Article | July 20, 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.
Article | August 9, 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.
Article | July 15, 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.
Article | April 12, 2021
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.