Article | July 14, 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.
Automobile Insurance, Insurance Technology
Article | December 19, 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 | July 13, 2022
There is no doubt that we are living in an era in which insurers have been called to transform their business offerings, infrastructure and operations. Successful transformation translates into new revenue opportunities, stronger customer relationships and sustained brand relevance. However, this need to evolve cannot be addressed through superficial changes. Leading insurers are transforming their core offerings to completely reimagine their role in the insurance landscape. As the nominations and winners for the Efma-Accenture Innovation in Insurance Core Insurance Transformation award show, leading insurers are starting their core transformation at the top, and applying it to every touchpoint of the business.
Nine pioneering nominees
The nine nominees in the core insurance transformation category lead core insurance transformation in various innovations across their value chain. The nominations were:
AXA for A.Iconic Claims
Discovery for AI Quote
RBC for their conversational AI Platform, driven by Personal Insights for Life Insurance Application
Generali for their fund transaction through blockchain innovation
FWD for the AI-Everywhere Smart Insurance Framework
China Life Insurance for an intelligent value evaluation system for salesforce
Multiasistencia for MACARENA, an innovative AI voicebot that provides100% automated First Notice of Loss in home insurance claims
Humania for their ground-breaking income insurance for accident and disability claims
Mapfre for Verbatims, a cognitive behavioural model that integrates live customer feedback
As can be seen, by the nominees above, AI is a leading technology in core insurance transformation. In fact, every innovation used technology in fresh, structured ways to create a lasting impact on their business. Let’s look closer at the winners, and what their innovations say about how to lead core insurance transformation in 2021.
Discovery are transforming the way brokers and clients engage with them through the introduction of their AI Quote service. Users are able to upload a PDF or pictures of competitor insurance and investment documents via phone or computer, and receive an equivalent Discovery quote in seconds. The entire journey can be completed in under a minute. Brokers can take the quotes to their clients and where a client has completed the direct journey, they will be called by a sales agent to discuss the specifics of the quote and close the sale.
Romek Sadowski, Discovery Life’s Head of Technical Marketing says, “Ultimately, AI-powered optical character recognition (OCR) technology has been able to equip us with a seamless journey for clients, advisers and employees of the business as a whole. For clients, benefits include receiving a comparable quote in less than a minute and an improved understanding of Discovery’s products relative to the market. For advisers, key benefits include more accurate and consistent competitor comparisons, as well as a reduction in sales and quoting frictions. By automating the process of extracting data from policy documents and then converting it into comparable Discovery Life benefits, our advisers are able to spend less time on manual work and more time assisting our clients.
AI Quote has also created opportunities for Discovery Life to incorporate digital tools into many of our existing processes and create a single, seamless, digital journey for advisers and clients alike. Additional innovations, such as Virtual Underwriting which allows clients to undergo underwriting from anywhere they choose, have been developed and are being refined in order to make this goal for a seamless digital journey a reality.”
This is an important innovation in the South African insurance and investment landscape, which is highly developed and innovative, and characterised by frequent product updates and enhancements. While products are fine-tuned to meet customer needs, it’s difficult for brokers to keep track of various products in the market and how they compare from one competitor to another. Clients are also not in the position to understand how exactly their financial products compare against competitors.
“The South African insurance industry is a complex environment with a vast array of sophisticated products. Financial advisers are faced with numerous competitors each with multiple products and options, resulting in countless different quoting combinations. By automating the comparison process, AI Quote simplifies the new business experience for both advisers and clients, increasing conversion rates and improving stakeholder satisfaction. AI Quote ensures that clients who have existing policies with our competitors are quoted comparable Discovery benefits and gives advisers confidence that they are providing clients with the best possible advice when comparing policies.”
By removing sales frictions and automatically carrying out comparisons, Discovery’s AI Quote aims to enhance the company’s exposure to potential clients, attract brokers to sell Discovery products, improve the accuracy of replacements and promote Discovery’s brand as a market-leading innovator. With an efficient client- and broker-centric platform, Discovery has taken quoting to the next level.
The potential for AI, however, is just beginning to be untapped. Romek concludes, “The insurance landscape is evolving, and we have seen an influx in microinsurance providers, direct-to-customer insurers and niche players in the market. When it comes to life insurance, clients are faced with a dauntingly large number of options – and that number is increasing. Within such complexity, manual processing of data in order to generate benefit comparisons is simply inefficient. A key benefit of AI is that it can complement or replace manual processes and allows for a far more streamlined user experience.
Outside of the new business process, AI has displayed immense success in other areas such as customer service, underwriting and claims. Chatbots are now commonly used by insurers around the world to assist clients and answer their questions. Car insurance has been fundamentally changed through advancements in telematics. Big data is more readily available and, with the help of AI, can be utilised to make faster and more accurate pricing and underwriting decisions.”
Generali conducted a deep transformation in the way they transact with their counterparts and custodians through the use of blockchain technology.
Generali France currently processes 250 thousand orders on funds (to cover unit-linked policies) per year through classical schemes via custodians. The aim is to generate a direct link with asset managers for trading shares of funds without using the costly transfer agent of custodians.
With this transformation in mind, Generali France invested in a startup called Iznes, developing a trading platform on funds based on blockchain technology. With this as a foundation, Generali has begun to connect its IT and operations to the innovative platform.
The innovation can serve all middle and back offices of investment departments and asset management companies. It crunches transaction costs and creates a direct link between the buy-side and the sell-side. The total cost of Generali Unit-linked orders is expected to drop by half, supposing that 50% of counterparts join the platform.
Led by their customers’ needs and vision to change the way people feel about insurance, FWD Group Data developed a ‘Smart Insurance Framework’ which sees the business embarking on a ‘AI-everywhere’ approach. The platform has transformed the entire insurance journey for both their customers and employees with the use of advanced technologies and AI power.
To create a simpler and smoother insurance experience for customers, FWD created a modern data architecture framework that improves operation efficiency internally and convenience externally. The Group Office Data Platform (GODP) streamlines and integrates all data into a single platform that is smart, secured and scalable. This platform allows business users to harness data, insights and run analytics across all our markets, to help support a spectrum of initiatives in FWD with data. The clever use of data allows FWD to evolve and predict customer responses more accurately, develop a better understanding of customer needs and behaviour, and in turn serve them better.
As the nominees and winners show, the insurance industry is embracing technology to pre-empt, analyze and streamline customer, broker and employee experiences. We would love to hear how you are transforming your core insurance operations. Submit your core insurance innovation to the Efma-Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards for 2022.
Article | April 17, 2020
The world is facing an unprecedented situation like never before. In the span of a couple of weeks, a visually undetectable virus has wreaked havoc and driven everyone home. COVID-19 had led offices to close, the economy to slow down, and has isolated us in our homes. Zooming in on the insurance industry, the effects haven’t gone unnoticed here either. Since no one was prepared for a pandemic of this scale, people are scrambling to know what their insurance covers. Those who weren’t covered are enquiring if they can get covered now. Travel and health insurance are the specific types are making the most news.