ access to turnkey processes and products and improving the customer experience through digital offerings.
“In order to gain additional market share, Insurtechs would need to offer outstanding omnichannel customer experiences that are personalised, truly customer-centric, confirming, transparent, self-explanatory and interactive.
“They need to consistently deliver positive end-to-end customer experiences: the right message to the right person at the right time through the right channel. Overall, an evolutionary development of Insuretech is emerging, with a focus on networking, online processes and digital sales.
“In addition, great progress is being made using advanced technologies such as AI and Big Data, leveraging existing or new data sources to gain insights and support decision-making. This enables insurers to gain new insights about their customers and their behaviour to contribute more directly to solving their customers’ problems.”
Ernst Renner, Partner and Head of US insurance at Capco, said:
“In life, retirement, and annuities there is active movement to switch positioning of thinking for what is a policyholders life journey – to help them plan their financial goals and maintain engagement in their financial wellness throughout their relationship with the carrier. In terms of tailored products typically when folks buy products, they are buying it for a certain reason. Once the policy is purchased the policyholder doesn’t really interact with the carrier again until they go to renew, so what is happening now is a concentrated push to know the policyholder at a more intimate level.
“For business to consumer, it’s really understanding financial wellbeing and the journey that most policyholders/participants take
“A good example would be someone buying their first life/term life insurance policy at 30 because an individual bought a house and needed the term life policy to cover them if something happened to pay the bills. The policyholder would keep this policy and then the carrier would begin to learn more about the individual / understand who they are and begin having conversations with the policyholder on what the future holds and make assumptions based on life events. For carriers to be successful it’s important for them to follow the policy holder’s life journey so they can meet them at each junction and provide the right product that is best suited to the policy owner’s needs.
“For business to business, tailored insurance solutions are extended to the advisors so that the same type of personalisation can be offered by advisors so they can provide the right products.
“For carriers that go through an advisory or distribution channel carriers are really pushing to arm distribution/producers with the right data and tools they need to guide clients through the policy holder’s journey.”
Stewart Griffiths, CEO and co-founder of Albany Group believes customer expectations have evolved.
“Digitalisation has reshaped almost every aspect of our lives and the insurance industry is no exception,” he said. “Customers now expect a convenient and seamless experience when interacting with insurers. Expectations were already changing over the past few years with the growth of digitalisation, something that has been accelerated due to the pandemic.
“In today’s digital-first world, customer experience and technology are fundamentally linked. Customer expectations are rapidly evolving in the digital age and through technology, the insurance industry can deliver the service the customers of today crave, namely one that is swift, convenient and frictionless. Across the industry, there is now a greater focus on optimising the customer experience and using technology to facilitate this.
“To meet these changing needs, insurers have turned to data and customer insights to provide personalised policies and offers. We have also seen increased adoption of ecosystem models, which provide customers with an integrated user experience that includes all the products and services customers want within a single portal. Crucially, technology also helps speed up the claims process by giving suppliers oversight and a better understanding of how to best deal with a customer during a time of distress, thus improving their experience.
“Over the past decade, the market has become saturated with more insurance products and variety, making it harder to attract and retain customers. With the growth of digital transformation, we have also seen the emergence of new disruptive players leveraging technology and changing customer expectations which have increased competition in the market.
“For providers, the ability to provide customers with the greatest value has now become the main competitive advantage. To enhance customer satisfaction in the current landscape, delivering the tailored speedy service they crave via technology is key to attracting and retaining customers.”