Predictions on the future of the insurance industry and digital innovation by Karen Oakland

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Judging from the record-breaking crowd of more than 3,500 attending InsureTech Connect 2017, aka ITC, interest in digital innovation in insurance is at an all-time high, and not just from traditional players. Investors, tech companies like Intelledox, customer experience leaders, and even state insurance regulators mixed in sessions talking about the future of insurance.

As event sponsors, our team at Intelledox had the chance to meet with dozens of executives, all focused on identifying ways to use technology to improve their business. Here are just five things we learned from some amazing sessions, featuring executives from some of the largest insurance carriers in the world, as well as innovative new players.

 

  1. Customers don’t WANT “engagement.”

Every carrier wants stronger customer relationships. However, more than one speaker noted that most of the time customers just want their insurance company to “get out of the way,” as suggested by Jamie Hale, CEO and co-founder of Ladder Life.

“Sometimes forcing interaction when customers don’t want it just drives them away. What they want is for us to help make decisions in real time, instantly and digitally,” Hale said in a panel discussing the future of insurance. “They want us to make dynamic changes to their policy coverage over time. We have to be focused on what the consumer wants versus pushing products on them.”

This sentiment was echoed by Adam Erlebacher, co-founder, and CEO of Fabric, a disruptor in the life insurance market, who spoke on a panel called Reimagining the Customer Journey: From Expectations to Engagement. “I’m not sure customer engagement is important,” he said. “Attempts to engage can be annoying. It’s about the ‘moments of truth.”

 

  1. Reimagine the customer’s “moments of truth”

Geno Fernandez, chief underwriting officer of Zurich North America, explained that being present at those “moments of truth” is becoming a major focus for the carrier and how it thinks about using technology along the value chain.

Fernandez said Zurich measures customer satisfaction via Net Promoter Scores related to four interactions they know matter most to their customers – whether big or small:

  • When the company delivers a proposal
  • When the company delivers a service, such as a premium audit or policy review
  • When the customer (or carrier) needs to change or amend the policy
  • When the customer files a claim

“One of our top three goals is to make our technology a competitive advantage, and that’s about looking at these moments of truth for our clients,” Fernandez explained.

 

  1. Customer essentials: trust + empathy

Hey insurance companies: Customers don’t want to buy your product. And they aren’t sure that product will be there when they need it. That lack of trust is a barrier, said Kyle Nakatsuji, founder and CEO of Clearcover, who spoke on a panel focused on the future of the insurance company.

“I think the insurance company of the future is willing to reinvent itself with empathy,” Nakatsuji said. “Real empathy, not just customer-centricity-corporate stuff. The Insurance company of the future is the one that will have a pragmatic acceptance of their role in people’s lives built on a foundation of empathy.”

Naveen Agarwal, chief customer officer at Prudential Financial, stressed that good customer experience is based on two core components: it must be both functional and evoke an emotional response.

 

  1. Speed it up and reduce friction – or miss opportunities

With new technology, product development is happening now faster than ever before, according to Mariel Devesa, head of corporate development and innovation at Farmers Insurance. The carrier built a product to insure ridesharing in just three months – in the past it would have taken nine to 10 months.

“Speed to market is very critical. That’s where the digital insurer and technology come together,” added Guarav Garg, CEO of personal lines at AIG. “If you can take out the friction issues and costs, it reduces go-to-market time dramatically.” Empowering agents with digital tools – even for those working with high-touch clients such as wealth management – enables them to provide higher quality service, Garg stressed.

Underwriting is another area moving faster than ever. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from InsureTech, from Tammy Pascuzzi, strategy director at Principal Financial: “I am going to be bold: It would be great where we have ‘instant issue’ kinds of processes. We are on that path and the journey to offering a more omnichannel experience.”

 

  1. It’s “Gold Rush” time for insurance technology

Insurance companies used to have an advantage with proprietary tech systems, but those days are at an end, said Chris Longo, COO of Amtrust Financial Services. Insurers of all sizes now have access to technologies they didn’t 10 years ago. “It’s a gold rush,” Longo said. Several insurers, including Amtrust, said they created new innovation groups within their organizations to understand gaps and opportunities for improvement in digital technologies. Seems like a trend in carrier org structures.

 

Wrapping up InsureTech Connect: What’s next?

A common thread among attendees: forward-thinking insurers know their competition looks more like Amazon and Uber, not like traditional insurance. That’s why tech providers like Intelledox have emerged to help insurers rethink the customer experience across those moments of truth.

Despite the sad events just one night before in Las Vegas, it was exciting to feel the crowd energized by new ideas and strategies. If you attended ITC2017, I’d love to know your top takeaways. I can tell you we’re walking away with renewed enthusiasm and excitement for how Intelledox fits into this digital insurance ecosystem.

If you’d like to know more about how we help insurers, please click here or email me at Karen.oakland@intelledox.com.