For Emerging Technologies, Insurers Should Keep Use Cases and Value in Mind

As the new decade dawns, insurers are focusing more heavily on technology that can help them sell more, manage risk better, and cost less to operate. Novarica tracks insurers’ interest, pilot activity, and deployment of 16 key technologies in our annual Emerging Technology in Insurance report, which has been newly updated for 2020. This report covers technologies from big data to blockchain at their varying stages of maturity using data provided by more than 100 property/casualty and life/annuity insurers.

Spotlight

Donegal Insurance Group

The Donegal Insurance Group consists of Donegal Mutual Insurance Company, Atlantic States Insurance Company, Southern Insurance Company of Virginia, Le Mars Insurance Company, The Peninsula Insurance Company, Peninsula Indemnity Company, Sheboygan Falls Insurance Company, Southern Mutual Insurance Company and Michigan Insurance Company.

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Core Insurance, Risk Management

Emergency Prevention: 3 Ways Insurtech is Leading the Way

Article | September 22, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the pressures on emergency medical services and healthcare professionals as well as insurance platforms. Insurtech has proved to be a robust area of technology that needs further investments to ensure that we are able to leverage it even in times when there’s little global turmoil. The Efma-Accenture Innovations in Insurance award winners have validated the exponential expansion of insurtech. Here are three insurtech innovations driving emergency prevention in healthcare. 1 bAIby – Interpreting Baby Cries bAIby is a next-gen baby monitoring device powered by AI. Labelled as a “cry translator,” the BabyT device uses AI to interpret what a baby’s cries mean. The bAIby solution is based on the understanding that the first six months of a baby’s cries universally communicate the following: sleepiness hunger discomfort stomach issues The developer of the BabyT AI, Zoundream, collaborated with insurance company Generali to enroll young parents and test BabyT. This allowed Zoundream to collect the massive amounts of data sets required to train the AI. The AI is able to detect pathologies like hyperthyroidism, autism and even hearing impairment. Furthermore, it will enable Generali to provide new parents with assistance, prevention, and insurance services, thus providing the peace of mind that insurance services should provide. This innovation won the gold in the Efma-Accenture Innovations in Insurance award. 2 Air Doctor – Finding a Doctor Overseas Silver winner Air Doctor is a cutting edge solution to help individuals find general practitioners in unfamiliar places. The solution is aimed at travellers and expatriates whose first instinct when sick overseas may be to visit a hospital, leading to high medical costs and burdening the local healthcare system. The Air Doctor platform provides access to a network of physicians in six continents and 70 countries. The information includes the doctor’s location, specialization, as well as online appointment booking and virtual care options. Insurance providers can integrate with the platform to connect with their customers by offering a digital link for quick verification and approval. The platform has made managing basic medical attention easier for both consumers and insurance providers. 3 bolttech – Boosting Insurance Penetration Bronze winner bolttech was recognized for its smart insurance exchange ecosystem that enables non-insurers to integrate insurance solutions into their purchase journey. For instance, smartphone vendors can use bolttech to provide insurance as an option during the purchase of a new phone, leveraging the most effective purchase touchpoints to provide coverage. This is especially crucial in markets that have a low penetration of insurance. bolttech’s platform has medical plans with self-declared underwriting, delivering instant cover and reducing the onboarding time to just 90 seconds. 4 The Way Forward Digitalization of insurance is the future of the industry. The above solutions have proven use cases that enable both consumers and providers to leverage digital network to create secure and stress-free access to insurance.

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Insurance Technology

Are motor claims in Europe about to rebound?

Article | July 15, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to the insurance industry overall, dramatically curtailing business activity, upending the everyday lives of employees and customers, and more. However, companies that derive a substantial portion of their business from motor insurance have enjoyed stronger bottom-line results during the pandemic than in previous years. That’s because when sudden lockdowns kept drivers at home and off the road (see exhibit), claims plunged by 60 to 80 percent almost immediately. As restrictions began to lift, claim volumes subsequently bounced back, although they remain 20 to 30 percent lower than they were before the pandemic. The corresponding drop in payouts for claims was only partially offset by the refunds on premiums that insurers paid to customers to compensate them for traveling fewer miles. Are motor claims in Europe about to rebound? As of mid-2021, motor claims volume remains suppressed—at least for the time being. For insurers, this offers a short-term window to pursue or accelerate strategic initiatives aimed at establishing claims excellence, a key driver of profitability. These initiatives include transforming claims processes to improve customer experience, building digital capabilities, leveraging advanced analytics to improve decision-making, and reducing long-standing sources of leakage. Acting now will help insurers be prepared when vaccination rates across Europe accelerate, economies reopen, and both mobility and motor claims rebound. Even as the pandemic recedes and business returns, insurers are likely to confront three persistent challenges that can be addressed—at least in part—by transforming claims management to improve profitability. Top-line pressure will continue. Pandemic-related top-line pressure will likely continue for the foreseeable future. If history serves as a guide, commercial lines, which suffered from a temporary halt in business activity in the tourism, aviation, entertainment, and local business sectors, may be slow to recover. During the 2008 financial crisis, for instance, commercial lines took significantly longer to recover than personal lines. As for personal lines today, declines in everyday commuting have altered customers’ perceptions of the value of insurance: if they drive less, they expect to pay less. As noted above, some insurers have proactively offered their customers premium paybacks for reduced car usage—a change that could endure. Digital is here to stay. Because of the pandemic, people shifted many everyday activities to remote channels and adopted new digital tools. For example, across Europe, 60 to 70 percent of consumers moved some of their shopping online, and most intend to perpetuate the new habit after the pandemic ends. This shift in customer behavior extended to engagement with insurers. In the United Kingdom, claims notifications filed via digital channels doubled during the pandemic, and insurers received 30 percent more digital inquiries than in the past. However, customers’ growing expectations for an end-to-end digital experience—with 24/7 service, instant feedback, and a user-friendly interface—still place most insurers in the position of playing catch-up. The large majority of customers still prefer to place a call rather than use digital self-service; in Europe, for example, more than 50 percent of claims are initiated when a customer contacts an agent. This preference could indicate that insurers have yet to fully digitize the claims handling process. Inflation will affect claims costs. Insurers anticipate increased pressure on claims costs from multiple sources. First, car repair shops have suffered the knock-on effects of the COVID-19-induced drop in claims volume. Many received government help, but they also responded by increasing labor rates and margins on spare parts. The claims inflation rate currently sits at 4 to 5 percent. Ongoing cost pressure means repair shops are unlikely to reinstate their pre-COVID-19 price levels without some restructuring in the sector. In one scenario, insurers could step into the role of ecosystem orchestrators, significantly consolidating repair volumes and offering strong incentives—including extending insurance services to include maintenance and offering negotiated prices for parts and labor—to repair shops to participate. Meanwhile, insurers can analyze increased volumes of claims data to continually assess the performance of repair shops and then use those insights to guide customers to the best deals. Even before the pandemic, insurers had made strides in improving the bottom line by increasing productivity and optimizing technical excellence, particularly via pricing. Now is the time to tackle claims. Claims organizations can use this period of lower claims volume to plan their strategic investments in advanced analytics transformation, to devise new digital talent strategies, and to improve their understanding of customer needs and expectations. A complete suite of analytics and updated process automation—prerequisites for accurate, end-to-end automation—constitute the backbone of the new claims and customer experience model. The tools are evolving, driving automated decision-making along the entire claims handling process: routing, triaging, liability negotiation, cost estimating, deciding to repair or write off damaged vehicles, cash settlements, and fraud detection. All these areas will increasingly use digital and analytics as opposed to manual labor, changing the entire claims operating model. Responding to customer demands for a seamless claims experience is a top priority. The pandemic has proved that customers are eager for and accepting of new digital experiences. They expect full transparency throughout the claims journey; minimal effort on their part (for example, very little engagement back and forth with the agent to get the claim resolved and receive payment); faster resolution of claims, perhaps including automated payments; and the ability to move seamlessly between the digital and physical worlds. Furthermore, insurers can work to reduce leakage and improve the bottom line. Leakage takes many forms, including replacing rather than repairing a vehicle, offering a luxury replacement vehicle rather than a car that matches the customer’s vehicle class, and incurring costs for in-person loss assessments even in obvious cases for which pictures would suffice. Tackling leakage will entail enabling efficient detection of anomalies, selecting claims for detailed review, and empowering the claims organizations to efficiently close claims that cast no doubt. Accomplishing these critical objectives will entail a shift from a scattered and often siloed approach using unintegrated digital and analytics tools to end-to-end digital- and analytics-enabled claims processes. On the front end, insurers will need to establish tools on par with the top digital services their customers use every day (for example, ride-hailing apps, social media, and digital banks). On the back end, claims organization will need to invest in a suite of analytics engines to support automated decision-making to cut costs. The opportunity starts with claims prevention—using telematics and the Internet of Things to issue safety warnings and damage prevention tips—and continues throughout the claims processing journey, from providing customers with an easy digital first notice of loss interface and improving claims cost accuracy, to digital selection of a repair shop and automated payment processing and invoice checks. This relative lull in activity also gives insurers a good time to provide teams handling claims with the training they need to learn new processes and operate new digital tools. Claims are already rebounding, so the clock is ticking for insurers. Building end-to-end digital and analytics solutions requires significant investment and will take substantial time. For claims organizations, it is critical to act now or risk missing the opportunity to emerge from the pandemic stronger than competitors.

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Insurance Technology

3 Signs Your Policy Management Software is Not a Good Fit

Article | August 9, 2022

Policy management assists insurance companies in staying on track to meet their client objectives by selling more policies and collecting more premiums. However, organizations using inadequate or fractured policy management software may be leaving a lot on the table. According to a study by Accenture, automation could save the insurance industry a cumulative $5-7 billion. Are you facing hurdles in processing policies? Are some of the tasks like policy renewal, policy issuance, policy binding etc., that are supposedly automated still taking up time and resources away from the company? If so, it might be time to rethink your policy management. Here are three signs to look out for when this happens. There are Hiccups in Your Policy Processing Processes Being able to make universal changes and synergize different processes is a crucial aspect of policy management. If your insurance policy management tool isn’t able to keep up with the information or automate tasks like making updates and syncing information in real-time, it may be time to reconsider it and seek a solution that integrates Robotic Process Automation, or RPA. RPA tools enable organizations to reduce processing time for issuing, updating and cancelling a policy. The Underwriting Stage Takes Up a Lot of Time Underwriting can be a tedious, time-consuming process. With modern policy management solutions, it is possible to automate a number of tasks within underwriting. If your application is contributing to negligible or no reduction in the time it takes for underwriters to process everything. From the applicant’s credit history and scores to savings and loos-run reports, the underwriter needs to manually process this data. However, before that, the data needs to be reached in a streamlined manner. If your platform doesn’t support intelligent automation, digitalizing the underwriting process isn’t possible, in turn hampering the ability to access information when needed. It is Difficult to Keep Up with Claims Processing Claims management is an integral part of any insurance workflow, and its automation adds immense business value. If your claim settlement process is slow, filled with bottlenecks, and is impacting consumer experience, your existing platform isn’t doing any favours. Advanced claims processing solutions let you integrate features that align with the workflows of the insurer. Customer Experience Isn’t Up to the Mark Poor policy management processes are always reflected in the overall customer experience. Are you inundated with customer complaints, feedback about slow processing, and injured employee morale from poor performance and higher work load? The key is to take a good look at your current workflow and how it is affecting the end consumer. In a high-stress service like insurance, nothing less than an impeccable customer experience is a base expectation. The lack of responsiveness in your communication can result in a high customer churn rate. With a good policy management solution, your teams are able to stay on track and automate tasks when needed in order to keep customers updated. Final Word The insurance sector is a fast-paced business world and requires insurtech solutions that can handle the tremendous pressures and demands of customers. The four signs indicate that it might be time to introspect and, if needed, jumpstart your digital transformation journey.

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Automobile Insurance, Insurance Technology

How the Blockchain is Revolutionizing the Auto Insurance Industry

Article | December 19, 2022

The blockchain has penetrated the mainstream. We predicted this in our 2019 article “Blockchain-as-a-Service: the Accelerator for Blockchain Adoption” where we talked about the technology's ease of integration. Companies can seamlessly adopt blockchain technologies by referring to existing use cases like smart contracts, data authentication, and asset management. They can also take advantage of open-source materials. With the blockchain's accessibility on top of its formidable qualities, it’s no surprise that the digital ledger system is being integrated into every industry–from banking and healthcare to gaming and cybersecurity. As a cornerstone of the rise of financial technology or fintech, another industry it’s now serving is auto insurance. Here’s how the blockchain is revolutionizing the auto insurance industry: Benefits of the blockchain in auto insurance Multiple back-and-forths can slow down the manual processing of both insurance contracts and filed claims. Blockchain-based tools can speed this up by accessing necessary information through the data network. Insurers can easily access and verify the personally-identifiable information (PII) required for insurance contracts via the blockchain, as well. This means no lengthy coordination with other parties, shorter queuing time, and less paperwork. Moreover, the blockchain helps those who buy auto insurance worry less about their PII being used by malicious individuals and organizations. Monash University asserts blockchain security effectiveness by pointing out how its design can alert any network of even the most minor changes to the data it contains. This is because blocks containing data are marked with hashes–input strings of computation characters–that become invalid when information is modified. When hashes become invalid, the network is notified. With such a prompt and responsive alert system, insurance agencies can easily detect hacking activities to protect sensitive data. Blockchain applications in auto insurance The most significant benefit of the blockchain’s application in auto insurance arguably lies in optimizing property and casualty (P&C) insurance verification processes. Sound Dollar defines property and casualty insurance as coverage for any damage the possessions stipulated in your contract incurs. Blockchain-based tools, like smart contracts, can immediately gather relevant information from an insurer's network to verify damaged possessions. It can also identify which ones are covered by your insurance contract. This streamlined verification process saves insurers billions of dollars in operational costs and makes filing a claim much easier for the client. The blockchain can also be used to minimize and prevent fraud. Some of the best blockchain-based tools can identify whether an individual claims payouts from multiple insurers. These tools cross-check PII and non-PII with salient information from claims filed elsewhere to check for similarities. Moreover, the Insurance Innovation Reporter found that advancements in anti-fraud blockchain technology can detect third-party helpers, such as garages and brokers. This enables insurers to expand their data on fraudulent networks and prevent future cases of fraud. Challenges to full implementation of the blockchain in auto insurance Before full-on integration, developers and businesses have to address data integrity. While blockchain data cannot be edited, it does not ascertain that encoded information is true. This means data has to be verified before it's encoded on the blockchain. Blockchain-based technology is also expected to become more expensive in the coming years. As it becomes mainstream, demand for the technology and relevant development research will further drive operation and maintenance costs upwards. There is still much work to be done if the auto insurance industry wishes to fully integrate the blockchain into its workflows. But with the long-term benefits it brings, insurers and clients alike will undoubtedly look to blockchain-based technology for improved services and a better overall experience.

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Spotlight

Donegal Insurance Group

The Donegal Insurance Group consists of Donegal Mutual Insurance Company, Atlantic States Insurance Company, Southern Insurance Company of Virginia, Le Mars Insurance Company, The Peninsula Insurance Company, Peninsula Indemnity Company, Sheboygan Falls Insurance Company, Southern Mutual Insurance Company and Michigan Insurance Company.

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Auto insurance rates have been climbing up at a steady rate lately, and this is becoming more and more obvious to the average person. In fact, some people have started to get worried about the situation and the implications it holds for the future. And the worst part is, many of those people have a very poor understanding of the auto insurance market and how it works, and as a result have no idea what's causing these changes. Understanding the current market dynamics is important if you want to get the best deal on your own insurance, and it's even more important if you're planning any big purchases of this type in the future. You have to make sure that you can get the best deal on your future insurance plans.

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Aquiline to Acquire Relation Insurance Services in California

Aquiline Capital Partners LLC | February 22, 2019

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Auto-Owners Insurance snaps up regional insurer

Capital Insurance Group | February 20, 2019

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