Insurance Awareness Day: Building The Right Connect

Insurance as a concept in India dates back to thousands of years where in the writings of Manusmriti, or Arthashastra, the thinkers of those times talked about pooling of resources so as to distribute them at the time of a calamity owing to fires, floods, famine or epidemics. Fast forward to 2019, the insurance industry is still here, its basic concept is still the same. But it has progressed leaps and bounds in terms of both - its product and service offerings and its processes of both collecting the money and settling the claims.

Spotlight

Smart Choice®

Smart Choice® is a network of over 9,000 independent agents and over 100 insurance carrier partners. We provide independent insurance agents with access to top-rated markets, product training, and sales and marketing support – and we’re the only no-fee program of our kind! Whether you’re a start-up agent, a former captive agent, or an experienced agent, Smart Choice® can give you the support and markets you deserve. We provide service from coast to coast, in 45 states, with access to personal, commercial, life and health markets, and customized business solutions guaranteed to make you a competitive agency. Smart Choice Agents enjoy additional benefits through our no-fee program, like access to our bi-monthly magazine, and our business solutions center.

OTHER ARTICLES
Core Insurance, Risk Management

Reinsurance Market Maintaining Its Firming Trend

Article | August 4, 2022

Despite economic pressures on reinsurers and cedants, nearly all buyers were able to secure coverage during the reinsurance renewal period. However, attachment levels and the cost of ceding risk were higher than most buyers desired, and supply constraints in some lines and territories caused stress not seen in years. As a result, according to Gallagher Re's latest 1st View renewals report, the reinsurance market has maintained its firming trend. Despite mostly positive H1 2022 results, the combination of inflation and rising interest rates has caused reinsurers to adjust their balance sheets and reserves while also taking into account how a recessionary environment may increase claims frequency. These economic factors, combined with sustained loss levels, allowed reinsurers to maintain upward pricing pressure as they sought to reduce their appetite for volatility. Key Contributions to Understanding: Natural disaster capacity decreased overall as reinsurers continued to shift away from low-level layers, which differed by country and region. Reinsurers were seen assessing cedants' inflation-related actions and applying carefully calculated loadings to relevant treaties. The Russian invasion of Ukraine increased interest in cyber and war contract provisions. Long-tail casualty placements remained popular among reinsurers, but there was more debate about ceding commissions than in recent renewals. Higher ILS risk transfer prices have attracted net new capital, but this has not resulted in market softening. The inflation discussions have been detailed and technical, with reinsurers eager to challenge cedants' model outputs. Most reinsurers are assessing reserve adequacy as interest rates rise, in addition to their concerns about primary rate adequacy in the new inflationary environment. They are experiencing effects simultaneously on the asset and liability sides, which has strengthened their resolve to maintain the pricing momentum of the previous two years.

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Insurance Technology

Are motor claims in Europe about to rebound?

Article | July 13, 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

How Will COVID-19 Affect Insurtech

Article | July 20, 2022

It is common knowledge that there is virtually no industry that has been immune to the effects of COVID-19. The global pandemic has caused massive shifts in individual and industrial behavior and will continue to do so in the months, if not years, to come. The P&C industry, like many others, is reeling from the effects of the virus. Amidst all these events, it is important to assess how the insurtech industry is going to be affected by COVID-19.

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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

Smart Choice®

Smart Choice® is a network of over 9,000 independent agents and over 100 insurance carrier partners. We provide independent insurance agents with access to top-rated markets, product training, and sales and marketing support – and we’re the only no-fee program of our kind! Whether you’re a start-up agent, a former captive agent, or an experienced agent, Smart Choice® can give you the support and markets you deserve. We provide service from coast to coast, in 45 states, with access to personal, commercial, life and health markets, and customized business solutions guaranteed to make you a competitive agency. Smart Choice Agents enjoy additional benefits through our no-fee program, like access to our bi-monthly magazine, and our business solutions center.

Related News

Valued Policy Law and Total Loss

inredisputesblog | May 21, 2019

Typically, a fire insurance policy pays a policyholder for the actual cash value or the replacement value of the property destroyed. But in 20 states, if there is a total loss, the amount the insurer must pay is equal to the value of the property at the time the insurance policy was issued. What happens if the policy covers a multi-building complex and one of the buildings is destroyed? The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals recently addressed this issue. In Norwood-Redfield Apartments Limited Partnership v. American Family Mutual Ins. Co., No. 18-2618 (8th Cir. May 16, 2019)(Unpublished), the appeals court affirmed a judgment in favour of the insurance company denying the policyholder’s claim to recover the full value listed on the policy of an entire complex of buildings when only one of the buildings was destroyed. The policyholder sued its insurance carrier after a fire destroyed one of the buildings out of 32 in the complex. The insurance carrier paid nearly $3 million for the loss, but the policyholder wanted the policy limits of over $31 million.

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Valued Policy Law and Total Loss

inredisputesblog | May 21, 2019

Typically, a fire insurance policy pays a policyholder for the actual cash value or the replacement value of the property destroyed. But in 20 states, if there is a total loss, the amount the insurer must pay is equal to the value of the property at the time the insurance policy was issued. What happens if the policy covers a multi-building complex and one of the buildings is destroyed? The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals recently addressed this issue. In Norwood-Redfield Apartments Limited Partnership v. American Family Mutual Ins. Co., No. 18-2618 (8th Cir. May 16, 2019)(Unpublished), the appeals court affirmed a judgment in favour of the insurance company denying the policyholder’s claim to recover the full value listed on the policy of an entire complex of buildings when only one of the buildings was destroyed. The policyholder sued its insurance carrier after a fire destroyed one of the buildings out of 32 in the complex. The insurance carrier paid nearly $3 million for the loss, but the policyholder wanted the policy limits of over $31 million.

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