Innovation, InsurTech, the Internet of Things, the connected home/car, the sharing economy, blockchain, cyber, reputational loss - these are the buzzwords of the moment and sum up the challenges facing the insurance market. How can a traditional, process-orientated and legacy-bound industry embrace new technology, new ways of thinking, and a truly customer-focused, customer-driven approach? How can it attract and retain innovative staff that think differently and are not by their very nature process-focused?
Too often insurers – and brokers – have managed to attract talent from other retail-orientated businesses only to lose them quite quickly as the cultures clash. This culture clash must be overcome or got around.
Bolt-on start-ups are one approach; partnering with others is another; but these are all a short-term fix for a longer-term issue. The brave new world is here, right now, and throwing up opportunities for insurance to demonstrate its value to customers – in both personal and commercial lines – embracing on-demand, lifestyle solutions and new emerging risks. And an opportunity to be more transparent with customers to explain how insurance works – both key to improving customer trust in the insurance profession.
These opportunities are just some of the reasons why the Chartered Insurance Institute is delighted to support this research into the challenges facing the insurance community as it looks to ensure it remains relevant to the changing needs of a changing society.
I hope the information in this report will encourage everyone across the profession, from junior staff to established industry leaders, to invest in understanding the changing landscape and to identify the additional skills and knowledge they will need in order to meet changing customer needs.
Twelve months ago we reported on an industry taking hesitant steps towards its digital future. Now, as we again take the pulse of the insurance industry, we find that its pace has quickened, fired by the adrenalin shot of competition from start-ups that are now so numerous and well-capitalised that they count as a fully-fledged subset of FinTech with their own moniker, InsurTech.
This increasingly credible competitive threat is expected to unleash Uber-style disruption on a sector that, still caught in a perfect storm of soft rates, low investment yields, new regulation and now the uncertainty of a Brexit vote, has been too cautious in its approach to innovation. Our survey finds, however, an industry with a growing appetite for innovation and a window of opportunity in which to leverage data flows from the Internet of Things combined with the power of artificial intelligence and the security of blockchain to deliver its own game-changing disruption.
Yet as InsurTech continues to absorb capital and talent, there’s a growing question mark over the ability of incumbents to seize this opportunity. There is a shortcut: collaboration and partnership with FinTech innovators is accelerating innovation within banking, fuelling user-friendly disruption and encouraging a new generation to engage with their banks. Insurance companies need to show increased readiness to partner with challengers in order to accelerate their own digital transformation.
There is no alternative: insurers must re-invent themselves for the digital age before a challenger forces an Uber-style disruption on them. And as our survey makes clear, the industry’s Uber moment may be less than five years away.
The clock is ticking...innovate or die.