Digital identity

Why Verifying Digital Identities Is Crucial for Effective Insurtech

The growth of digital and on-demand services in the insurance space has changed and consumers continue to expect more from providers. New ways of driving revenue should now always seek to include a secure and frictionless onboarding process.

With talks on the horizon of a secure digital identity framework, there has never been as much interest in digital identity verification and its need, within the finance industry particularly, to combat the rise in fraud. This need is more clearly seen in the insurance industry, where the rise of digitalisation has seen an increased uptake in online offerings.

The insurance industry is highly competitive and, with several products and solutions available to consumers, companies need to differentiate themselves from their competitors in order to drive revenue.

Chris Luttrell, CEO, IDology
Chris Luttrell, CEO, IDology

One way to do this is having a secure and frictionless onboarding process – something that Chris Luttrell, CEO of IDology, a leading provider of digital identity verification and fraud prevention solutions, believes is critical: “It’s all about balance, applying the right amount of friction while keeping out fraud.”

She continues: “The way these companies can stay competitive is making sure they have a very easy onboarding experience for their policy holders. So many people went online during the pandemic and that’s not going to change. Based on our research, we know that 83 million consumers signed up for online services during the pandemic, which is probably well over the 100 million range at this point, with 94 per cent planning to continue using these accounts in some form.”

The idea of minimal friction is particularly important when considering mobile devices, as in order for companies to be successful in the ‘new normal’ they need to take advantage of the popularity of mobile services, such as apps and other digital offerings.

“Sixty-four per cent of Americans reported using a mobile device when creating a new account,” said Luttrell, “so companies need to make sure that they have a streamlined process so that consumers can sign up on their mobile device with little friction.”

However, despite the need for smooth processes, the policy holder still needs to feel secure when signing up and know that their data is in safe hands.

“Communicating this to the consumer in a very clear and transparent way about how you’re going to use their data, as well as having a secure, clear sign-up process is crucial for staying competitive,” says Luttrell. “Therefore, it’s really important to have a robust digital identity verification solution, with multiple smart layers of information from a broad set of data sources to make sure that the customer is who they claim to be.”

The challenge of fraud

When it comes to improving customer onboarding, Luttrell believes that fraud is a challenge that has been around since the beginning of time. While many solutions are aiming to combat the issue, it’s clear that fraudsters aren’t going away any time soon as they continue to evolve alongside the rest of the insurance industry.

Luttrell said: “The challenges insurtech companies are going to face is balancing friction and fraud. It’s a very delicate balance as fraud attacks will continue. So, we have to stop the attackers from getting into the system, but also make it easy for legitimate consumers to get into their policies.”

This presents a challenge as they’re two conflicting issues that can create conflict between onboarding teams and fraud and compliance teams within a insurer as they try to find the best of both worlds.

“Internally, these teams need to be talking to one another and making sure that they’re finding the right balance to the ever-growing problem that is fraud. According to our recent fraud report, 75 per cent of companies in the insurance industry saw an increase in fraud attempts compared to the prior year. That’s a greater increase than any other industry we surveyed, and when we look at where that’s occurring a lot of it is happening through mobile devices.”

She continued: “Fraud is a huge problem, and fraud on mobile devices is an even bigger issue, especially when you consider that a lot of people are now using mobile devices for their finances that maybe never have before. Mobile devices are being targeted and we need to make sure we’re putting the right controls and tools in place to stop those attacks”

Types of fraud

There are a few areas of fraud that have seen an increase over the last few years, affecting both the insurance industry as well as the wider financial sector. The first, according to Luttrell, is account takeover, which has skyrocketed over the past two years particularly with consumers looking to do their finances online.

However, the other area that is more concerning to Luttrell is the fraudulent use of artificial intelligence and machine learning tools. She said: “We know that fraudsters use artificial intelligence and machine learning, and the scary thing is that they don’t have rules that they have to follow. While an insurtech company must follow certain compliance regulations as to how they use and store data, fraudsters don’t have to do that – it’s no holds barred. They can do whatever they want.

“Fraudsters are also collaborating. We know that they’re helping one another, giving each other ideas and tips on how to get around certain companies’ onboarding or account opening policies. They’re collaborating, but the industry isn’t. As an industry, we need to collaborate better to understand the threats that we’re facing as an industry.”

Secure sign-ups

Fraud prevention leads directly to the quality of onboarding processes, as consumers need to know from the start that they are secure when they are signing up for new services.

“We’ve seen in some of our studies that the consumer confidence in businesses and their ability to protect personal data and protect consumer account information has declined across the board. Eighty-eight per cent of consumers say they’ll discontinue service if they don’t understand how their data is managed. The biggest drop in consumer confidence was actually in the insurance industry,” Luttrell added.

“People are going to abandon signing up for online accounts if they think it’s too difficult, too time-consuming or doesn’t seem trustworthy. Ninety-three million Americans abandoned signing up for an online account last year because of those things, and 72 per cent of those were using mobile. So, it all goes back to having that secure process, which will help insurance companies evolve and stay competitive.”

A strong IDV

Hope is not lost, however, as insurers looking to onboard more customers faster with minimal friction can be helped by a strong identity verification programme.

“You want a programme that’s going to give you the ability to verify consumers regardless of their credit rating or their age,” said Luttrell. “You want to be able to properly identify and verify consumers in all demographics. Having a high locate and match rate for all consumers, having a system that can give you verification without friction, and having flexibility with what you put in place for your system are criteria for a strong identity verification programme.”

However, Luttrell is keen to stress that there is no one-size-fits-all approach for this. “What may work for one company may be different for another, and that’s all going to depend on their risk appetite and the profiles they’re trying to verify. Having control over the rules and decisions you want to put in place without having to get IT or technical resources involved is particularly important,” she added.

This is something IDology is familiar with, with the ExpectID platform using an orchestrated, multi-layered process to validate an identity in real-time, going beyond basic data matching by providing predictive, intelligent identity information and analytics. With this data, businesses can make quicker, smarter and more transparent decisions on what to do next: approve, deny or escalate the validation result.

A key differentiator for growth Ultimately, having a strong identity verification programme helps insurance companies meet the consumer demands for a secure but personalised digital experience. IDology’s annual fraud report found that 83 per cent of the insurers that they surveyed see identity verification as a strategic differentiator, meaning they know that if they have a strong system in place they can rise above their competitors.

On this, Luttrell concluded: “Consumers tell us having that really strong identity verification makes them feel more trusting of the company they’re signing up for. Americans show a preference for service providers with strong identity verification methods, with 82 per cent of consumers believing it’s important they trust a company to effectively verify their identity during a new account opening experience.

“And this all points back to transparency with consumers. When they know you’ve got that really strong process in place and you’re going to take care of them and their data in a very secure and appropriate manner, they’re going to have more confidence in you and be more willing to sign up for your services.”


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