Article | July 15, 2022
Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations have increasingly entered the mainstream of investment discussions, both through routine incorporation into traditional investment processes and through distinct sustainable or impact investing styles. Recent and current global conditions, such as extreme weather events, the inequitable effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising distrust of government institutions, and geopolitical challenges to a rules-based world order, have accelerated this trend, emphasizing the direct relevance of ESG and sustainability to understanding long-term market risks and opportunities.
Until recently, equity investors were more concerned with ESG and sustainability than their fixed-income counterparts. That is, however, beginning to change, and at a rapid pace. ESG and sustainability have gained significant traction among bond investors, particularly since the implementation of COVID-19, and are now widely regarded as essential components of fixed income investing. For example, global sustainable debt issuance reached a new high of over US$1.6 trillion in 2021 and is expected to rise further in the coming years. Notably, we believe that ESG integration and sustainable fixed-income investing require a very deliberate, thoughtful approach — one that varies significantly from one fixed-income sector to the next.
ESG and sustainability:
At a high level, researchers believe that increased awareness of ESG and sustainability benefits global markets in two ways:
1. ESG integration allows market participants to think more holistically about the types of financially material risks and opportunities — such as physical, reputational, and (geo)political — that should ideally be reflected in asset valuations and taken into account during the routine portfolio construction and management process.
2. Furthermore, the conversation about sustainable investing is encouraging more market participants to look beyond narrow, issuer-specific investment thesis to consider how market participants' behaviors affect the broader systems and structures (e.g., climate stability, institutional strength) whose long-term viability is critical for the long-term health of economies and markets.
We, like many others, believe that a stable global climate, clean air and water for all, adherence to the rule of law, strong institutions with broad public legitimacy, and broad-based access to economic opportunity are valuable public goods from which market participants would benefit collectively over time. As a result, a central goal of sustainable investing is to assist markets in evolving toward rewarding participants for exercising responsible stewardship of these public goods, which are critical to pursuing favorable long-term outcomes for the real people who are the ultimate beneficiaries of markets. This framing of sustainability highlights why fixed income is so important in moving global markets and economies in a more sustainable direction.
Article | August 9, 2022
Automated claims processing, price comparison platforms, mobile bill paying—these are just some of the digital services that insurance customers expect and insurers want to provide. As the demand for digital skyrockets, so does the need for insurers to invest in IT. In the past seven years, the share of IT in total operating costs of property-and-casualty (P&C) insurers increased 22 percent. The rise of digital means technology is no longer a cost center. Rather, it is an asset that, if managed well, can increase growth and profitability.
But do these IT investments pay off? As the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates already increasing cost pressures, insurers’ IT budgets are under scrutiny; they want to see the business impact of their IT investments.
Insurers with targeted IT investments achieve better growth and performance
Data from McKinsey’s Insurance 360° benchmarking survey provide strong evidence of the positive business impact of targeted IT investments. In fact, insurers that invest more in technology outpace competitors that don’t pursue targeted investments in business measures such as gross written premium (GWP) growth, return to shareholders, and expense and loss ratio (exhibit).
As an example, in life insurance, companies that invested more in IT saw a greater reduction in expense ratios (by 2.0 percentage points) and higher returns on technical reserves2 (1.7 percentage points) when compared with insurers with lower IT investments. Insurers achieved these outcomes within three to five years of making their investments.
For P&C insurers, those with high IT investments achieved approximately twice the top-line GWP growth of low IT investors. High IT investments also produced a greater reduction in combined ratios when compared with those with low IT investment.
Four areas for targeted IT investment
So what kinds of technology investments can help insurers achieve growth and improve productivity and performance? Investments in four areas are critical:
Marketing and sales: Marketing technology solutions can increase sales and processing efficiency, improve the quality of core customer-facing processes such as policy inquiries and policy applications, and improve customers’ overall experiences. McKinsey’s Insurance 360° benchmarking data show that tech investments in this category can facilitate top-line growth for P&C insurers by up to 20–40 percent; for life insurers, that growth could be 10–25 percent over a three- to five-year period.
Underwriting and pricing: Automated underwriting fraud detection can improve the likelihood that insurers correctly identify fraud and set accurate prices. A pricing tool kit that analyzes pricing across competitors and enables a flexible, more segmented market versus technical pricing further improves profit margins. Insurers that deploy these and other product, pricing, and underwriting technologies have seen improvements in their profit margins by 10–15 percent in P&C insurance and 3–5 percent in life insurance.
Policy servicing: Workflow automation, artificial intelligence–based decision support, and user experience technologies in policy servicing and within IT can improve the customer self-service experience and automate back-office processes, thus reducing IT and operations expenses. And state-of-the-art self-servicing options will reduce processing times and even improve customer experience. An analysis of programs for large-scale insurance IT modernization finds that insurers that deploy these and other product, pricing, and underwriting technologies have seen improvements in their profit margins by 5–10 percent in P&C insurance and 10–15 percent in life insurance.
Claims: P&C insurers can use automated case processing—machine-learning technology trained to process basic claims cases—to segment more complex cases and significantly improve claims accuracy. Combined with better partner integration and steering technologies embedded in a transformation of the claims operating model, such technologies can help P&C insurers improve profit margins by 25–40 percent, according to McKinsey analysis of large-scale IT modernization programs.
To realize the full value of IT investments, insurers must strategically allocate their resources and view tech as an asset, not a tool.
Article | July 14, 2022
In the financial services industry, reliance on big data has been increasing at a global level. The usage is not limited to marketing purposes alone but extends to fraud and risk prevention. Customer demand for personalised products is responsible for this shift. The future of insurance is also being shaped differently due to this. The current lengthy questionnaires won’t be needed at all. Just the data collected will help to accurately predict risk and create policies customised to the person’s needs.
Article | March 29, 2022
As AI becomes more deeply integrated into the industry, carriers must position themselves to respond to the changing business landscape. Insurance executives are expected to understand the factors driving this shift and how AI in insurance will impact claims, distribution, underwriting, and pricing. They can start to learn the skills and talent they need, embrace new technology in the insurance industry, and build the culture and perspective they need to be successful in the future insurance market with this grip.
While there are four types of levers that might help with productivity efforts—functional excellence, structural simplification, business transformation, and enterprise agility—insurers typically focus on the first two. Those levers are the foundation of efficient and effective operations, it isn't easy to leapfrog them. Traditional industry barriers are dissolving while technology advances and customer expectations vary dramatically. Ecosystems, which are groups of services that work together in a single integrated experience, are becoming more common across industries. Platforms that connect offerings from different industries are also becoming more common.
In an interview with Media 7, Darcy Shapiro, COO of Americas at Cover Genius, talked about the changing expectations of consumers in the insurance industry.
“Consumers expect brands to provide the same high-quality day-to-day experiences directly within the digital platforms they use most. Insurance should be no different.”
Darcy Shapiro, COO of Americas at Cover Genius
The Increasing Acceptance of Parametric Insurance
In contrast to traditional policies, which are paid based on actual loss incurrence, metric insurance has been around for a while, providing payouts when a specific event exceeds an agreed-upon threshold. Previously being used specifically for natural disaster coverage and supplied to countries and large corporations, parametric insurance is making a comeback today. Advancements in sensor technology, data analytics, and Artificial Intelligence (AI in insurance) create broader information indexes on various levels, which opens up parametric risk applications in novel ways.
A reinsurance company recently introduced a parametric water-level insurance product to shield businesses from the financial consequences of high or low river water levels. The program considers measured water levels at specific river gauges and agrees to pay a fixed amount for each day that the index remains below a predetermined threshold value. Other new-generation parametric solutions include terrorism protection for cities and airports, protection for retailers when transit strikes cut down on pedestrian traffic, and help for hotels when there are outbreaks.
The advantages of parametric insurance include faster delivery and avoiding lengthy claims investigations. Furthermore, since parametric products have less uncertainty than traditional insurance, premiums can be significantly lower. In terms of technology, parametric insurance is best suited to blockchain technology, with smart contracts that pay out automatically when certain parameters are met.
A Flood of Data from Connected Devices
Fitness bands, home assistants, smartwatches, and other smart devices are rapidly becoming a part of our daily lives. In addition, smart clothing and medical devices will soon join the fray.
Sensor-equipped equipment has long been common in industrial settings, but the number of connected consumer products is expected to skyrocket in the coming years. Existing gadgets (such as automobiles, fitness trackers, home assistants, smartphones, and smartwatches) will continue to grow. In contrast, new and expanding categories (such as clothing, eyewear, home appliances, medical devices, and shoes) will join them. According to analysts, interconnected devices will reach one trillion by 2025.
The data generated by these devices will result in a flood of new data that carriers can use to understand their customers better, resulting in new product categories, more customized pricing, and an increase in real-time service delivery.
The insurance industry can mine the data generated by these smart devices to better understand their customers’ preferences. This information can also assist insurers in developing new and more personalized product categories.
The Rise of the Insurance Ecosystem
According to McKinsey, insurance ecosystems will generate 30% of global revenue by 2025.
With an expanding array of data sources and a data-driven culture, many insurers will soon be able to plug into and exploit data from complementing firms. These agreements are evolving to involve traditional insurers as well as technology companies. For example, an insurance firm in Europe teamed up with a smart-home technology vendor to improve its home insurance. The latter's technology can detect smoke and carbon monoxide, preventing losses. In addition, a global initiative of a major reinsurance company is developing an ecosystem for InsurTech start-ups and digital distributors. Recent McKinsey research also shows that the insurance business has been having a hard time making efficiency gains for a long time.
Moreover, the operating expense disparity between the best and worst performers in P & C and life has widened over the last decade. Functional excellence, structural simplicity, business transformation, and enterprise agility are four productivity levers that insurers often focus on. Those levers are essential to efficient and productive operations. Ecosystems, which are groups of services that work together, are formed across industries and platforms that connect offerings from different sectors.
Insurers may use ecosystems to integrate their products into seamless client experiences. Ecosystems are essential in today's interconnected world, whether you want to build direct relationships with customers or work with companies that act as the customer interface.
Advancements in Cognitive Technology
Cognition is a critical component of AI in insurance. AI cognitive technologies mimic how the human brain functions. In addition, new technology may make it easier to process huge amounts of data, especially from active insurance products that are linked to specific people.
Carriers can constantly learn and adapt to the world thanks to cognitive technologies. As a result, it can enable insurance companies to introduce new product categories and engagement techniques and respond in real-time to changing underlying risks. In addition, convolutional neural networks and other deep learning technologies, which are currently used primarily for image, audio, and unstructured text processing, will be used in various applications in the future of insurance industry.