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Nothing Will Ever Be the Same in Insurance

Robert Regis Hyle | August 22, 2016

Doing things new and striving to be different are staples of American business. No one ever proclaims their new company will offer some of the “same old, same old” to its customers.

Saying you are going to do things differently than others is one thing; actually following through with such a boast can be quite another. How many of those businesses with new ideas actually reverted to old business customs? Quite a few, most likely, for the simple reason that execution is more difficult than explanation. As the saying goes, I see better than I hear.

Another reason is the consumer audience may not wish to change the way they do business. They are either quite satisfied with the way things are going (less likely) or just outright resistant to change, even if they complained constantly about the old way.

There is an entire class of people who reject the old ways, though. Their lifestyle is different than conventional society and they expect—and in many cases demand—that the people they do business with respect their needs if they want the customer’s business.

They are the engine behind the success of the new economy with services such as ride-sharing or even home-sharing. They have a different lifestyle, which sometimes means unconventional decisions.

Businesses have always tried to take advantage of a different type of customer, but that often implies a reliance by the customer on the company and even such a conventional philosophy as that has been turned upside-down.

The September cover story in ITA Pro magazine looks at two new insurance companies and their decisions to go about business in ways different than insurance has ever been sold or serviced before.

Slice Labs has put together a program that allows individuals to take advantage of the new economy by turning their personal automobile into an Uber or Lyft vehicle, and back again once the service has ended.

Figo Pet Insurance offers a somewhat more traditional insurance policy, pet insurance, but has an ownership that is driven to create a community of pet owners that is almost as important to them as a community of pet policyholders.

A lot of people were caught up in looking to the future of insurance with a wary eye on technology companies that made their bones in areas other than insurance. Companies such as Amazon, Google or Apple may one day invade the insurance industry, but for now they have taken a backseat to smaller, more agile companies that saw an opportunity and jumped on it.

Will there be more companies like Slice Labs and Figo Pet Insurance finding niches in the insurance industry? We’d be silly to believe otherwise. Investors are looking closely at a new breed of insurer and the challenge for all carriers might not come from new players in the insurance market, but from those who are willing to take a swing at something new.

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The Email Chat is a regular feature of the ITA Pro magazine and website. We send a series of questions to an insurance IT leader in search of thought-provoking responses on important issues facing the insurance industry.


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