Technology Driving Disruption in Insurance
Doug French | December 08, 2015
(Editor’s note: During the summer of 2015, EY interviewed executives at approximately 20 leading US insurance manufacturers, distributors and reinsurers as part of an ongoing effort to understand how the life insurance and annuity industry can surmount current challenges and move forward.
The objective was to understand the views and concerns in the eyes of industry executives and stakeholders and to outline the industry opportunities and challenges from the perspectives of customers, distributors and manufacturers. The interviews focused on the global economy, innovation, distribution, talent issues and consumer protection. This is the second article in a five part series, where we will walk through our key findings. You can read the first article here.)
Innovation in the era of permanent disruption.
As we continue to do business in an era marked by a continuous disruption and new competitive threats, the insurance industry, which has never been considered leading edge or particularly nimble, must work to increase the pace and scope of innovation. “Innovate or die,” was the succinct description of one survey participant.
The impact of shifts in product focus and different customers on distribution cannot be overlooked. That’s why some carriers are providing advisors with new, proprietary tools as well as systems for underwriting, digital applications and for managing customer relationships. Carriers are also evaluating their distribution models as a whole, including their compensation models.
It’s clear that technology will be the driver of innovation. Carriers can leverage considerable advancements in digital technology to make step-gains in their ability to engage customers consistently, across more channels, with richer experiences. But it is important to recognize that innovation is the job of every function of the enterprise, not just product development. One respondent put it this way:
“As an industry, we confuse innovation with product development. If we don’t learn the difference—and don’t learn how to become far more innovative much more quickly—we run the risk of being disintermediated by those that can run faster.”
True, some executives believe their organizations have already done much in the way of innovation, and more than a few consider the focus on innovation to be something of a fad. But overall, survey respondents emphasized their readiness to embrace the new market realities and resulting innovation imperative. To an unprecedented extent, the industry accepts that it must rethink everything about the way it operates or face dire competitive—even existential—consequences.
In terms of recent progress, early adopters of technology have been making significant investments in research and development. For instance, some insurers now offer discounts to policyholders willing to utilize sensors that track their movements and well-being. The success of such high-profile programs have made it clear that telematics in the insurance industry is no longer a futuristic scenario, but rather a here-and-now opportunity. Thus, the fast followers are doing just that, and hastily re-allocating resources toward R&D.
New competitive threats are driving insurers forward on the innovation front. Any company, from any sector that possesses large amounts of data about people and their relationships, could become a player in the financial services arena. As such, the industry faces a diverse and daunting range of potential competitors from banks and credit card companies, to makers of wearable technology and personal devices, to search engines and big online retailers.
That is why forward-looking insurers are considering partnerships with such companies, as well as entirely new business models and dramatically re-engineered customer relationships. It is important to note that respondents did not unanimously accept that view. Some pointed out that data aggregators did not necessarily “have the expertise to tie data to mortality and morbidity.”
Rising consumer expectations are another driver. Today’s buyers look to interact with companies through new devices (such as smart phones and tablets) and new channels (like video chatting and text). One respondent commented on customer expectation for “a seamless high-tech experience.” Self-service tools that are optimized for mobile devices are being developed at many carriers with some executives predicting the IT function will become one of the largest and most important functions at insurance companies.
It’s no surprise that improving the customer experience is high on the strategic agenda, according to survey results. Specifically, several respondents spoke of working to improve the experience through which consumers access advice. The good news is that providing guidance through new channels (such as video chatting) would be less expensive than a traditional over-the-table and in-person sale.
So where should innovation come from and what form should it take? Survey respondents cited a few main areas:
Sales and service: The focus will be on driving customer engagement with well-integrated, personalized and meaningful digital experiences and a streamlined application process. Here again, insurers are focused on empowering agents with better tools, including mobile, tablet and video platforms to connect with consumers as they build out more robust channels for research and self-service.
Product and market: The industry must develop offerings that reflect the real-world needs for consumers, from affordable annuities for the middle market to more sophisticated health policies that leverage the Internet of Things. As providers of historically “low-engagement” products, insurers are challenged to build and maintain strong and flexible client relationships. As one respondent stated, the industry “must learn to engage with consumers on the basis they determine and figure out how to lock-in and re-engage with customers” at different points of their lives. Failing to do so does a “disservice” to both customers and shareholders.
Operations: The industry is finally updating or retiring old legacy systems (especially those for policy administration) that can be 20- to 30-years-old. It’s the end of the capital cycle for big systems that were put in place in the 1980s or 1990s. Accelerated or automated underwriting, the use of electronic forms, and straight-through processing are new ways insurers are seeking to modernize and enhance operations. For underwriting, the goal is to make underwriting decisions in seconds, not hours or days. Even as these cycles shorten, new data sources—including Big Data—will be brought to bear to enhance the accuracy of decisions. Data aggregators are playing a role at some carriers already. Lastly, the development of straight-through processing, especially in the transfer business, is seen as a potentially large source of cost savings as it would help simplify the process of IRA rollovers and 1035 exchanges.
Technology: Better mobile apps, more advanced analytical capabilities and better data integration are pointing the way forward. Advanced carriers are using data mining and predictive analytics to help determine when policies will lapse and how products are being used. Others are partnering with makers of wearable technology to track consumers’ health behavior, a potentially revolutionary development for insurers. One respondent pointed out that “EKG data from smartphones is as good as a medical office EKG.”
Many respondents reported significant progress on several of these fronts, however the industry must also recognize that customer expectations move in only one direction—upward. For example, high net-worth consumers want their data quickly and in a usable form; they want to view information on their annuities just as they see data on their stock portfolio.
For insurers, this means innovation and customer experience enhancements are a continuously moving target. Now that early adopters have demonstrated success with a few high-profile programs, more insurers identify themselves as fast followers than in prior years. Investments in innovative capabilities are likely to be significant, but insurers can build substantive business cases based on badly needed performance improvements. Improved understanding and better harvesting of lifetime customer value is one way to achieve such ROI.
It is likely that cross-functional teams will be established with the sole purpose of driving innovation. Cultures that accept experimentation and failure as necessary components of innovation will be more likely to remain relevant and, ultimately, succeed in the next innovation-driven era of life insurance. As one respondent described the way to drive innovation, “We must fail fast and fail forward.”
What respondents say:
- “In today’s world, everything has to be mobile first. Not desktop, not email, but mobile first.”
- “You just have to suck it up and pay for [innovation] as an additional cost.”
- You have to make it so that [innovation] is a team of people’s primary responsibility, rather than just a good afterthought to their other responsibilities.”
- “If someone finds a real simple, painless, almost fun way to buy life insurance that would change the world of the insurance industry.”
- “Those that can use and make the most sense of data will have a competitive advantage going forward.”
- “Everyone’s saying ‘customer-centric,’ but it’s one thing to say it and another thing to do it.”
- “We put in accelerated underwriting tools you couldn’t have done 10 years ago because the processing speed and algorithms hadn’t been built.”
- “Automated underwriting offers a better process, lower cost and increased traction but we need to be sure that our clients are comfortable with the risk.”
- “Predictive analytics will be an effective tool in the middle market because of the number of risk classes and low concentration of risk.”
- “I don’t know that technology is the limiting factor or all alone the enabling factor … I think the missing ingredient is getting people to view life and disability insurance as critical as auto and home insurance.”
- “[Technology] is fundamentally upending, and allowing new competitors to come into and interrupt traditional business models… [None of us] are safe.”
The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ernst & Young LLP, the global EY organization or the Insurance Technology Association. Doug French is the managing principal of the Insurance and Actuarial Advisory Services practice within Ernst & Young LLP in New York. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Your Insurtech Investment: Making the Most of the Software You Already Have
- Electronic Chat with Sanjeev Kumar Chaudhry, Founder and CEO, Gigaforce
- Electronic Chat with Sylvester Mathis, Chief Insurance Officer, Insurity
- Inside the ITA: Meet the Board
- Digital Drip: New Lease on Life
- Transformation Corner: Core System Transformation
- Big Fix: Closing the Data Divide
- Tech, Processes, and a Plan
- Core Systems: Out with the Old?
- 5 Things to Consider When Modernizing a Surety System
- Four Benefits of Integrating Mobile Crash Detection and Accident Management
- Everybody Loves Gelato
- Electronic Chat with Jennifer Smith, VP of L&A Product Strategy, Sapiens North America
- Now Accepting Nominations for "Pick of the Litter" Issue
- “New Normal” Requires an Insurance Analytics Evolution
- Accuracy: Are Data Providers Pulling the Wool Over Your Eyes?
- Agents Send More Business to Insurers with Better Tech, Celent Finds
- Electronic Chat with B2Z Insurance
- Still Standing, Still Learning, and Still at Home
- ITA Pro Magazine, May/June 2021
- Electronic Chat with Chris Ewing, Founder and CEO, One Inc
- Electronic Chat with Sharmila Ray, Head of Carrier Strategy, Solutions and Go-To-Market, Vertafore
- Electronic Chat with Alex Devoto, Founder, LVLFi
- Prince Charles, Lloyd's Launch Sustainability Insurance Task Force
- UFCIC Becomes First U.S. Insurer to Accept Cryptocurrency for Premium Payments
- Electronic Chat with Ty Harris, Co-Founder, Openly Insurance
- The Insurance Industry’s Reliance on Friction: A Good Strategy?
- Loss Control, Premium Audit Systems Critical to Customer Experience, Celent Finds
- What's AI-Right and AI-Wrong?
- The Drive for Digital
- Electronic Chat with Candice Smith, Founder and CEO, Caregiven
- Electronic Chat with Nestor Hugo Solari, Founder/CEO, Sigo
- The Giant Hole in Actuarial Models
- Electronic Chat with Trent Cooksley, COO and Co-Founder, Cowbell Cyber
- The ITA Pro March/April 2021 issue is here!
- Purchasing and Innovation: Friends or Enemies?
- COVID Drives More Reliance on Risk Management Systems, New Study Finds
- Electronic Chat with Robert Clark, CEO, Cloverleaf Analytics
- Solving Customer Communications Challenges with Hybrid Mail
- Six Trends Shaping Digital Insurance Tech Strategies in 2021
- Billing a Key Component of Customer Service, Celent Finds
- Why Data Science Fails
- Electronic Chat with Andrew Jernigan, CEO, and Allen Koski, President and Chief Innovation Officer, Insured Nomads
- Electronic Chat with Allison Martin, CEO and Founder, UDoTest
- Are Carriers Ready for the Coming Crash?
- Electronic Chat with Christopher Moore, Director for North American Sales Engineering and Solutions, Trifacta
- Next Insurance Partners with Amazon Business Prime to Provide Small Businesses with Affordable Digital Insurance Options
- An AI Walks Into an Electronics Store...
- InsurTech NY Announces Global Early-Stage Competition Winners
- World’s Worst County/Western Insurtech Song
- Electronic Chat with Anne-Laure Klein, COO, Akur8
- COVID-19 One Year Later: The Digital Transformation of Insurance
- Electronic Chat with Michael Kassing, CEO/CVO, insured.io
- BrokerTech Ventures Announces 2021 Cohort Class for Accelerator
- An Entirely Preventable Disaster
- Flipping the Fraud Triangle
- The January/February ITA Pro Magazine is here!
- Credit Risk, ESG, Cybersecurity Top Risk Concerns for Financial Institutions, Deloitte Finds
- Electronic Chat with Ellen Moser, Senior Client Executive, Origami Risk LLC
- The Answer to “So What?”
- Leaders Rise from a Year Like No Other!
- Electronic Chat with Jonathan Roomer, Co-Founder, YuLife
- Getting Creative to Hit COVID Curveballs Out of the Park
- Electronic Chat with Eugenio Gonzalez, Plug and Play
- New Report Projects Global Insurtech to Grow by $21 Billion During 2020-2024
- The 2020 Virtual Event Wasteland
- Insurtechs, Investors Optimistic About Post-COVID Future, New DIA/McKinsey Study Finds
- Finding Grandmas
- No Code / Low Code: The New “Shortest Route” In Insurance Delivery
- Are You Addicted to Copy-and-Paste?
- Electronic Chat with Nino Tarantino, CEO- Americas, Insurance and Mobility Solutions (IMS)
- Driving Life Insurance:Tech Alone Won’t Solve Business Problems
- Electronic Chat with Robin Roberson, Managing Director, North America, Claim Central Consolidated
- How Do You Make It Happen?
- Electronic Chat with Jason Liu, CEO, Zywave
- New Partnership Models Take Program Business to the Next Level
- New Study Finds Less than Half of Consumers Trust Insurers to Respond to Their Needs
- Electronic Chat with Andrew Mauritzen, CFO and Head of Insurance Industry, Exactuals
- You Want Us To Do WHAT For Free?
- Electronic Chat with Evgeny Aleksandrov, Co-founder and CEO, Pilotbird
- Electronic Chat with Chris Cheatham, CEO, RiskGenius
- New MIT Sloan Study Finds Few Companies Gain Big Benefits from AI
- The September/October ITA Pro magazine is here!
- “Being Right” is Just the Start of the Battle
- Electronic Chat with Amit Ranjan, Executive VP and CAO, Xceedance
- Planning for Your Business and Tech Future: Strategies, Plans and Budgets for Rapid Transformation
- Electronic Chat with Jimmy Padia, Founder and CEO, Floatbot
- Gelato with Dots and Sprinkles
- COVID-19 and the Insurtech “Junk Drawer”
- Even “Change” is Different Now. Your Strategic Planning Needs to Be Too.
- The Road Ahead for P&C Insurers: How to Understand Customers Better and Navigate the Post-COVID Insurance Market
- Electronic Chat with Jake Tamarkin, Co-founder and CEO, Everyday Life
- Strategic Planning in the “New Normal” Digital Era of Insurance – Your Next Move
- Insurer Tech Investment Priorities See Major Shift in a Post-COVID World
- Plug and Play Selects 25 Insurtech Startups for Winter Batches
- Digital Transformation – A Top Strategic Priority and New Reality
- Four Steps to Successful Migration of Insurance CCM Applications
- COVID-19 Accelerates Insurance Digitalization to Meet Customer Demand: World InsurTech Report 2020
- Electronic Chat with Greg Williams, Co-Founder, President & CEO, Acrisure
- Electronic Chat with Matt Perlman, Partner, IA Capital Group
- Insurer Digitalization: Are you a Competitor or a Laggard?
- Leaders are Leading and Creating the Future of Insurance Distribution
- 3 Things You Need to Know About No-Code
- Electronic Chat with Adam Kiefer, CEO, Talage
- Underwriting in 3D: Using Data to Adapt and Improve Life Insurance Sales
- Getting Past the "Gelato Syndrome"
- Insurers Know CX/UX is Important, but Don't Agree on Execution, Study Finds
- Electronic Chat with Steve Lekas, Branch Insurance
- How AI Can Attract Millennial Talent to the Insurance Industry
- Preventing Data Breaches
- A New Boom for Life Insurance: Shifting Away from the 250-Year-Old Policy Transaction
- Electronic Chat with Ty Harris, Founder and CEO, Openly
- A Digital Wildfire Creates a Burning Platform for Digital Insurance Business Transformation
- Digitalization, COVID-19 Spurring More IT Investment in Cybersecurity
- Electronic Chat with Michael DeGusta, CEO, ClarionDoor
- U.S. Consumers Significantly Underestimate Flood Risk, New Survey Finds
- The Future of Insurance: Opportunities in Ecosystems
- Electronic Chat with Todd Greenbaum, CEO, Input 1
- Majesco to be Acquired by Thoma Bravo
- The Evolving Role of Managing General Agencies
- Electronic Chat with Char Hu
- Electronic Chat with Allan L. Egbert, Jr.
- Electronic Chat with Christopher Tramontano and Zbigniew Gawienczuk
- Data Science is Gelato
- Insurance Innovation: Alive and Kicking
- Independent Agents Divided on Digital Experience, New Survey Finds
- Electronic Chat with Michael Jones
- Electronic Chat with Paul VanderMarck
- As Auto Insurance Premiums Shrink, Insurers Need Mobility Ecosystem, New Study Finds
- Property & Casualty Insurers Raise Digital Games as COVID-19 Elevates Customer Expectations, J.D. Power Finds
- Electronic Chat with Bobbie Shrivastav
- Meet the Board: Marissa Buckley
- Big Data and Insurtech: A Carrier Perspective
- Traditional Insurers Need Open Ecosystems, Partnerships to Remain Competitive, CapGemini Report Finds
- Electronic Chat with John C. Siegman
- 4 Ways AI is Empowering Insurers During COVID-19
- 6 Big Changes to Insurance from the COVID-19 Crisis
- Electronic Chat with Christopher Ewing
- Independent Agency Staff Morale High During COVID-19, New Survey Finds
- Electronic Chat with Brad Epker
- Tapping AI to Improve Policyholder Experience
- Electronic Chat with Manisha Bhargava
- ITA Pro Magazine, March/April 2020
- COVID-19 a Game Changer for Workers’ Comp
- Electronic Chat with Steve Comer
- COVID-19 Pandemic Forces Cancellation of ITA LIVE 2020
- Leveraging Digital Resources in the Time of COVID-19
- Electronic Chat with Robert Hartwig on COVID-19 and Insurance
- Celent Study: Most Small Businesses Still Unclear on Importance of Cyber Insurance
- The January/February 2020 ITA Pro is here!
- Deloitte: New C-Suite Roles Mean More Opportunities for Women
- Electronic Chat with Pankaj Parashar
- Electronic Chat with Tara Kelly
- Electronic Chat with Chuck Wilson
- ITA, InsNerds Collaborate to Enhance ITA LIVE 2020 Content and Coverage
- How SMBs Can Compete in Digital Ecosystems in the 2020s
- 4 Ways Insurance Can Prepare for New Data Privacy Laws
- Brewer Lane Ventures Launches and Hires Insurtech Vet Martha Notaras as Managing Partner
- 2020 GIA Cohort Launches on January 14
- The November/December 2019 ITA Pro is here!
- Electronic Chat with Joshua Snead
- Electronic Chat with Wendy Aarons-Corman
- Simplifying the Move to a Third-party Print Provider
- Take a Business-Driven Approach to Continuous Improvement for Core Systems and Processes
- Electronic Chat with Ron Glozman
- Guidewire’s Data Guru Mike Byam on How Insurers are Using Internal and Third-Party Data
- Electronic Chat with Russ Bostick
- Electronic Chat with Rock Schindler
- Electronic Chat with John Siegman
- Electronic Chat with Martin Burlingame
- Insurtech Landscape 2019: Top 5 Takeaways
- Grinnell Mutual Tackles Massive Transformation -- in Stride
- A Candid Conversation with Paul Mang
- SageSure Insurance Managers Improved Competitiveness by Consolidating Payments to a Single Digital Platform
- Digital Does Matter in Insurance-- And Insurers are Missing the Mark
- The 22nd-Century Insurer: Taking a Cloud-First IT Approach
- The September/October 2019 issue of ITA PRO magazine is now available in digital format here:
- ITA Pro Magazine May/June 2019
- Spotlight on the 2019 IASA Conference
- ValueMomentum Selects Erie as Site of Regional Development Center
- Capgemini and Majesco Become Alliance Partners
- Electronic Chat with Dr. Dan Shoham
- Electronic Chat with Todd Greenbaum
- Martha Notaras: The “Outsider” with an Amazing Inside View
- Electronic Chat with Larissa Tosch
- Martha Notaras Will Join ITA LIVE 2019 as a Keynote Speaker
- Five Things to Consider When Evaluating Your Cyber Risk
- ITA Pro Magazine, January/February 2019
- Synergy Between Insurers' IT and Analytics Teams Key to Operationalizing Insights, Says Novarica
- Major Ransomware Attack Could Hit U.S. with $89B In Economic Damages
- ITA Announces 1st of Three Keynote Speakers at ITA LIVE 2019
- Electronic Chat with Jeroen Morrenhof
- Legacy Systems Are Dead. Really? Don't Count On It.
- Now Accepting Nominations for the 2019 ITA Bridge Awards
- It's time to register for ITA LIVE!
- Registration is Now Open for ITA LIVE 2019!
- What to Expect from a Digital Experience Platform Implementation
- ITA Pro Magazine September Edition is Now Available
- It's National IT Professionals Day
- Save the Date for ITA-LIVE 2019
- OneShield Software and UrbanStat Work Together to Improve Real-Time Analytics and Risk Decision-Making
- ITA LIVE 2019 - SAVE THE DATE!
- Insurance Technology Association Announces New Editor-in-Chief
- August 2018 Edition ITA Pro Magazine is Now Available
- Enterprise Architecture in an Agile World
- Top 10 Tips for Securing Your Mobile Devices and Sensitive Client Data
- Industry Insight: 4 Global Insurance Trends in Digital, Data, Content Services and Security
- Diving Deeper into Prioritizing Your Strategic Digital investments
- Why Content Rules
- How Mass Personalization Will Open the Small Business Benefits Market
- At Year End 2017, Will Your Organization Be Protected from Cyber Risks?
- Do Insurance Bots Dream of Mitigating Risk?
- Conditioned to Respond
- Managing & Mobilizing Insurance Data in a Connected World
- Race to the Finish Line
- New Tools, New Opportunities in Claims
- ITA LIVE: Reaching Insurance Industry Crossroads
- Advice to Insurance IT Leaders: Keep Your Eye on the Ball
- New Date, Venue for ITA LIVE 2017
- Guidewire Makes Major Push to Small and Midtier Market by Acquiring ISCS
- Insurance Disruption is Happening Right Now
- Insurity Adds Strategic Investment Partner, General Atlantic
- Beyond Transformation: The Convergence of Finance, Risk, and Actuarial Functions
- The Rapid Evolution of Consumer Protection Regulation
- Talent Hunt: Finding, Attracting, Retaining Top People
- Insurers Flexing Their Distribution Models
- Technology Driving Disruption in Insurance
- Fear of ‘Next Bubble’ Challenges Life, Annuity Carriers
- Technology Allows Commercial Lines Insurers to Stand Out
- Single Sign-on Viewed as Biggest Tech Challenge for Agencies
- ISCS Observes 20th Anniversary; Scurto Predicts Major Changes Ahead
- Policyholders and Their First Impressions
- Progressive Making Progress on the UBI Front
- High and Dry: Insurers Search for Disaster Recovery Plans
- Insurers Sign The (Un)Dotted Line
- Reflections of a Retired Insurance CIO
- Mobile Device Management Just One Answer to BYOD Issue
- Lessons from GEICO and Progressive on Winning the Critical Buying Stage
- You Are a Target for a Cyber Attack
- Web-based Systems are the Next Evolution in Claims Technology
- Gaining a “Wow” Experience from Web Users
- Time to Shift from Business/IT Alignment to Business/IT Alliance
- Healthcare Insurers Changing to Consumer Model
- Organization is the Key for Selecting Software Vendors
- Analysts Expound on the Needs of the Mid-tier Insurance Market
- Finding the Cure for Obamacare’s Website
- New Software Solutions Benefit Insurers on the Inside and Outside
- Products, Market Impede Investment in Systems for Life Insurers
- Combatting Cyber Threats: Predict, Prevent, Persist
- The Future of Telematics Heads Beyond Insurance
- The Shame in Cyber Security Lapses
- Building Policy Administration Systems for the Future
- Insurers Look Into The Eyes of Their Policyholders
- It’s a New Dawn for the ITA
INSURANCE IT NEWS
- Arturo Hires New General Counsel
- Zurich NA Adds Chisel AI for Underwriting
- Insurity Acquires AuSuM Systems
- Method Insurance to Streamline Underwriting with Origami Risk
- BrokerTech Ventures Launches BTV LATAM Partnership, Adds UNICO Group as Broker Partner
- Roost Rolls Out White-Label Home Security Solution
- Norway’s Gjensidige Pensjonsforsikring Selects Sapiens Digital Solution
- Insurium Names Insurtech Veteran Jeremy Williams CEO
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.
ITA LIVE 2020
ITA LIVE 2020 –SAVE THE DATE!
April 5th – 7th, 2020
The Diplomat Resort
Become a member today to receive updates – www.itapro.org/MR
You have surely heard it said that small businesses are the growth engine for America. Today, the phrase has a special ring to it for benefits... READ MORE
With stagnant growth and lingering low interest rates, the life insurance industry faces a challenging future... READ MORE
Finding insurance carriers willing to write commercial lines risks has always been a challenge for producers... READ MORE
As Guidewire Software prepares for the start of Connections, its 11th annual user conference that begins on Nov. 2, Brian Desmond, chief marketing... READ MORE
Successful implementation requires balancing operational and emotional issues... READ MORE
- Vendor Views