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over the past few years, insurtechs are providing the much-needed disruption of the traditionally viewed, and sometimes outdated insurance industry.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.
Intelligent automation is here to help
Leon Stafford, UK country manager at Digital Workforce, comments: “Experience is everything in business today, and insurance is no different. Customers want fast, easy service which delivers what they want, through a channel they’re comfortable with.
“More and more people do not want to ring up and spend half an hour on the phone; they want to put some information into a digital form, review some potential offers, and purchase, all by tapping a screen. Should they need to pivot to a customer service representative, then they naturally expect all of this data to be available on another contact channel.
“Some providers get it. One group, in particular, provides its customers with an app that has access to all the relevant data the group holds on that individual, irrespective of which business unit the information sits in. The customer can review multiple policies, add additional services and receive tailored offers, increasingly the likelihood of a sale and growing share of wallet.
“The benefits of aggregating information in this way can be achieved through intelligent automation. Intelligent automation can collate data from both legacy and new platforms in order to present it to customers on digital channels.
“This is not a case of robots stealing jobs – human agents are of great value when contacted, but they have moved up the value chain from a customer perspective. By combining Intelligent Automation for the quick, repetitive work and human resource for connecting and building relationships, insurance providers can deliver tailored experiences at scale.”
The next stage of evolution
Mark McDonald, head of insurtech strategy at Altus, said: “Since the advent of insurtechs they’ve been driving disruption across the whole value chain especially end-consumer experience. Through hyper-focused, targeted propositions they are giving customers exactly what they want. Insurtechs really have demonstrated a customer-first mentality core to their DNA.
“Why is this so important?
“Tailoring insurance for the individual and not the mass market has shown how to build brand loyalty, trust and customer advocacy. Consider BoughtByMany, which grew out of bringing together groups of breed owners to find the most appropriate insurance for their particular pet breed.
“It pivoted to solely focus on insurance in 2017 and four years later is now a globally expanding, highly successful brand leader. As they establish, attracting customers away from the incumbent brands will always be a priority. Achieve this and insurtechs have the confidence that they can retain those customers.
“With no incumbent culture, they take learnings from other industry verticals, create more efficient, digital-first experiences, enabling customers to contact them when and how they want and use their channel and payment method of choice. All founded upon full engagement through the lifecycle of the insurance product.
“With growing maturity, we’re now seeing the next stage of evolution through the growth of ecosystems, where insurtechs are just one element of a broader customer proposition. This is being executed in two ways.
“Firstly, building on the customer trust that insurtech creates and integrating with like-minded organisations, offering relevant customised customer products and experiences. The second is to be part of another organisation’s ecosystem, embedding insurance into the customer journey; retail and travel being prime industry vertical targets.
“Ultimately, insurtechs may not yet have a broad market share, but the solutions and the methods for attracting, retaining and interacting with customers are truly disrupting incumbent insurers, making them sit up and listen.”
Engaged outside times of crisis
Teodor Blidarus, CEO and co-founder of FintechOS, comments: “For decades, the insurance industry has had a dated approach to customer experience. The sector is one of the oldest and most traditional, and because of that, one of the slowest to change – until now.
“The arrival of insurtechs has meant there’s been a new phenomenon of services and products arriving in the insurance space, reshaping customer experience for the better.
“From AI chatbots to automated claims processing, digital-savvy insurtechs are making an impression alongside other financial service companies who are blurring industry lines with insurance offerings powered by embedded finance. This has started to evolve insurance into an experience-based industry and incumbents need to catch up.
“Customer expectations are all about speed, quality and transparency, therefore, insurers need to simplify processes and expand offerings accordingly in order to retain and attract business. With insurance being a highly commoditised market, and with so much choice on offer, customer experience can be a major differentiator for insurers to distinguish themselves from the competition.
“With customers only making contact with their insurers when they either need to make a claim – usually at a time of crisis, insurers need to use digital channels and customer insight to keep their customers positively engaged outside times of crisis.”
Insurance companies become trusted advisors
Neeraj Gupta, CEO of Policybazaar.ae, said: “The insurance industry is constantly changing and recent factors like tailored quoting, 24/7 assistance are further accelerating this paradigm shift.
“The insurance ecosystem needs to work intelligently, faster and make sure to deliver a superior customer experience as their top priority. To level up their B2C and B2B relationship, it’s important to design products and services around the customer experience which turns insurance companies into trusted advisors.
Doing this would help them drive customer loyalty and ultimately, promote purchasing decisions.
“Also, offering hybrid experiences (human and artificial intelligence, physical and virtual or phygital) would help to a great extent. By infusing AI throughout the insurance ecosystem, the customer journey can significantly increase customer satisfaction and retention.
“It’s believed that with AI-based tools, insurance companies will benefit from increased speed, accuracy, and efficiency. Apart from this, organisations should prioritise personalised digital communications, they must add new channels to communicate with customers for policy questions and seamless claims (social media handles, website chatbox).
“Likewise, injecting transparent communication to customers by less use of jargon or maybe simple communication in the policy documents should be encouraged. Lastly, engaging with customers daily or throughout the year is the need of the hour rather than only reaching out to them during the renewal time.”
Flexible billing for tailored solutions
Dax Craig, co-founder and President of Pie Insurance, comments: “The rise of insurtechs and the rapid adoption of technology has forced the insurance industry as a whole to focus on providing easy-to-access and more affordable insurance.
“Traditional insurance companies, especially on the B2B side, have a reputation of being difficult to work with, offering an experience that is both manual and cumbersome. Historically, loyalty hasn’t been a priority for the industry, but with technology and automation doing some of the heavy lifting, providers are able to focus their attention on customer service and creating new tailored solutions.
“The use of data-driven technologies like AI, machine learning and predictive analytics allows providers to develop solutions that benefit customers by generating more accurate pricing. Today, quotes are far more customised, accurate, and in some cases, affordable than ever before.
“Digital technologies also created an incredibly fast and seamless experience for both customers and independent agents. Customers and agents can get a quote online in minutes, use self-service tools, and access educational resources in an instant.
“Insurtechs have helped modernise and mature distribution models, greatly improving accessibility for customers who are shopping for insurance. Specifically, on the B2B side, a customer can now shop for insurance in a variety of ways—directly online, via an agent, or even through their payroll company!
“Lastly, technology has enabled more flexibility in how customers pay for insurance. At Pie, we focus on workers’ comp insurance for small business owners—people who, more than ever before, are in need of affordable and convenient billing options.
“Recently, Pie launched a pay-as-you-go solution that allows policyholders to pay for their workers’ comp insurance policy on their individual payroll cycle, avoiding the need for an initial deposit. By making billing more convenient, we’ve enabled our small business customers to reduce upfront costs, improve overall cash flow, and simplify their workers’ comp audit experience.”